It was June 2016 and I was still not feeling very well. It had been eight months of odd things happening to my body with lack of answers. I was still fatigued, lacked focus, and was experiencing brain fog and inflammation. My labs kept coming back overall okay. There were a few labs that would come back a little off, but nothing that would warrant further follow up from my doctors…. however I was not okay with it. Why would my CRP (C-Reactive Protein) be anything but normal? Why would my cholesterol continue to be rising? These were just a few of the questions that led me to do more research on my own #researchfreak. I tried my hardest to keep a smile on my face and to stay positive but it was tough.
I decided to go see my plastic surgeon about a possible allergic or chemical reaction to my recently placed silicone gel implants. Maybe one was leaking and was causing me to be ill?! (Although my symptoms began well over 1 year before my silicone implants were placed, I thought maybe this was exacerbating whatever was going on). I had been noticing that my right breast had an indentation when I flexed my chest muscles so surely it was ruptured and that was why I was continuing to decline.
I saw my local plastic surgeon and first addressed the illness issue. He reassured me that there had been studies done in Europe where they followed some women for “years” and they all continued to be healthy. No adverse effects were found following breast implant surgery is what I was told.
—– months later after all of my research, I found that the majority of these studies in Europe followed women for only 3 years. Wow.. a whopping 3 years. Are you kidding me?! Let me remind you of who I am. I am an educated, intelligent woman with a Masters degree in Science of Nursing. I am a Nurse Practitioner so I have a medical background. I have incredible street smarts with admittedly some intermittent dumb blonde moments-lol. My point is I am able to conduct thorough, accurate research. I do not just google something and believe it is true. This was me researching breast implants for a good 6-9 months just hoping that my research would not point to my breast implants causing my health issues. The last thing I wanted throughout this journey was to have another surgery.
Back to the plastic surgeon appointment…. Whew! I was relieved. I truly believed exactly what he told me.
We then moved on to the indentation matter. He told me that the indentation was my anatomy and that the only way to tell if there was a rupture would be a MRI and that even if I did indeed have a rupture I would not be sick from it. He said he highly doubted I had a rupture, but even from a physical exam standpoint one could not be 100% certain unless I got a MRI.
—– months later I was told the indentation was not an anatomical issue. The indentation was present because he did not repair my chest wall muscle during surgery.
Back to the appointment… I left the office feeling a bit conflicted. I believe what people tell me. Maybe I am foolish, but I do not see the reason to lie or mislead someone. I believed what the surgeon had told me, but at the same time it was difficult to wrap my head around why my indentation was present now and was not present with my saline implants I had for 9 years. It was something that would not leave my mind. I could not find much info on this on my own so I decided I should start with a mammogram.
I was really 50/50 on whether my implants were leaking or not. I went in for my mammogram thinking I would be in and out in under one hour… boy was I wrong. After about 20-30 minutes of a cold, hard machine squashing my boobs the technician asked me to take a seat while the radiologist reviewed my images. About 15 minutes later she said they needed more angles. Score! More squashing (insert eye roll). The squashing did not hurt by any means but I was fearful it was going to cause a rupture of my implants. Another 10 minutes worth of pictures and then another 15 minutes of waiting.
“The radiologist is requesting an ultrasound to be done”.
Fabulous. Just what I was hoping to do all morning. At this point I was not worried I had a rupture, because that would have been apparent to the radiologist. I began to worry about something more significant. The ultrasound took a good 30 minutes and then the radiologist came in. He was not happy with the imaging so he wanted to repeat the ultrasound himself. He was quick… took about a 5-10 minute look and then was finished. He stated he saw some “lesions/spots” on the initial mammograms but could not see them on the ultrasound, so I was to follow up with repeat studies in 3 months.
I left the appointment in tears. I did not have a rupture, they found some abnormal spots, and now I have to wait 3 months to get answers. Part of me was hoping I had a leak and that would be the answer to my health concerns. I would get my implants replaced and I would be better, right?!
I ended up not having to wait the 3 months for a follow up as my health declined rapidly and my primary care doctor who is awesome wanted a MRI ASAP. Who all has gotten a breast MRI done before? If you have not I hope you never have to. You are lying face down, topless on a cold hard machine. Your breasts are hannging out of this contraption for an entire hour and you cannot move the slightest. How somebody who is obese or elderly and frail does this I don’t know?
A few days later I received the results…. completely normal. I was relieved that they did not see any masses, tumors etc, but at the same time I guess I was hoping for an answer. Just a simple rupture I guess. There I was with no diagnosis once again. Frustrating beyond words.
Throughout this entire journey there have been multiple “possible” diagnoses for me, but nothing concrete. I was searching relentlessly for answers and continued to come up with nothing for why I was feeling so poorly and it was extremely difficult. After each blood draw I would get my hopes up that this was the time I was going to have an answer, but nope, no answers were found. There were moments of sadness. There were moments I felt so alone in this journey, because no matter the support system I had, nobody could understand what I was actually going through. There were periods where I would begin to feel better and I would get so optimistic, only to get ill a few weeks later. Rashes, hair loss, fatigue, brain fog, sudden food sensitivities, inflammation, sleepiness…… the list goes on. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!
Although the FDA continues to state that breast implants are safe I have personally encountered multiple women with severe reactions to implants. I have followed thousands of women across the country with debilitating symptoms secondary to breast implants. I have personally spoken to close to 60 women who suffered from breast implant illness. These things are not safe long term.
It has been a little over 3 months since my surgery and I am feeling so much better. My major debilitating symptoms have resolved. My symptoms that I did not think were implant related.. gone! Are all of my symptoms gone? No. Implants did not affect my health overnight and I was not expecting an overnight success. My doctor told me the rule of thumb is one month of healing per year of having breast implants. So for me, that is about 10-11 months of healing. 3 months post op and not a single moment of regret.
I will leave you with this…. how many medications receive FDA approval, then years later get pulled from the market? What about the medications that are still on the market but we continue to see debilitating side effects from? How about the many processed foods that contain gasoline and other chemicals in them that are approved and we ingest daily? Sadly, just because something is FDA approved does not mean it safe.