If you would have come to me a year ago and said, “Your boobs are what’s making you sick.” I would have thought you were (slightly) crazy. Or at least a little misguided. And in truth, some of you did. I remember a few random DMs saying something to the effect of, “Have you heard of breast implant illness?”
I went on my not so merry way and continued trying to find answers. I guess I should rewind and talk about wtf I’ve gone through the last 2 years since I got boobs, what all I tried, and what lead me to believing my breast implants are the actual root of my problems. Buckle up… this is about to be a lonnnnng blog with a lot of winding roads. Maybe grab a snack while you’re at it.
GETTING MY IMPLANTS
I got my breast implants on August 19, 2016 (I actually have a whole blog on it). Silicone gummy bear, under the muscle. My surgeon warned me about the typical things like capsular contracture and rupture, but that was about it. Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I do not believe my plastic surgeon or plastic surgeons in general is/are bad human beings. There are plenty of women who don’t experience any complications from their implants. This is simply my story, my experience, and my truth. If yours is different, this doesn’t invalidate that. All I want to do with this blog is help make you, the reader, more informed of what COULD happen and what HAS happened to thousands of other women, myself included.
My recovery experience was very seamless and easy. Like nearly every female who elects to get implants, I was beyond thrilled and excited to fill out sports bras a little more. I didn’t have any weird health symptoms right off the bat… Or so I thought.
SHIT STARTS HITTING THE FAN
Fast forward to November of that year. I was a finalist in a fitness spokesmodel search, and so I wanted to do a small cut for the show in January. I had been maintaining around 15-17% bodyfat on 2600 calories a day and no cardio for a few months. Everything seemed like I was in an optimal position to start a cut, especially a minimally aggressive one. I was wrong as hell. Things moved slowly for the first 4 weeks. Then, screeching halt. Actually, screeching halt and the train car started going backwards on the tracks. Without changing my diet or my cardio, I started having literal 10lb fluctuations overnight. I would go from 132 to 140-143 overnight with no explanation. I chalked it up to my metabolism/hormones still trying to recover from my 2016 contest prep and counted it as a relative loss.
October 2016, a little over a month after getting implants. My body (unknowingly) was already starting to reject them.
I went from January to March relatively normal (again, so I thought). I was gaining pretty rapidly, but at the time, I was still fairly lean and chalked it up to muscle growth. I got up to about 150-155lbs, still fairly lean, likely around 20-22% in terms of body comp. At that point, my coach Nick and I decided that if I wanted to compete the national circuit that summer that it was time to start a prep. Two weeks in, same old song and dance as the winter. Nothing moving, feeling shitty all the time, retaining a lot of water. I decided to pull the plug on that prep because I knew I wouldn’t bring the best physique I possibly could if it was a constant stress to my body (which, as it turned out, my body was already under a constant stress and immune system attack).
THE BEGINNING OF THE WORST
Annnnd wham. Between March and May, my body ballooned up 20lbs. I was fucking terrified to say the least. I had no idea what was wrong with my body. I was beginning to become depressed out of nowhere (although quick physical change for the worse definitely played a role). There were more days than I can remember where I struggled to get out of bed because of where my head was. I was constantly tired. I couldn’t train for shit – my strength and performance went out the window. I couldn’t recover from training either. I didn’t have a period after that spokesmodel search in late 2016, so I thought maybe that was the root of my problems. I went to a gynecologist for amenorrhea and weight gain. He referred me to their reproductive endocrinologist. After literally BEGGING this endocrinologist to run bloodwork, he finally agreed to run it. Before looking at it, he said I probably had PCOS and that I should probably try monitoring my diet and exercise a little more closely (to which I wanted to scream “fuck you” more than anything in the whole world). A couple of weeks later, he called and said my FH and LSH ratio was indicative of PCOS, so I should probably start birth control to try and help. I tried that for about 2 weeks and it was a no go. I stopped the birth control, had the standard withdrawal bleed, and then a month later… I had a period on my own. This made me suspicious because if I had PCOS, I shouldn’t be having a period on my own. I asked for another blood draw. After getting those labs back, he said, “Nevermind, I don’t think it’s PCOS.” And he didn’t have an answer for what it was.
