Your body naturally tries to protect itself from foreign bodies—so it’s no surprise that it might consider a breast implant an intruder, and try its best to fight off the implant by developing a thick, hard layer of scar tissue around it. It’s a complication called capsular contracture, and in its most serious forms, it can cause hardening of the breast, asymmetry between the breasts, and even deformities like “double bubble,” when there’s a clear, easily distinguishable line between the implant and the rest of the breast.
Fortunately, there are techniques that many plastic surgeons recommend to help prevent the development of capsular contracture, including use of compression garments to flatten the implant, or daily massages of the breast. These techniques keep the pocket of tissue around the breast implant enlarged, soft and supple, and prevent scar tissue from forming around the implant. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
- Start during your recovery. You can start massaging your breasts as soon as the sutures are removed.
- Massage often. For the best results, you’ll need to commit to massaging your breast implants at least once or twice each day. Your massage will need to be longer (about 30 minutes per day) for the first few months after your breast augmentation; after that, you’ll need to do it for a few minutes each day.
- Push the implant flat against your chest wall. Compression of your breast implants will flatten them, helping them expand and stretch the tissue pockets where the implants have been placed. That may help prevent the scar tissue from tightening around the implant.
- Displace and squeeze the implant. Move the implant in a circular motion within your breast, to help keep the pocket of tissue large around the sides. Squeezing at the center of the implant will help ensure that the pocket of tissue stretches out, and not just to the sides. (You’ll need to make sure you squeeze the breast implant itself, and not just the skin and tissue around it.)
- Don’t be afraid to use pressure on the implant. Firm pressure should not damage your breast implants. You should be massaging hard enough that you can feel it as firm pressure, but not so hard that it’s painful.
- Ask your doctor for guidance. Your doctor should instruct you on proper massage techniques at one of your first follow-up appointments, so you can use the most effective method for your implant type.