What is capsular contracture?

Capsular contracture refers to scar tissue that can form around breast implants. This can cause the breasts to harden or change in appearance, in addition to often producing discomfort. Capsular contracture is one of the most common complications following breast augmentation. It may affect one or both breasts. While non-surgical treatments for capsular contracture are sometimes effective, a surgical procedure known as capsulectomy is generally regarded as the “gold standard” for addressing this condition.

Surgical correction of capsular contracture, or capsulectomy, is among the specialty procedures offered to patients at Tri Valley Plastic Surgery serving Oakland, CA.

When you choose Tri Valley, you are truly choosing a national leader in plastic surgery.

Tri Valley Founder and Lead Plastic Surgeon Dr. Steven Williams is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Other surgeons from around the country frequently seek out Dr. Williams to advise and guide them in adopting surgical “best practices.”

How is a capsulectomy performed?

During your capsulectomy Oakland plastic surgeon, Dr. Williams will open your breast pocket and either cut or completely remove the scar tissue that causes capsular contracture.

A capsule is a protective, fibrous tissue structure that naturally forms to encase any object introduced to your body, including breast implants. Your breast implant is removed and usually replaced during your capsulectomy. A similar-sounding procedure is called a capsulotomy. The capsule is cut open and “released” to not squeeze the implant so tightly.

In breast reconstruction after breast cancer procedures, if capsular contracture continues to be a problem, or if a patient does not desire an implant replacement, a surgery known as autologous tissue reconstruction may be desirable. With this surgery, the breast is reconstructed using a flap of tissue taken from the patient’s abdomen, back, buttocks, or thigh. Autologous breast reconstruction removes the risk of contracture redevelopment since your body will not form a capsule around the flap. These are typically not options for cosmetic breast augmentations that encounter capsular contracture.

Are you a good candidate for capsulectomy?

You should not have a capsulectomy if you:

  • Have breast cancer or precancerous breast disease.
  • Have an active infection anywhere in your body.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Patients with a bleeding disorder or a weakened immune system may also be disqualified.

Preparing for your capsulectomy

Before your capsulectomy Oakland plastic surgeon, Dr. Williams order pre-surgical tests, including blood work, chest X-rays, and an electrocardiogram. You may also need to undergo a mammogram if you are over 40 or considered at high risk for breast cancer. For a specified period before and after your procedure, you will likely be directed to discontinue the use of any supplements or medications (such as aspirin) which may cause excessive bleeding.


Like all surgeries, a capsulectomy carries risks including, but not limited to, bleeding, infection, and adverse reactions to medications or materials. Risks specific to a capsulectomy include:

  • Breast implant damage or failure.
  • Chest wall irregularities.
  • Change in nipple sensation.
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Damage to nearby nerves or organs.
  • Tissue death.

On the day of your surgery

You will change into a hospital gown upon arriving at our surgical facility. Please refrain from wearing makeup, jewelry, and other cosmetics. Bring your driver’s license and insurance card, along with comfortable clothes. Most of our Oakland capsulectomy patients are able to return home the day of surgery, though they want someone to drive them due to the effects of anesthesia.

Capsulectomy procedure

You may be given an intravenous antibiotic to prevent infection and be fully asleep during your procedure. Your capsulectomy will typically take between two and three hours. After making necessary incisions in your breast crease (the area where the breast meets the chest), Dr. Williams will remove your implant or implants in one of two ways:

  • Partial or total capsulectomy with implant removal, in which tissue surrounding the capsule is cut away, and the capsule is partially or totally removed in one or more large sections
  • En bloc capsulectomy, in which the capsule is removed as a whole and intact unit
Banner media Banner media Banner media Banner media
Banner media Banner media Banner media Banner media


Following your procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area to slowly wake up from your anesthesia, and your vital signs will be monitored. Pain medication will be prescribed and administered as appropriate. If you are being discharged that day, be sure you have arranged for a ride home. If not, you will be moved to a hospital room for your overnight stay.

Recovery from capsulectomy generally takes around four to six weeks. Expect to experience some breast pain, swelling, and bruising. Temporary breast numbness or tingling is normal. Most patients can shower 24 to 72 hours after surgery, but follow Dr. Williams’ specific instructions.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience chills or fever, signs of infection, chest pain, or trouble breathing. You will need to avoid driving and all strenuous activities (including heavy lifting) for at least a month. Dr. Williams will see you for a follow-up appointment a few days after surgery and will make sure your incisions are healing properly. Make sure you keep all follow-up appointments.

Doctor media


If your surgery is deemed a purely cosmetic procedure, your insurance will not pay for it. But if it was performed at least in part for medical reasons, insurance may cover the costs of all or part of your procedure. Your doctor and medical staff will help you file all necessary paperwork.

Insurance against capsular contracture is also offered as an option by your implant company. This can be an extremely useful extra protection to obtain at the time of your original breast augmentation surgery.

Great Results. Minimal Downtime.

Schedule Intro Call
Contact us media

Schedule your capsular contraction surgery at Tri Valley Plastic Surgery

Tri Valley Plastic Surgery in Dublin, CA, serves Oakland and the Bay Area, but frequently attracts patients from around the globe. Tri Valley is a world-class center staffed by world-class medical professionals. If you feel like you’re suffering from capsular contracture, there is no reason to wait. Schedule a consultation today.


We are leaders in breast enhancement, body sculpting, and facial cosmetic surgery, serving the entire San Francisco Bay area. Whether you live in the Bay Area or are coming in from out of town, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have on your path to your new self. Schedule an intro call with us today to take the first step towards realizing the look you’ve always wanted for yourself.

Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (925) 217-8953.
Book Now Contact Us