May 2017. Inflamed everywhere. Trying to figure out wtf was wrong with my body.
Well what the FUCK. Back to square zero. Not even square one. Lost, confused, feeling like a stranger in a body that I spent years building into my home. And let’s not even start talking about all of the internet trolls that found all too much joy inreferring to me as “another bikini chick who just got fat.”
Summer of 2017, I continued spiraling out of control, even with monitoring my intake, spending less time training to help alleviate stress, and overall just treating my body with respect and kindness. It felt like no matter what I did, things just got worse, both mentally and physically. It was around this time that someone first messaged me about Breast Implant Illness. I didn’t think that was my problem. I figured any of my problems were just my body’s form of “payback” for competing so avidly in bodybuilding from 2014-2016. I didn’t believe that my implants could be causing a physical problem within my body.
THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS
I could bore you with what over a year has looked like since then, but it’s been more of the same. I was able to lose a little bit of weight while working with Nutrition Dynamic, but there was still something missing. I was still depressed and I was still overweight. I became estrogen dominant. Tired. Recovery still not the greatest. Between February and July of 2018, I was so depressed that there were days when I literally thought it might kill me. I did not want to go in public. I lived in constant fear of being recognized (which happens relatively often given the nature of what I do), or worse, being recognized and being asked to be photographed. I lived in this constant shame and resentment for what had happened to my body. I took care of my body, fed it healthy foods, trained it to be strong and athletic, and all of a sudden, it had turned on me. “Why?” was one of my most frequent questions.
And THEN (yes, there’s more) in May of 2018 I started seeing a new specialist, Dr. Eric Serrano. I just want to preface this bit by saying that Dr. Serrano is one of the most intelligent and compassionate medical practitioners that I have ever encountered. If there is a standard to be set for how all MD/DOs should strive to treat their patients, it’s how Dr. Serrano treats his. First and foremost, Dr. Serrano actually gave me the time of day. I was so scared to go see another medical doctor because I was all too familiar with waiting for 30-60 minutes, only to see the doctor for 5 minutes, and then be rushed out. My first appointment with Dr. Serrano, I got to talk to him for an hour and a half. I told him everything about my history and he was able to start putting the pieces together for me. It was then that I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies (dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, peanuts, and the list goes on) and a systemic yeast infection, along with slightly low thyroid. He palpated my stomach and told me I had at least 13-15lbs of inflammation just sitting in my body. And that was apparent in my appearance from March of 2017 up until then. I had a constant puffy, inflamed appearance. I was hoping that removing some of the inflammatory food triggers would help, and I was also put on a low dose natural thyroid medicine to help bring my thyroid (and thus metabolism) back to a normal place. He also ran updated bloodwork, including testing for an MTHFR gene polymorphism (SNP). Annnd once again… more bad news. The medication didn’t help and my body was getting worse. But he did confirm that I have one of the variations of the MTHFR gene (more on that later).
It was around this time that I started seeing more and more messages and comments about “breast implant illness.” The Universe literally kept trying to fucking tell me. As I’m sure you can imagine, at this point, I was at my wit’s end. My body had turned on me, I felt disgusting literally all the time, and my poor mental health was infiltrating every part of my life. I wasn’t actually living, I was just surviving. So, one day, I just said, “Fuck it” and requested to join the Breast Implant Illness and Healing Facebook group. I figured a group of over 40,000 (approaching 50,000 at the time of writing this) women would be able to provide at least some form of context or insight. I will also be completely transparent and wasn’t expecting to see many avid fitness enthusiasts in there. I thought I was an outlier in that I was a “fitspo” with implants that couldn’t lose weight. I was wrong. Very wrong. I made my first post in there, talking about some of my symptoms (weight gain regardless of diet/exercise, fatigue, depression, thyroid problems, reproductive problems, randomly developing food sensitivities, a systemic yeast infection, inflammation that won’t go away, constantly yellow/bloodshot eyes, the list goes on). For the first time in so long, I felt like I was heard. I felt like I wasn’t insane or just lazy with my routine or doing something wrong. Hundreds of thousands of other women with the same problems. I scrolled through the “before & after” tag almost obsessively, and for the first time in so long, I felt hope.
