Reviewing Aspen After Surgery Ultrasound Treatment for Unilateral, Mild Capsular Contractur - Halfway through
- Los Angeles, CA
- 4 months ago
I got my breasts augmented (255cc smooth silicone, subfascial/above the muscle) in November 2015. I was extremely happy with the result -- very soft, natural, dropped. They were truly spectacular. About 1.5-2 months ago (~6mo after surgery) I noticed that my left breast was starting to feel a bit hard/stuck in one place. Because I chose to go above the muscle I knew I had a slightly elevated risk for capsular contracture (CC), so I monitored it closely. Once my breast started to progress to a stiff Stage I/early Stage II, I called my plastic surgeon (PS). Note: I am extremely athletic so placing the implant below my pectoral muscle did not make much sense for me. This was a decision I weighed very heavily with the top two surgeons I was deciding between after I'd interviewed many. Plus, I noticed that in Europe, above the muscle is more common; plus, when done properly, I prefer the look of a small, above-the-muscle implant.As the CC did not seem to be getting any better, and research has shown that a revision surgery (be it capsulectomy or capsulotomy) is unlikely to be very successful (with CC recurrence rates reported as high as 50-80%); plus, any surgery is a tremendous stress on the body and I don't wish to put myself through anything that can be avoided. And, of course, revision is likely to run $6000+ that I simply don't have. I was extremely upset/depressed about developing CC. I was damning my luck that my PS had had a basically perfect track record of no CC until me. I was also starting to regret the BA all together. I share these feelings so that if you're dealing with CC and similar you'll feel a little less alone, perhaps.From my experiences with sports injuries, I was already familiar with ultrasound treatment for tendon heeling and scar tissue repair. When I read about the Aspen treatment system, however, I was skeptical for the following reasons:-Firstly, there are no double-blind, controlled studies regarding this treatment option (though there really aren't many controlled studies about CC at all, sadly). So there's no real "proof" that this has any real impact on CC. -Second, the Aspen websites/videos and testimonials all seem SUPER hokey/not trustworthy. -Third, it has a "too good to be true" kind of vibe. But, when I did a cost-benefit analysis, I determined it made sense to at least *try* the Aspen treatments, because:-It's non-invasive-There do not seem to be any major risks associated with ultrasound, so I didn't think I'd be making it worse-The cost varies per location, and not many locations offer Aspen, but the one nearest me offers it for $150 per session (with a recommend amount of 5 to 10 sessions... or $750 to $1500 total). When I met with the surgeon who performs the Aspen treatments (rather, it's one of his nurse technicians who performs the treatments and on occasion he will come in and firmly massage the capsule to try and break it up), I was still a bit skeptical. They were (of course) convinced that I was a great candidate because I caught it early and boasted a success rate of 90%. They anticipated that I would start to see results at around session 4 or 5 and recommended I plan for the full 10 sessions. They did NOT offer a money-back guarantee, which stoked my skepticism further.When I met with my primary PS who had performed my surgery, though, I was very dismayed by her bedside manner. She tried to convince me that there was nothing wrong and that a mild Grade II on one breast isn't that big a deal. She also kept forgetting my freaking name and eventually I broke down in tears because I felt she wasn't listening. Finally she agreed to at least prescribe Singulair (which is another potential avenue for CC treatment) and some antibiotics for some upcoming dental work (dental bacteria are linked to CC)... but I left her office feeling totally invalidated. It's SUCH a shame because she did stunning work and even the Aspen PS was deeply impressed by my right breast (the one that doesn't have CC). So I started the Aspen treatments and I'm now halfway through. I wanted to write a review so that other women who are curious to hear more about it have a place to go. This is what the treatments entail:-An ultrasound machine engineered for a breast (two round metal discs with conductive jelly pads on them) are placed on either side of your breast like sandwich buns for about 8 minutes. Then they are shifted to cover the top/bottom of the breast, and then you get zapped for 8 more minutes. Then they put one disc directly atop the nipple for 4 minutes. -The ultrasound feels a little tingly and sometimes stingy. I've gotten used to it over the course of the treatments. -Then the technician takes his/her palm and VERY FIRMLY (re: painfully) PUSHES the implant from all 4 directions for 30 seconds each. He/she does this for 3-4 rounds. This can be excruciating. -You are expected to wear a bandage to help your implant drop a bit (many women with CC experience an elevation of the implant) for 23 hours a day for the treatment period. -You can do Aspen 2-3 times/week, so a 10-session treatment plan can last from 3-5 weeks.-You are also expected to do firm massages and stretches at home 4 times a daySo here is my review: -1st session, I noticed no change -The PS squeezed the implant very hard to attempt to "break up" the capsule, which was excruciating. Nothing happened and I left feeling worried that I was actually going to internally bleed and make things worse. -2nd session, still no change. -I had to take a hiatus to leave town after the second session, over which time the CC seemed to get even worse. I was VERY upset. -3rd session, no discernable change... but my breast tissue would get swollen from treatments and massage so the breast appeared to feel a bit "softer"... but the capsule was still hard-4th session, I noticed a very minor change. The implant seemed to have fallen a bit and felt... fluffier? Especially immediately following the treatment. My partner noticed a difference in how it felt. -When the PS came in to "break up" the capsule again after this treatment, he noted it was "almost ready to break." It was FAR less painful this time.-5th session, even more (while slight) change. Overall so far the breast has fallen a few millimeters (it wasn't really sitting high to begin with) and the CC does seem to have mellowed a little. The capsule feels slightly thinner and more malleable. I'm not very good about doing all the at-home massage stuff, which I feel awful about. But the results are *almost* to a point that the whole thing would have been worth it (assuming it doesn't go right back to how it was before). I will try to remember to write an update once I have finished the full course of treatment and then after a few months. But so far things seem to be progressing fine. I'd be very curious to hear other womens' experiences with the Aspen. Be well.