This post is from April 2019 (Moved over from a previous blog, because it's still such an important topic to continue bringing awareness to.)
My Experience With BII:
I’ve been significantly struggling with my health for the last year, the worst of it being in the last 5-6 months. A few unusual symptoms started around the end of 2017 and have slowly progressed into a long list of debilitating symptoms over the last few months. Some days have been better than others, but some days have been extremely difficult. There have been days and weeks where it’s been difficult to make it through the day as a functioning human. And the most difficult thing of all was not being able to do anything about it.
After going from doctor to doctor, having test after test ran and literally trying anything and everything with no answer or relief, I was feeling pretty discouraged. Until exactly one month ago, when I was divinely guided to another woman's Instagram post where she was sharing about her personal struggle with Breast Implant Illness. She was the same age, lived in Atlanta, had a similar lifestyle and had all the same symptoms. My stomach dropped. I knew it was the answer.
I made the decision in 2017 to get implants and I would have never imagined that they could wreck so much havoc on someone’s body. But there are thousands of women who have suffered or are still suffering with debilitating symptoms caused by the ingredients that the implants are made out of. Some are still searching for answers like I was, which is why I’m sharing. And to encourage anyone considering implants to really research the risks, as more information is coming out from the FDA each day. Just because the FDA says something is safe or because something has become more normalized by society definitely doesn’t mean that it’s safe or the best option for your health. There are studies that show where silicone caused autoimmune responses in women in the 90’s. The FDA has also kept thousands of breast implant complications hidden from the public.
We now know that the implants are made up of more than 40 toxic chemicals and heavy metals that bleed into the body from the day of implantation. These chemicals and heavy metals were causing a chronic + systemic inflammatory response (autoimmune response) throughout my body. Implants are a foreign object, so it doesn’t matter who you are, your body is going to try to protect you from them. This is why a capsule is formed around the implant after it’s placed into your body. However, everyone’s immune system is different. Some people react immediately to the implants and some people react years or even decades later. Some people react with only a few symptoms and some people (like me) react with a list of symptoms. Regardless of the reaction, the implants are bleeding carcinogenic toxins and neurotoxins (see ingredient list below) into the body as soon as they are implanted. Studies show that they begin a slow "gel bleed" as soon as they are implanted, even without a rupture.
Image from www.healingbreastimplantillness.com
I also found the same chemicals list on Allergan's website.
Symptoms I experienced with BII (not knowing that the implants were the cause):
It started at the end of 2017 with mild, ongoing fatigue (very unusual for me), sinus infections/colds that wouldn’t go away and sudden bouts of extreme anxiety, depression and mood swings. I’ve experienced anxiety and low moments throughout my life but they were always tied to a certain circumstance or situation. The anxiety and depression I experienced over the last year was different. It was scary and unexplained and often times debilitating. I felt like I was living in a constant state of panic but also had no desire to participate in life (a weird existential dread).
By the summer of 2018, I was experiencing several more issues: hair loss (even in eyebrows/lashes), chronic fatigue, extreme brain fog, skin changes and extreme bloating/digestive issues. I became intolerant to more and more foods. It also became difficult to tolerate even one alcoholic drink. All I could think was that it was due to stress and my go, go, go mentality. I’ve never been very good at “resting.” But I was working on it. I was exercising way less, which was huge because I rarely ever missed a day of working out (which I realized was a deeper issue but that's another post). I eliminated my 2 hours or more commute to work to further reduce the stress in my life. I was meditating, spending time in nature, sitting in the infrared sauna, taking new supplements and trying any and every type of alternative medicine that I could. Acupuncture was a life-saver. I started going twice a month and it helped so much. I definitely was seeing improvements but shortly after a trip to Europe in September, everything took a turn for the worse.
By November (the same month I started my health blog- how ironic!), all the previous symptoms had gotten worse, I broke out in shingles, I couldn’t recover from my workouts, I had debilitating joint/muscle pain/morning stiffness, random numbness/tingling in hands and feet, extremely dry eyes/skin/hair and systematic/whole body inflammation. My acupuncturist said she had never seen someone with so much inflammation in their body. It hurt for her to even lightly touch my body. I literally thought I was dying, so I finally went to the doctor. It took me a while because I kept expecting things to clear up.
