I Have Hardening of my Implant in One Breast. Will Massaging Make Any Difference?

i had my implants 4 years ago this summer. i have no problems at all with the other one.

Doctor Answers (9)

Could be capsular contracture

Hardening of the breast can be an indication of capsular contracture and massage will not help. Please see your surgeon to discuss this concern.

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

One Hard Breast 4 Years Post Op - Will Breast Massaging Be Of Any Value?


I am not a big fan of breast massaging to keep breasts soft, but even those that believe in breast massaging would admit if breast massaging has any value at all, it is before the breasts get hard. Capsular contracture or hardening breasts are separated into four categories from soft to distorted. This was originally described by Jim Baker, M.D. of Winter Park, Florida. If you are aware your breast is hardening, you are in Category 3 or 4. Baker Category 1 means your breast is soft and there is no problem. Baker 2 is early capsular contracture which the surgeon recognizes but the patient does not. Therefore since you recognize the hardening, it is in Category 3 or 4.

Capsular contracture is scar tissue immediately around an implant initially. Since this capsule is tightly applied to the wall of the implant, and since breast massaging at best stretches the limits of the implant pocket, all you would be doing by massaging a Baker 3 or 4 would be to move around a hard breast, potentially making a larger pocket, but you would still have the same hard breast.

Breast hardening is an immune phenomenon. Your body is attempting to protect you from this invader (the breast implant). All mechanical attempts to treat this tight capsule around your implant are doomed to failure. You need to treat the problem which is a biochemical/immunological phenomenon. Although controversial, the use of a leukotriene receptor antagonist by mouth plus external ultrasound (the kind physical therapists use for sore muscles) has shown consistently good to excellent results in my practice.

Therefore, my short answer is breast massaging once your breasts are hardening is a waste of your time.

S. Larry Schlesinger, MD, FACS
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 184 reviews

Capsular contracture four years postopertive

Capsular contracture can occur many years after breast augmentation. Breast massage at this point will not help improve the hardening. The hardening can progress to the point where the breast implant feels rock hard. Frequently, when the implant gets hard, it tends to displace upward towards the axilla. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort ormyour clothes don't fit quite right secondary to the displacement of the implant then you will likely wish to proceed with surgical correction. You should consult with your board certified plastic surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and to discuss your options.

Todd C. Case, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

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Hardening of Breast


It sounds like you are experiencing capsular contracture (scar tissue around your implant).   Unfortunately, massaging will likely not correct this.   You will most likely need a surgical intervention to remove this scar tissue and replace your implant(s).   Please visit with your plastic surgeon to learn more about your options.  Best of luck.

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
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Capsular Contractures and Massage


Unfortunately, once your breast is firm surgery is necessary to correct a capsular contracture.  Massage and medication will not turn it around.  Once you have had the corrective surgery medication may help reduce a recurrence in the first few months, but there are no guarantees.  Capsular contractures continue to plague plastic surgeons and their patients nearly fifty years after we started using implants for breast augmentations.  We still do not know the precise cause.

Lori H. Saltz, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

This is capsular contracture in a fully healed breast; massage is not helpful at this point. You need surgery.


Unfortunately, late, unilateral capsular contracture is usually due to one of two causes: bleeding from some sort of trauma to the affected breast, or bacterial contamination, often from dental work or other source of bacteremia, in conjunction with a minor injury to one breast that allows bacterial "seeding" and formation of a biofilm. Then capsular contracture results in that breast in as short a time as a few days to a couple of weeks.

Regardless of the cause in your case, you now require capsulotomy (at least) or capsulectomy and new implant (at most) to open up your contracted pocket. Your implant did NOT harden--the scar around your implant (your capsule) is what contracted, making your implant feel hard. Unfortunately, even though the implant is intact and not hard, it may well be now contaminated by a surface biofilm, and if reused, may cause anotheer capsule in the surgically revised breast. This is a judgement call made by your surgeon at the time of re-operation.

In patients who are very reluctant to proceed with re-operation (though that is the only definitive solution in the majority of cases), a trial of leukotriene inhibitors (Accolate or Singulair) plus oral Vitsamin E is worthwhile, as it will help soften a hard capsule in as many as 50% of cases. If this works, great; if not, then surgery remains the next recommendation of choice. See an ABPS-certified plastic surgeon experienced in breast surgery for consultation if you have any reservations about your initial surgeon. Best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Hard breasts at 4 years


If your breasts are firm after 4 years, it is unlikely that any massage will help. It sounds like you have a capsular contracture and may want this corrected.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Capsular contracture


You sound like a typical capsular contracture patient with one hard implant and a soft one on the other side though an exam wiould be essential to say if this is true.  If that is the case, only revisionary surgery will fix this, not massage or medications.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Hardening of 1 implant likely capsular contacture.


It would be very difficult to determine what the issue is with that 1 implant without an examination.  That said, the most likely cause of your problem, 4 years after surgery, is whats called capsular contracture.  This is when the scar, which forms around every implant, begins to contract.  As it does, it squeezes the implant inside and makes the implant feel firmer. This can be uncomfortable and there may be some distortion of the appearance of the breast.  I'm not aware that massaging can help with this, but I don't believe it will hurt.  Check back with your plastic surgeon for an examination and options of what is best for you.

Jeffrey M. Darrow, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.