Pain and Capsular Contracture

Sometimes, the body’s natural response to breast implants goes awry – leading to implant complications. While the growth of scar tissue around the breast implants is typically a good thing after breast augmentation or reconstruction, in some cases it can turn into hard fibrous strands that tighten around the implants. This complication, called capsular contracture, can cause significant pain and may require corrective surgeries for the patient. If you have experienced capsular contracture in the years after receiving breast implants, you could have grounds for a lawsuit with a breast implant recall attorney depending on the circumstances.

What Is Capsular Contracture?

When a patient receives a breast implant, he or she typically develops fibrous scar tissues around the implants over time. During the healing process, the body will build scar tissue around the implants as an immune system response to the foreign objects. In most cases, this scar tissue will remain soft or slightly firm, presenting no issues to the patient. In some cases, however, the patient could suffer capsular contracture. The scar tissue can become hard and squeeze the implants. A physician will diagnose capsular contracture as one of four different grades.

  1. Grade I. Normal outer appearance. The breast may feel soft and retain its size and shape.
  2. Grade II. Normal outer appearance. The breast may feel slightly firmer than normal.
  3. Grade III. Abnormal outer appearance. The breast may feel completely firm.
  4. Grade IV. Abnormal outer appearance. The breast is hard and may cause pain.

You might not notice capsular contracture at a low grade, as it may not cause any pain or discomfort. As the condition worsens, however, you may start to experience chronic pain or pain to the touch as the scar tissue contracts and applies pressure to the implant. Your breast(s) may harden and become too firm. In rare cases, capsular contracture leads to ruptured implants. If you experience any potential symptoms of capsular contracture, see your doctor.

Treatments for Capsular Contracture

Capsular contracture is generally not threatening to a patient’s health. However, most patients require corrective surgeries to alleviate related pain, discomfort and/or abnormal breast appearance. The traditional treatment for capsular contracture is a surgeon going back in and correcting the issue through revision surgery. Revision surgery may be necessary in Grade IV cases. In more minor cases, however, the patient may achieve correction with noninvasive procedures and therapies.

Can You File a Lawsuit for Capsular Contracture?

If you believe medical malpractice may have contributed to your capsular contracture or other breast implant complication, you could have a case against the surgeon or surgical center in Southern California. The same may be true if your doctor failed to obtain your informed consent to the procedure. If you were unaware of the possibility of capsular contracture or another complication, for example, the surgeon could be guilty of medical malpractice.

Capsular contracture could also point to medical malpractice if a reasonable surgeon would have taken preventive measures to lower the risk of this complication. Although capsular contracture is not always preventable, preliminary actions such as proper patient screening, choosing the correct implant size, reducing the handling of the implant and using textured implants could reduce the risk of capsular contracture. A successful personal injury claim could pay for your revision surgery and other damages.

Capsular Contracture and Cancer

Although rare, capsular contracture could be a sign of a deeper issue with your breast implants, such as cancer. The Food and Drug Administration reports one known fatality related to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) where the patient initially presented with capsular contracture. Other patients have reported capsular contracture in conjunction with BIA-ALCL diagnoses. Evaluation from a health care provider can help you reach a diagnosis of BIA-ALCL.

If you experienced capsular contracture and received a BIA-ALCL diagnosis from your doctor upon further evaluation, you may be eligible for compensation from the breast implant company. For example, Allergan recently recalled its BIOCELL® textured breast implant products and tissue expanders due to the possibility of patients developing BIA-ALCL. Allergan may face product liability lawsuits from breast augmentation/reconstruction patients who suffered from this serious complication. Working with a lawyer in Southern California could help you determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit after suffering capsular contracture.

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