Now, I want to try and parse out some of the thoughts that I’ve had as to why my implants may very well have caused my problems, or at least made them worse and near impossible to recover from. I want to preface this section (lots of prefacing in this blog… lol) by saying that I don’t have hard science to back this up. There aren’t studies on breast implant illness as the medical community doesn’t recognize it as a valid illness, and conveniently there have been no recent long-term studies proving the safety of silicone implants. But as someone who studies science both in university and as a personal passion outside of class, I tried to put a scientific lens on this situation to potentially piece this cascade of symptoms/life events together. One very excellent piece of writing/literature that I have found with some more scientific explanation of why implants can cause illnesses/ailments, written by a rheumatologist, can be found here.
First and foremost, it seems almost common knowledge that when you put a foreign object inside of your body, particularly next to such vital organs as your heart and your lungs, your body is going to try and reject it. This isn’t really something I considered in the beginning when I got the implants. I figured if hundreds of thousands of women got them without having serious medical complications (or so I thought) from a foreign object being in their bodies, that I would be fine too. I figured if something like that were possible, that I would be warned. But such was not the case. When a foreign object enters your body, your body tries to protect itself from it. That’s why capsules form in the first place (everyone forms capsules around their implants). When that object remains in the body, it will still try to expel it/defend itself against the thing. When your body is constantly trying to fight off a threat, your immune system becomes overstimulated and/or suppressed. I personally believe the majority of my inflammation came from an overactive immune system that was attempting to expel these implants, followed by a cascade of negative interactions/reactions.
Secondly, toxicity, which I’ll divide into two parts. The first being your body’s natural ability to detoxify. This is where the MTHFR gene that I described previously comes into play. Your MTHFR gene plays a huge role in your body’s ability to detoxify, particularly detoxify heavy metals. When you have one of the polymorphisms of the MTHFR gene, you are more likely to have a compromised ability to detoxify on your own. Depending on which variation you have, your ability could be anywhere from 40-80% of that compared to an individual with a “normal” variation. I also have a variation in my COMT gene, which also plays a role in the methylation detoxification process in the body, a process that occurs around a billion times per minute. It’s been documented that around 50% of Caucasians have an MTHFR SNP. My body’s natural ability to detoxify is somewhat compromised. This makes things like food selection and exposure to toxins or xenoestrogens a bit more important for me to manage. My body’s ability to clear it out on its own isn’t up to par. In fact, the variation that I have was likely not noticeable beforehand because I didn’t have a strong toxic entity that my body was trying to defend itself against. When the implants went in, from then on, there were two very large toxic things right next to some of my most vital organs (again, heart, lungs, thymus gland, etc).
Which brings me to part two: what happens when you can’t detoxify naturally? Funny you should ask. My second visit with Dr. Serrano was spent largely talking about this aspect. When you have something like heavy metals or other toxins present in your body and you can’t clear them, your body does what it naturally does in all scenarios and tries to protect you (thanks bod, you really are awesome and beautiful and powerful). So what does that mean here? Toxins are lipophilic (aka they like fatty acids/adipocytes/etc). When various toxins are present and can’t be eliminated, they like to adhere to in fat. And guess what? When you store the toxins, your body doesn’t want to liberate them, because it knows that would mean pouring toxins out into your bloodstream, making you feel very sick. So it holds on to them. It won’t shuttle the toxins into your organs as it would hurt your organs. They’re safe in your fat cells… And to keep them even safer, your body will pile another layer of water and inflammation on top of them. Dr. Serrano actually referenced a study when explaining this that took 2 groups of people and tried to get them to lose fat through diet and exercise interventions. One group lost fat, the other did not, even when the appropriate factors were controlled for. Fat cell biopsies were taken and showed that the group who could not lose bodyfat had a significantly higher amount of toxins within their fat cells than the other group who could lose weight. If you’re part of mainstream fitness, you probably rolled your eyes as soon as you saw the words “toxins” and “detox.” Unfortunately, the concept of medical detoxification has been bastardized by things like stupid detox teas and juice cleanses that claim to do more than they actually do. I digress.
