Why I Removed My Breast Implants + One Week Post Explant (Breast Implant Illness)
In October 2011, I made the decision to get breast implants. I had lost around 45 lbs from changing my lifestyle and the breasts that I once had were non-existent. I wanted to feel feminine again and to make matters worse, my ex-husband encouraged me to get them to “spice things up.” Oh, if only I could go back to that moment where I thought I needed them.. I would have told myself that I was no less of a woman without them.
I chose 400cc silicone gel implants that were placed underneath my muscle, above my heart and lungs. The doctor said they were safe and that was good enough for me. At the time, I felt I did not need to do my own research and asked no questions. The morning after surgery, waking up was painful. I literally felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I was breathing shallow, painful breaths, but apparently this was “normal” for post operation when you get implants placed. I should have taken this as a red flag. No, and I repeat, NO cosmetic treatment should ever hinder your breathing. Breathing is vital.. you cannot live without it. Over time, I healed and there was no more pain so life went on and I enjoyed my new look.
Over the past 7 years after getting my implants, my health started changing, though. It was brief and vague at first.. from simply becoming more depressed and anxious then this past year I came close to being bedridden due to debilitating fatigue. In the beginning, I chalked it up to motherhood and getting older. But then I saw ladies who were way older than me with more energy.. something did not add up here.
I spent months and months going to doctors to find answers. Each time the blood work came back, they would be negative and we were once again back at square one. I truly felt like I was going insane. I was 29 and the way I was feeling didn’t make sense. I wanted answers, but couldn’t find any. I did get one blood test result back that told me my hormones were at a menopausal level. Menopausal at 29? There was no way. I retested and one month later, I was fine. No doctor could explain this to me. Pictured below is what my hair would look like after just one wash.
My doctor tried to put me on more anti-depressants, but this was the last thing that I needed. I felt like I was not getting heard and I kept trying and trying only to be left frustrated and lonely. My endocrine and immune systems were taking a beating and nothing I could do would help. My hormones were out of control and I felt like I was 80 years old. I started to ask myself, am I going to die like this?
In just a matter of 7 years, I went from working out 5 days a week and being so energetic that I would refuse a nap to being stuck on my couch or in bed unable to muck up enough energy for a simple grocery shopping trip or to play with my children. My mind was clearly not working anymore. I would have a full conversation with my husband and not be able to recount any words or what it was about. I would pull out my phone to text a friend and start typing words that did not make sense. My mental health started to decline and this was one of the scariest things I had ever experienced.
The other scary thing that had been happening to me since the implants were placed was chest pains. Why would a healthy 29 year old woman with zero history of heart disease suffer from chest pain? The pains were always left sided and felt so sharp. When the pain would suddenly appear, it would last for about 45 seconds and I would have to hold my breath until it passed because breathing in would make me feel as if my chest would explode. I ended up in the ER hooked up to monitors and EKG machines only be to let go 3 hours later because I was “fine.” However, I did have Costochondritis which is an inflammation of the sternum, believed to be brought on by the weight of my implants pulling at my ribs.
Eventually I was diagnosed with Chiari through an MRI of the brain for complaints of headaches and while that explained a few things, it didn’t explain all my symptoms so I knew there was more going on. A Chiari Malformation is a brain condition in which the cerebellum herniates through the foramen magnum. (I knew that keeping my implants would only trigger more inflammation in my body which could worsen the Chiari so when I decided to remove my implants, this played a huge factor.)
Physically, I was at the point where my body wouldn’t allow me to lift weights or run anymore because my joints and muscles hurt. I was stuck in bed for most of my day, sleeping yet never feeling fully rested. I constantly felt like something was trying to pull my eyelids shut at all times. Other than fatigue, I suffered from:
- Poor Memory
- Brain Fog
- Weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain
- Blurry vision
- Loss of balance
- Hormonal imbalances
- Chronic colds/sinus infections
- Hand tremor
- Poor circulation
- Puffy face, yellow eyes
- Chest pain/Costochondritis
- Hard to breathe
- Tingling and numbness in extremities
- Bad body odor
- Acne breakouts
When my health took a toll for the worst this past year, I finally decided to do my own research. I found out that my breast implants could be the issue as silicone is linked to many autoimmune disorders since they’re endocrine/hormone disrupters. I did not want to believe this at first.. I mean we have been told that these medical devices are safe, right? But the more I learned, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. I found other women who were suffering and we all had the same symptoms in common in an online Facebook group called Healing Breast Implant Illness by Nicole. Case by case, I kept seeing these bright young women who fell ill to this mysterious disease.. so many lives ruined. It finally clicked-this was me.
Silicone is comprised of over 40+ chemicals and heavy metals which the FDA does not necessarily tell anyone.. you actually have to DIG to find this info. Why did I not do my research on the ingredients before? I was so angry that I never even thought to question this! I was told they were safe by my plastic surgeon and I believed him. I chose to believe the same FDA that told us that cigarettes were safe years ago. These well known chemicals target your vital organs-your kidneys, brain, liver, etc-and attacks them. This is why my brain had been shutting down. This is why I had been aging so easily. This is why my joints hurt. I could not believe my eyes. Look at the following two charts and tell me if anyone would knowingly allow these ingredients into their bodies?
