Breast Implant Illness

I decided to get breast implants about 4.5 years ago. Oddly enough, I wasn’t all that unhappy with my body. But I had given birth to two babies and things were starting to look quite different. The subtle shifts in the body I had known for 35 years felt almost like a betrayal. It’s a strange feeling to achieve something as monumental as giving birth to a human being but then to feel like your body is letting you down or failing you in some way. Of course, my body wasn’t failing me, it was simply going through the normal process of aging.

But I had the means to make things look “better”, and so I did. It seemed like a common procedure and I had never heard of anyone having problems, so I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I originally spoke to him about just getting a breast lift. He convinced me that an implant would be the best choice for what I was wanting. You mean I can fill out a bra and have less sag? Perfect, I thought. The surgery went off without a hitch and my new look was nice. I felt good about the decision and my recovery was relatively smooth. Until one day, things weren’t so smooth.

I began to notice that my body felt extremely weak. I’m talking abnormally, freakishly weak. It felt as if my muscles were atrophying. I ran a low grade fever off and on and my limbs felt so heavy, I would drop things all the time. I felt a constant sense of malaise. I had no energy. It was truly terrifying and unlike anything I had ever felt before. I would feel okay for a day and then bad for two.

My primary care physician began running tests. He tested me for everything under the sun including West Nile, Lyme disease, autoimmune markers, and vitamin levels. I was even sent to a neurologist. Test after test came back within “normal” range, but I felt SO far from normal. I even went back to the surgeon who performed the procedure and told him I was worried they might be making me ill. Something was very wrong. He convinced me that this was highly unlikely and he had only removed 1 set of implants in all his years as a surgeon. He told me I was likely to feel no difference if I removed the implants. So I didn’t.

I still clearly remember going away on a mini girls trip one weekend during this time and just breaking down at dinner and sobbing because I was so tired of feeling horrible all the time. We had gone shopping that day and instead of having fun, I remember feeling so weak and exhausted that i just had to sit down on a bench until my friends finished. I felt feverish and horrible. I was a shell of myself. This went on for months.

After being told that there were no more tests to run and I may need to go to the Mayo clinic, I was referred to an acupuncturist in town. I can’t say her treatments helped me feel any better but fortunately, she referred me to a chiropractor and naturopathic doctor who WAS able to help me. After running his own series of tests, he concluded that I was too high in several heavy metals. Huh?? Upon first hearing this, as this was my first fore into the world of natural medicine, I thought this notion sounded completely absurd. But out of total desperation, I followed his recommendations, which included 6 weeks of chelation treatments. (the process of removing heavy metals from the body through intravenous injections)

Slowly but surely, I began to feel better, like myself again. I regained my strength and the low grade fevers disappeared. There is much more to this story but I can tell you this…four and a half years later and I’ve learned to trust my body and my instincts. I 100% believe the implants were causing the issues.

This is what is stated on the FDA website about silicone gel-filled breast implants: (NOTE the “however…”)

“The most frequent complications and adverse outcomes experienced by breast implant patients include capsular contracture, reoperation, and implant removal (with or without replacement). Other common complications include implant rupture, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring, pain, and infection. In addition, women with breast implants may have a very low but increased likelihood of being diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

MRI continues to be an effective method of detecting silent rupture of silicone gel-filled breast implants. If you have silicone gel-filled breast implants, the FDA recommends that you receive MRI screening for silent rupture 3 years after receiving your implant and every 2 years after that.

There is no apparent association between silicone gel-filled breast implants and connective tissue disease, breast cancer, or reproductive problems. However, in order to definitively rule out these and other rare complications, studies would need to be much larger and longer than those conducted so far.”

There are thousands of women whose lives are being ruined by breast implant illness. It is real and it is scary. Since my explant, I have not had one single bout of inflammation in my spine which was a constant source of discomfort for me this past year. I would ache all the time. I have also not had any heart palpitations which were a more recent development and a common one in women with implants.

I share my story in hope that I can save someone else from making this costly mistake. I’m thankful I was led to a friend who had the courage to open up about her own experience with BII. Here is what I will tell you. Do your research before getting this procedure done. Do more than I did. The perspective you can gain in four years is pretty incredible. I’ve learned to embrace this amazing body I was given and love it for all it has been through, and not what it lacks.

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