How do implants play into this? Ah, you with the good questions. Implants have a lot of bad shit in them, and you’re assured that it’s safe and contained within the implant. But even silicone isn’t always tolerated well, and neither are things like Benzene (a known carcinogen and neurotoxin), Naptha (a rubber solvent), and heavy metals like aluminum, platinum, and silica. Even if it’s not a full rupture, the “slow leak” that often occurs can still allow stuff into your bloodstream that you quite frankly don’t want in your bloodstream (toxin leak toxins floating around in your blood toxins getting stored in your body, etc). And if you’re constantly having an immune reaction from trying to expel these implants, you’re even more susceptible to other environmental stressors that you come into contact with.
So, where my fairly intelligent intellectual mind leads me is this:
Foreign object put in body –> continuous immune reaction –> MTHFR/COMT SNP –> impaired ability to detox, which wasn’t noticeable before putting two foreign objects in my chest –> more uncleared toxins in my body storing said toxins in fat cells –> wash rinse repeat as the implants remain in my body, causing this same reaction over and over again.
Which does a pretty damn good job of explaining why these issues would just continue to get worse and not get better. Some of you may be reading this and think I’m reaching, but this is where my brain (and intuition… and doctors…) has led me, and only time and proper healing modalities will tell if any of this plays out to be true.
SYMPTOMS EXPERIENCED AND TREATMENTS
I’ve gone through a ringer of symptoms and attempted treatment methods the last two years. Here’s an abbreviated list:
Symptoms experienced from time of implant til now:
-Weight loss resistance + excessive weight gain
-Slow metabolism (I used to be able to maintain a much lower body weight/fat on 2600 calories per day… lol)
-Chronic fatigue/HPA axis dysfunction
-Worsening of psoriasis
-Random development of food sensitivities
-Systemic yeast infection
-Intermittent periods of low libido
-Muscle weakness and overall poor athletic performance
-Difficulty/pain with certain exercises (pushups in particular, also experienced difficulty with movements that required me laying on my chest ~1 year after surgery)
-Poor recovery from training
-Constant thirst, even when drinking 2 gallons of water every day (my explant surgeon mentioned that this may be due to the water not actually getting inside of my cells)
-Numbness in fingers
-Shortness of breath (If you listen to my podcast, you may have picked up on this. I try to conceal it as best I can, but whenever I record solo episodes, I literally have to pause every couple of minutes just to breathe. I can’t talk continuously without feeling like I can’t get enough air in my lungs to speak fluidly. The capsules of the implants can actually attach to your ribs, which is where much of the breathing difficulty could be stemming from. Or just the fact that these things are sitting on top of my lungs)
-Constantly dull/yellowed/bloodshot eyes
-Fat gain in sites outside of my normal bodyfat distribution patterns
-Foul odor, particularly in the underarm area
-Strange smelling urine
-Healthy diet and exercise
-Non-extreme calorie deficit
-Birth control (for a very brief time)
-Cutting down on plastic use, swapping plastic for glass, etc
-Medical grade organotherapy supplements (thyroid, pituitary, adrenal)
-Massage therapy, physical therapy
-Naturopathic dietary interventions
-Medical detoxification diet/supplements
-Low-dose thyroid medicine
-T3 prescribed and dosed by my doctor, not recreationally (T3 is a VERY powerful thyroid drug. It’s commonly used in bodybuilding as a cutting agent. I didn’t need this to get to 9% bodyfat, and during my struggle, even one of the most powerful fat loss drugs did not generate body fat shifts)
As you can see, it’s a laundry list of symptoms and an additional laundry list of treatment attempts that all ultimately failed. Truthfully, part of what deterred me from believing in what people referred to as “Breast Implant Illness” was the fact that the symptom list was so long. I was like, “These symptoms could be indicative of so many other ailments/illnesses.” So I do recommend being very thorough. Rule out potential alternatives before going in for another surgery. Get bloodwork. Try and find as many pieces to put together of your story as you can.
