I had heard several stories of women having issues with their implants and truth be told I wasn’t 100% convinced of this illness until I endured it myself.
8 years ago, I made the pressured decision to get breast implants. I was a perky C cup with a tiny frame and no need for modifications. I remember the day I went into the consultation room and immediately the surgeon sat me down and said that I was the ‘perfect candidate’ for breast augmentation. I was 18 years old. I had done absolutely no research about breast implants, and there were most certainly no life-threatening warnings to deter my decision. You get warned of the possibilities of your implants moving and that’s why I opted for textured silicon. They were safe, or so they said.
I had my first child at the age of 21, just 3 years after my procedure. Breastfeeding was very difficult for me as it was hard to tell when my boobs were empty which resulted in various episodes of mastitis, until eventually my daughter was hospitalised with a feeding tube.
After we stopped breastfeeding, I noticed that my left breast implant seemed to have changed shape and thought it would be best to contact my surgeon. My implants were still under the 3-year warranty however I was told there was nothing wrong and that they would settle.
Within the next 2 years I was experiencing a number of unexplainable illnesses such as: reoccurring sinus and thrush infections, flu like symptoms each morning when I would wake, joint pain, a change in body odour, terrible adult acne, chronic fatigue, food intolerances, sharp pains in my breasts, terrible anxiety and constant thirst. These came on like a tsunami. Hard and fast, my body was screaming for help.
I was naïve. I blamed my symptoms on being a mother instead of listening to my body.
I had friends do my makeup and be shocked about the yellow tone of my skin and how terrible my acne was. I had beautiful skin, there were simply no explanations for this. My immunity was slowly crashing and there was nothing I could do about it. The way I looked on the outside was nothing in comparison to how I felt on the inside.
It started to eat away at my brain, my memory was horrific. I felt so scared to return to work because of how stupid I felt. Anxiety ate me up into tiny little pieces.
All of these hurdles were insignificant compared to the secondary infertility journey we embarked on in 2016. My body was so exhausted, I no longer ovulated anymore and when I did my progesterone would plummet and we would lose our babies. My heart shattered into a million pieces once a month for 18 months until we conceived our little Miracle Wynter Grace via our 3rd round of fertility treatment.
Pregnancy, thankfully, went very well with just a few minor problems with my hypoglycaemia and low iron. In June 2018, we welcomed our healthy girl and I was excited to regain my body and work on my health again. After 4 months of breastfeeding Wynter was refusing the breast and I knew in my heart that something was not right. Ultrasounds confirmed placenta poisoning. After almost 5 months being naïve and not listening to my body, I had had enough. I promised myself that I would prioritise my health.
In my heart, I knew my breast implants were the root cause of my issues. The timelines matched perfectly and I had to follow my gut that this was no coincidence.
I consulted late 2018 and booked my surgery on the spot for Feb 2019. I think personally, I struggled more in those waiting months than I ever had before.
My doctor warned me that my left implant was surrounded by fluid that I would need to have a scan on immediately to rule of the possibility of ALCL (Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma) – Associated from textured implants due to chronic inflammation causing proliferation and activation of T-cells.
I had 2 effusions in my left implant which were both negative for ALCL but sparked even more reason for me to get rid of my ticking time bombs.
I started working out quite a lot to help my anxiety. In this time, I formed acute/chronic eczema that lingered for several months out of nowhere and horrific joint pain.
Its like my body knew what was on the horizon and it just couldn’t hold on anymore. It was almost like it was relaxing because it knew the end was near but at the same time it was doing so, more things were happening to me.
I received a phone call Feb 6th to inform me of a cancellation 2 weeks before I was initially booked in. I jumped at the opportunity and will be thankful for every day onwards. On Feb 12th I underwent a 4-hour bilateral implant removal (explant) and mastopexy. To my shock, my surgeon notified me that I had 2 completely different brand implants inside of my body, one of them being the brand Allergan. Allergan implants are no longer supplied due to the risks linking the implants to cancer. My left implant was completely dislodged and difficult to remove. My right implant had severe capsular contracture. Finally, he was able to perform a complete enbloc capsulectomy.
Just for your information: The ‘capsule’ is the scar tissue surrounding the implant, this is happening to each and every patient after breast augmentation from day one. When any foreign body enters our body, the natural defence mechanisms are triggered. Removing this capsule ensures the removal of any excess toxins. I am so grateful to have found such a skilled surgeon to be able to perform this so successfully.
After my surgery, an instant sense of freedom come over me. I felt as light as a feather. It was like I could breathe for the first time again. I
even explained how I was feeling to my nurse and she replied: I’ve had several women who have had the same surgery say exactly the same thing to me. That was mind blowing for me to hear in that moment.
That evening, the same nurse came in to
have a chat to me. She was intrigued in my decision to explant. She spoke about how many women have been doing so over the past year and some of the cases they had seen. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Those are the substantial statistics that people need to hear when they have the audacity to sit back and say that it is not yet proven.
My own mother fell victim as one of the statistics to BII. One morning while making the bed, she started to feel uneasy and a little bit faint. She noticed her incision area was wet. To her horror, her body was rejecting her implants to the degree that they had torn her incision open and her body was leaking silicon. She underwent an emergency double mastectomy. She also contracted golden staph infection and was very ill for weeks. Not only did my own mother endure such a traumatising experience with her implants, her confidence was stripped from her. Explanting can be very difficult to one’s state of mind. No matter what, my mother will always be beautiful. Breast implants do NOT define anyone. We must always remember this.
On the day of my discharge, my doctor told me the details of my surgery. He sent me photos of my implants. I was absolutely horrified. It’s like I explanted in hope that all these symptoms were from my boobs and the picture confirmed absolutely everything for me.
The implants looked like pure poison. My once clear and firm/textured implants were now a bright yellow (much like the tone of my skin). The capsule that surrounded them were calcified and full of an oozing pus. I took a long deep breath of relief the moment I saw this picture. I felt free.
I knew I had listened to my body.
We all get implants out of vanity and the desire to be beautiful. Then we get sick and live in denial while we endure a poor quality of life. This is my greatest lesson in self-love.
To listen to your body is such a powerful tool. I am grateful for each day forward knowing that my implants are now nothing more than the picture you see here. Out of my body and allowing me to live again. To spread knowledge and empower women who are seeking implants to investigate properly.
The heal is real.