The body’s natural healing process creates a capsule around the breast implant, just as it would any other foreign object. Capsular formation is normal and also occurs with other types of implant surgery including placement of pacemakers, artificial bones, or joints. In some cases, however, the capsule closes or contracts around the implant. This closure is called capsular contraction. Capsular contraction can occur at anytime after surgery—when it does occur, it is typically within a few months. Capsular contraction, however, is not common.
Capsular contraction compresses the implant, causing the implant to look distorted. In the most advanced cases, the implant can feel hard and misshapen. The implant has not changed or hardened, but the capsule squeezing the implant has caused it to feel hard. Treatment for capsular contraction requires surgery to remove or replace the implant.