OTHER POSSIBLE RESULTS OF BREAST IMPLANT TOXICITY
I’ll leave out the things that surgeons generally warn you about pre-op (capsular contracture, hematoma, etc). You can find an extensive list on healingbreastimplantillness.com.
-Cancer. Yep. There is a type of cancer that is exclusive to breast implants referred to as BIA-ALCL (breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma). It’s very rare, but still a possibility.
-Autoimmune symptoms or diagnosis (like Hashimoto’s, Graves disease, Raynaud’s syndrome, and others)
-Swollen/tender lymph nodes
There’s a freakin’ lot. My explant surgeon told me about a patient who came to him with a rash/discoloration all over her chest and arms. It completely disappeared within days after her explant. That’s more than a coincidence to me.
As I’m sure you’ve concluded after reading everything leading up to this, I decided to have my breast implants removed.
When getting your implants removed, they have to be removed very specifically. The correct way to remove implants is by doing what’s called an en bloc/total capsulectomy removal. This means that the entire capsule is removed. The capsule is basically a protective shell of connective tissue formed by your body to protect itself from the implants itself. The condition of capsular contracture that is mentioned by plastic surgeons pre-implant is a calcification/hardening of that capsule. There are a few reasons that the capsules have to be removed along with the implant. The capsule can house a lot of the bacteria/toxins/mold/fungus/bad shit, and if those aren’t removed, they are (obviously) still hanging out in your body and exposing your system to whatever was housed in there. No bueno. The capsule can also spread to other areas of your body. Remaining capsules in the body can still result in symptoms triggered by the implants. Having implants removed via an en bloc/total capsulectomy helps ensure that toxic/unsafe substances are all removed from the body inside the capsule and enclosed implant.
After reading a lot of the resources on the Breast Implant Illness website and other resources provided by well-known explant surgeons (like Dr. Lu Jean Feng in Cleveland, OH), I also am requesting a few other things from my surgeon:
1. Photo of the implant immediately after explant, with capsule still around the implant.
2. Photo of the implant + capsule with the capsule removed.
3. Photo of inside chest after removal.
4. Video of parts of the procedure.
5. Swabs of the capsule to test for bacteria, fungi, white blood cells, BIA-ALCL, and other oddities.
My surgeon is Dr. Brian Lee of Aspire Aesthetics in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I found him through the Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole Facebook group. I wanted to be sure that I found a doctor who would perform the surgery properly and provide the above listed items. I am SO grateful to have found Dr. Lee. My explant consult appointment also served as a pre-op since I came from out of town, so the appointment lasted around 2-3 hours covering everything. Dr. Lee is also very familiar of/supportive of holistic approaches, and he also helps to provide detoxification support before and after explant surgery. He was very empathetic and thorough in our consult, and he has performed many explant surgeries. Another interesting fact is that he mentioned that the majority of women he explants for do have some form of the MTHFR gene polymorphism, whether it’s the C677T snp or the A1298C SNP (there are many other SNPs, but these two are the most commonly studied).
Soooo… now the not so fun part. I mean, losing your health progressively over the course of 2 years wasn’t fun, but this next part definitely isn’t fun. How much explanting costs.
I know a lot of people are weird about disclosing costs, but this experience has given me a much greater “IDGAF” mentality. Open book about this all around. Dr. Lee did advise an explant with a lift, not just an explant, so that does add some cost in there obviously. The cost of an en bloc capsulectomy + breast lift came out to be a about $12,000 (no lift would have been around $3-4k less).
At this point, I’ve spent upwards of at least $8,000 on different healing modalities/doctors/professionals, so while paying $12,000 out of pocket isn’t ideal, neither is risking keeping what could very well be the cause of all of the issues I’ve been having inside my body. Seems like a no brainer.