Apparently, silicone is not inert as some doctors and implant companies have claimed. It sweats and bleeds from the insertion which means even IF yours do not leak, tear, or rupture, your body still gets poisoned and there are studies to prove it. One of the studies I read showed that approximately 74 percent of women with implants had silicone migration to their lymph nodes. Implants are permeable.. doctors will tell you that nothing can get in or out, but how can they explain the saline implants that are covered in mold on the inside? The silicone implants that turn yellow and have speckles of something inside of them? How did this happen?
Silicone also depletes your body’s collagen stores. That’s why a lot of women with breast implants suffer from premature aging and joint pain. D4 (also known as octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane from silicone) has a proven impact on levels of LH and FSH—hormones that you need to ovulate. That points to why many women in that group report irregular periods, infertility, and early menopause, some as early as their mid-20s. Remember earlier when I mentioned that my blood test came back as menopausal? THIS.. this was why!
After figuring out that my implants were the cause of my issues, I knew what I had to do and that was an explant. This involved finding a skilled doctor who could not only remove my implants, but the capsule around the implants as well. The body forms a capsule around every implant and basically it is scar tissue that protects the body from the foreign object (the implant) and tries to attack it. The thing about an explant surgery is that not all plastic surgeons can do them and do them well so I ended up using the Explant doctor list on the Healing Breast Implant Illness site to find the best one for me.
I chose Doctor Jae Chun in Newport Beach, California because he is one of the top explant doctors in the world. Being in Florida, I had a phone consult with him and he answered all of my questions with me barely having to ask a thing. He does not do implants anymore because he believes in breast implant illness so his practice is solely dedicated to explanting. He even does around 4 explants a day so I knew he was it! I paid $7,600 for my explant surgery which was way more expensive than my initial implant surgery was ($5,500) back in 2012. The process was also a lot more intricate than an augmentation.
I removed my implants on December 4th 2018 and have never looked back. It has been a week since I have had them removed, but I can honestly say that I feel like a whole new person. I remember waking up from the 1.5 hour surgery feeling so hopeful. My husband said that I looked better than I had in years. Here is a photo prior to surgery and then after waking up and getting into a wheelchair.
Doctor Chun was able to get all of my capsule out and said I actually had a small contracture on my right implant. This explained why my right breast was so much smaller than the left! Over time, the contracture may have gotten worse so I was thankful to have removed them when I did. I went home that night wearing drain tubes in each breast to prevent any hematomas or seratomas. They were very weird at first, but not super uncomfortable as I thought they would be.
The day after surgery, I noticed that my face (and whole body) were less inflamed and slimmer. It was also like I got more color back in my face. My face also started producing oil again-my skin had been dry for so long. As far as pain goes, it was not as bad as when the implants were placed. Explanting was much easier and I honestly barely needed any of my pain medications. The only thing I have felt is just sore in my chest.
I went to my post op appointment and got my breast implants back in a bag. Doctor Chun took my hand and placed the bag between my fingers and told me to feel how heavy they were. I could not believe it, you guys. I had this weight sitting on my heart and lungs for 7 years. I went home and weighed the implants to find that they were 2lbs!! They also removed my drains the following day and I was set to go back home. Here is a photo of my actual implants and a picture of my husband helping me monitor my drains below.
The first thing I noticed upon waking up from surgery was that I could breathe. No, like I could actually breathe. Deeply. For the first time in 7 years. You know, breathing is something that we need in order to survive. The weight of my 400cc (2lb) implants literally crushed my chest and has impaired my breathing for so long that I forgot what it was like to truly breathe. I also noticed how much lighter I felt-it didn’t feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest anymore. There was something so freeing about the moment I woke up from surgery. I knew instantly that I had made the right decision.
I know you guys are wondering about my new boobs and how I feel about them. I chose to skip a lift and I did not do a fat transfer at this time since I want more kids in the future. When I first saw my breasts post op, I was scared to look at them. But the first thing my husband said was “You got boobs!!!!” I look down and sure enough I had some, although not as big as before. They are cute and they suit me. I am learning to love myself as myself more and more each day. Honestly, I am 100% happy with my results-cosmetically and health wise. Small boobs rock!
Here I am one week later and I feel that I am still improving each day. My posture is even better!! My neck has not been hurting as usual. I feel my energy is slowly returning.. heck at 4 days post op, I made a trip to Disneyland and walked around for a few hours. I also feel more alert mentally, but I want to wait until I am at least one month post op before I make any more claims so that I know it was a true change and due to the explant. I am still a little sore and tired from the surgery so I really want to make sure I can gauge the changes accurately for you guys and for myself. With that being said, I will blog a one month post op update here in a few weeks to let you all know how I am healing.
Thank you all for the continued support.
If you have silicone breast implants and believe you’re experiencing adverse effects, report them to your doctor and to the FDA, which will hold a public Medical Devices Advisory Committee meeting in 2019 to ensure that patients and healthcare providers continue to have accurate, scientifically sound information about breast implant safety and effectiveness, according to a September 2018 agency statement.
Your trainer and friend,