I was exchanging breast implants and performing a capsulectomy the other day (to treat a breast encapsulation) when my anesthesia provider expressed surprise at my method. Specifically, she had commented that she has never worked with a breast implant revision specialist who had removed the WHOLE collagenous capsule when treating a breast encapsulation. Apparently she has only seen plastic surgeons either make slits in capsules (capsulotomy) or only partially remove them.
Evidently, she was part of a growing support group of women who had their breast implants removed for mainly medical reasons and were firm believers that any associated capsules needed to be removed in their entirety during the same operation. Up to now I had no idea that performing a total capsulectomy is “a thing” and supposedly I am among a minority who do this par for the course.
One of the leading theories for breast encapsulation relates to bacteria and their byproduct, biofilm (a type of organic shield, if you will), surrounding the surface of the breast implant itself. One can safely assume that if a breast implant is supposedly contaminated by bacteria so is its associated surrounding capsule. Therefore, it is only logical to remove the collagen capsule in its entirety when removing or exchanging a breast implant, whether it be silicone or saline.
I created this video below to help patients better understand the vexing process of breast encapsulation and methods to treat it. Though breast augmentation is one of the most popular plastic surgical procedures performed today, it is also one of the most capricious or unpredictable because breasts often times have a mind of their own and do not behave in the way we would like them to.
Dr Haworth 2017