Even if you feel like your implants are causing health problems, most health insurance providers will not cover your explants because it is an elective surgery. After having my capsules swabbed, if anything abnormal is found, I am absolutely going to file a claim with my insurance to see if there would be any potential reimbursement. A wonderful Instagram follower of mine shared this with me, and I will share this with you all in case you’re looking to explant:
“I worked at this think tank called the National Center for Health Research in the spring and their biggest project is helping women pay for their explant surgeries because there IS evidence that breast implant illness is a real thing. Call them and they can help you financially if your insurance doesn’t cover it… They work with another organization that will give women $5,000 towards their surgery if insurance doesn’t cover it. [Their number is] (202) 223-4000.”
As far as financing options, every surgeon is different with what the accept. I know a lot of surgeons, especially plastic surgeons, accept things like CareCredit or Alphaeon. I would check with the surgeon you intend to intend to explant with well in advance to see what they take so that you can apply and be approved in time for your surgery. This is something I wish I would have done in hindsight. Before I found a surgeon, I “thought ahead” and applied for Alphaeon, thinking all surgeons accepted that or CareCredit (not just one). Based on my income level and credit score, I was approved for around $8,000. Unfortunately, Dr. Lee only accepts CareCredit and not Alphaeon, so I have $8,000 worth of credit just sitting around… Lol. I was fortunate enough to be able to withdraw the amount I would need for surgery out of my investments, so I paid for it upfront. When you schedule, you’ll usually need to put around 20% down, which was also true for Dr. Lee. Just be prepared when you go in for your consult to have something so you can put a down payment on your surgery date, otherwise you can’t book it.
#NORAGRETS (Not even a letter)
I’ve spent a good bit of time beating myself up for doing this to myself. But I, just like most women who choose to get breast implants, have no idea this is even a possibility. It’s one of the top cosmetic surgeries in the country. We trust that if thousands of other women have been “okay,” then so will we. We trust that the only really bad things that could happen are capsular contracture or rupture of an implant… and even with that, we never think it will happen to us. I’ve also held a lot of guilt in my heart for publishing a podcast talking about getting implants, saying that they’re safe, etc before I knew better.
When I decided to get implants, it was an interesting way to come to the decision, and highly ironic now that I’m choosing to have them removed. I spent most of my childhood/youth somewhat self-conscious over the fact that I didn’t grow a chest the way my other female classmates did. I remember first buying a bra in the 3rd grade, and journaling about how much I wish I had my friend Paige’s fuller chest. I wanted that so badly. But as I grew up, I became more comfortable with myself. Diving into fitness and health and treating myself with kindness from the inside out made me so confident as a person, both internally and with my physical appearance. I still thought about what it would be like to have a bigger chest, but not in the “I won’t be happy until I have this” kind of way. I remember always thinking that I wouldn’t get them if I felt I wouldn’t be comfortable with myself without them – does that make sense? I didn’t want to have an elective surgery to alter my body if I didn’t think I could survive without having them. I wanted to be that secure in myself. I could answer yes to this question while also still having the desire to get them. I figured, “I’ll have to get them replaced at some point, and if I don’t want them anymore, I can just have them taken out.” I figured they would help me feel a little more feminine. Especially when my body is it’s “normal” size, aka not flooded with tons of inflammation and storing excess body fat, I do have a more “up and down” build. Small waist but also very narrow hips, aka I don’t naturally have an hourglass bone structure.
I don’t regret having them put in, regardless of what they’ve done to my body. Why? Because they’ve forced me to learn. Learn about a multitude of different medical conditions. They’ve helped me develop more empathy for those who are struggling with some unknown condition. I wouldn’t have started my podcast, EMBody Radio – I started the podcast somewhat selfishly so I could not only spread information, but also pick the brains of various experts, partially to help me unravel my own medical mystery web. They’ve forced me to be relentless about pursuing my health and not stopping when treatment after treatment failed and doctor after doctor after specialist has said “I don’t know”. They forced me to find peace in being in a body that didn’t feel natural or healthy to me. And they forced me to realize what my femininity actually is.
My femininity doesn’t lie within a body shape. Femininity isn’t about having curves in “all the right places.” Femininity isn’t about having a visually appealing, hourglass figure. Nope. None of those things. Femininity lies within yourself, within your soul. Femininity lies within your confidence in you, who you are, and what you know yourself to be capable of. I felt far more feminine when I had a more up and down/muscular build and I would regularly get comments like, “You look like a dude.” Having boobs, and moreover, what having boobs did to the rest of my body, robbed me of my femininity. It robbed me of my confidence. It robbed me of my athleticism (what even are pushups with implants… lol). It robbed me of my excitement about life. I remember pulling up a YouTube video back from when I was prepping for national level shows in bodybuilding. Those of you who compete know that prepping doesn’t leave you with much extra energy to spare, especially the closer you are to show time. But in these videos, even when I was expending a lot of energy without taking in much, I still had this intense excitement for life, for training, for sharing my journey and for helping people. You know how some rooms have those dials for turning the lights up or down? As these last few years have progressed, I feel like that dial has been turning farther and farther down, dimming my light. I fully, wholeheartedly believe that this new journey is the start of me getting my light back. And I will never let it go again.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Whenever someone provides their experience and their opinion on a topic, there is always the question of, “What do you think I/other people should do?” aka, “Do you think I should/shouldn’t get implants?”
Well my love, that’s a decision that you and only you can make. I don’t know if every single woman reacts negatively, or at least negatively in a magnitude that’s noticeable. I do know that everyone’s bodies will form capsules around the implants to protect you from them. And I do know that there is a Facebook group with almost 50,000 women in it with similar experiences. But again, I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.
One thing I would HIGHLY suggest you do before getting implants is having your MTHFR gene tested for any of the commonly known SNPs. I’ve talked to both Dr. Serrano and my explant surgeon Dr. Lee about this, and there seems to be some mutual agreement (which I will put in my own words; these aren’t their direct words):
If you have one of the MTHFR polymorphisms, you are likely born with it. A lot of the management of MTHFR SNPs is done through diet and lifestyle. Up until I had implants put in my body, I lived a very healthy lifestyle, ate lots of leafy greens, took creatine, etc, so I may not have ever noticed this alteration being a problem in my life. I was managing it without even realizing it. But by putting a foreign object into my body that had not only the ability, but also the propensity to slowly leak toxins into my bloodstream, then the alterations in my genetics started creating a problem. My body’s inability to clear these toxins, combined with all the other environmental stressors we’re exposed to, caused this buildup to start and continue happening (if an implant is slowly leaking, those side effects aren’t going to go away so long as the implant is still in there). If you have an MTHFR polymorphism, I would strongly argue that you’re at a heightened risk for complications from getting breast implants. I have no hard data to back this up, just extrapolations from my own personal research into MTHFR/implications along with the anecdotes from my doctors.
If you want to be tested for an MTHFR polymorphism, you should be able to ask your doctor to test for it. If not, genetic testing services like 23 And Me can test for it. I would also recommend reaching out the Nutrition Dynamic as they are able to order just about any blood panel for their clients (you will have to pay for it though).
There’s also the aspect of autoimmune conditions. There are some (very good) surgeons who will recommend that women with pre-existing autoimmune conditions (psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, etc) do not get implants due to the immune reaction. This was not something that I was keen to upon getting implants. I have psoriasis (although it had been in remission for years before I had implants) that came back and worsened over the course of me having implants. I do think getting implants is contraindicated for those with autoimmune conditions or family history of autoimmune conditions as well.
My last thoughts on “Should you get implants” are this: if you’ve followed me for any conceivable length of time, or have just now read this blog post and seen some of the things I’ve experienced as a result of having implants, take that as a strong warning. If I had been told this was even 1% possible, I would not have gotten implants. If you don’t want to risk having your livelihood, health, and happiness stripped from you, don’t get implants. What I got (boobs) versus what I lost (myself) was absolutely not worth having a 32DD-DDD. Not even a little.
All that you are is all that you need.
POST OP THOUGHTS
While the overwhelming majority of this blog was written prior to my surgery (aka everything besides this paragraph… lol), I explanted on August 21st.
The pain is there, but manageable. It’s mainly tightness/soreness (I feel like I did a super heavy chest workout… like 12 times). I did have some pain the day of and into the second day in my sides/back from having to have some of the capsule scraped off of my rib cage (they can attach). I also had this feeling like my back needed to crack, but that’s fairly normal since I do tend to crack my back on a foam roller every day, and for obvious reasons, I can’t do that right now.
I have two drains (one on each side) to collect fluid and we empty them every 12 hours. My mom and my boyfriend Grant have been helping me with that. I do need help doing just about everything (getting up, sitting down, opening containers, getting water, making food, getting in and out of bed, literally just about everything besides going to the bathroom).
I was prescribed Valium as a muscle relaxer, and take that more than the pain killers (I’d rate the actual pain at around a 5. It’s less of a sharp pain than when I had my implants put in). I did receive a prescription for a stronger pain killer, but I personally get really nauseous when I take heavy pain meds, so I’ve just been using Tylenol Extra Strength as needed, and it’s gotten the job done. I also use CBD oil (shameless plug: my favorite is from Cured Nutrition, and the code EMILY does get you a discount!) to help with sleep quality, inflammation, and recovery.
As far as symptoms, there’s already been an improvement. Here’s a picture of my eyes literally 5 hours after I woke up from surgery:
The eyes have it. Someone on IG made a comment that my contacts in the above picture are what caused it – I assure you, my eyes were dull and bloodshot and swollen with or without contacts in.
The almost immediate eye-brightening is somewhat of a phenomenon with women who explant. The main theory here is that dull/bloodshot/yellowed eyes are indicators of a compromised immune system. There’s a fairly stark change early on. I woke up from my nap (I went in for surgery at 7:15, woke up at noon (it’s a long operation), then slept from around 2-5) and immediately looked at my eyes. I was shocked. I sent a picture to Grant (he was training and getting my medicine while my mom and sister stayed at our AirBNB with me) and he asked me if I edited it at all… Nope. Even when he got home, from a few feet away he could tell a difference.
The morning after, I woke up, and although I was in pain (duh) and needed a bit more sleep than usual (also duh), there was this weird clarity in my brain. It was such a cool feeling and it’s stuck around.
I’ve also not been experiencing the dry mouth/dehydrated feelings that I had been. I haven’t been exercising (i.e. more fluid loss), but I also haven’t been drinking 2 gallons of water like I normally do. I’ve been drinking around a gallon a day, perhaps a little more, and I feel very hydrated/normal in that department already. I am peeing pretty frequently even with drinking less water, but I think part of this may be related to losing some of the inflammation I’ve had and inflammation from surgery.
More than anything, I wake up just feeling… Happy. Peaceful. Excited. I’ve found a lot of solace in knowing that I made this decision solely out of love for my body and for wanting it to be healthy. Does culture/media like big boobs? Yes, that’s blatantly obvious. Did my body like them? No. Not at all. Getting them taken out was one of the most loving decisions I’ve made for my body and myself as a whole.
Lastly, before providing you with some resources for you to start digging around for yourself, I want to say thank you.
Thank you to all of you who tried warning me about this over a year ago. I truly wish I would have listened sooner. I am truly grateful to have a community who cares about me and who is willing to have uncomfortable conversations. To each and every one of you who either messaged me or left a comment on Instagram/YouTube asking if I’d heard of breast implant illness, thank you. The Universe/God sent me hundreds of angels trying to whisper in my ear the direction I needed to go. Unfortunately, I had to be screamed at in a big way before I would listen.
RESOURCES FOR LEARNING ABOUT BREAST IMPLANTS AND POTENTIAL ILLNESSES/SIDE EFFECTS
Healing Breast Implant Illness website (the other site, just “Breast Implant Illness” is a copycat site of the original site creator, Nicole’s website. They copy/pasted all of her information. Make sure you’re looking at the correct site!)
Breast Implant Illness Facebook group
Karissa Pukas’s YouTube video
Karissa Pukas’s Instagram (check out her story highlights on BII)
Angie Lee’s podcast
Sarah Mann’s Instagram (one of my best friends who is also explanting)
Cath Bastien’s video (another lovely friend of mine who explanted in early August and is already feeling much better).
The Explant Doc’s Instagram (an documentary is coming soon about implants/Breast Implant Illness)