I went to several different specialist at first to have different tests ran. Other than being told I had anxiety and a hormonal imbalance, most came back normal. One doctor suggested I be treated for my anxiety and my OBGYN suggested birth control for my hormonal imbalance. I've been into health and nutrition for a while and one of my biggest things is getting to the root of the problem. Sometimes treatments and medication are necessary, but the first step should always be to ask, what's causing this? What's causing the anxiety? What's causing the hormonal imbalance? And then to treat or remove whatever is causing it, instead of just medicating to keep the symptoms at bay.
So at the beginning of December 2018, I went to see a functional medicine doctor. I chose a functional medicine doctor because they focus on getting to the root cause of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. I didn’t want medicine for depression or any other issue. I wanted to know why my mind + body were shutting down. She ran some tests and all my systems were sluggish. Everything was basically underperforming, which I knew. However, my cortisol levels (stress hormone) were overperforming. My adrenal glands were basically shot from my body being in a constant state of “fight or flight.” So we created a plan to start out by reducing my stress levels externally (which I was really already doing...).
I stopped exercising for all of December except for walking or yoga. This was hard for me because I love intense workouts, but high intense exercise sends the body into fight or flight mode (which is fine if your adrenal glands are functioning properly). I was also to the point where exercise was too painful. My muscles/joints couldn’t handle it. One intense workout would cause an arthritis like flare up where I could barely walk for days. So I walked and rested and prayed and cried and thought I was going crazy. Oh, my functional medicine doctor also recommended a 2 week long liver detox and drinking celery juice every morning to help with sluggishness, digestion and inflammation. So, I did that too. And sat at home by myself a lot, reading, researching, journaling and wondering what was happening to me.
Thankfully, by January…I actually felt better. I got excited and started participating in life again. I started my classes back at F45 but shortly realized, I couldn’t handle it. So I sadly paused my membership again in February. I went back to resting and continued juicing and supplementing and praying to God that a miracle would happen. Well, it finally did…the day I came across the post about breast implant illness.
Breast Explant with En Bloc Surgery:
I knew when I read the Instragram post about BII that it was the answer. The thing is, there’s no test you can take to prove that the implants are the cause. But I know my body well and I trust my intuition. It just made sense! My symptoms started shortly after I got the implants and I had no previous health issues prior to that. And regardless, I just wanted the toxic things out of my body after learning what they were made out of! So, I reached out to the person who I’m so thankful for on Instagram and asked her who her doctor was. The next day, I called and made an appointment. That same week, I was in his office for a consultation. His surgery schedule was full for almost 2 months. I honestly didn't think I could make it that long. There was no way I could keep going the way that I felt. Thankfully, as I was leaving, another patient called and canceled her surgery for the next week because she was sick. Hallelujah!
I had my surgery on April 4th, 2019. They removed the implants and the surrounding capsules. If you decide to get the surgery done, it’s very important to have the capsules removed as well. The capsules hold in a lot of the toxins to keep them from leaking into the body, as well as any bacteria or final growth. Yes, that happens too. All of it has to go or else the toxic stuff they’re holding stays in the body.
The surgery went great. I’ve been at home recovering for the last week. It was a lot less painful than the first surgery. The surgery requires drains (see top photo) to drain the fluids that fill up in the area where the implant was. Draining it helps with healing and preventing infection. I had to empty and measure the drains each day. I had them removed on day 7, which was the best thing ever!
It’s been just over a week since I made the decision to have them removed and almost all of my symptoms are already gone. It’s crazy! I still have a lot of healing to do + detoxing my body from all of the chemicals, but I’m just so thankful. I honestly feel like I was just gifted a second chance at life. Also, people, please know that you are already beautiful just the way you are!! Something I wish I would’ve told myself 2 years ago. At least I know it today. The gift of self acceptance, small + saggy breasts and all.
Which brings me to the question that several friends asked once I told them I was getting the surgery: Are you afraid of what your breasts will look like after? The answer is no. I honestly didn’t care. I would rather have absolutely nothing there than feel the way that I felt. I just wanted my health back. I have a totally different outlook on beauty and breasts and what really matters! Yes, they are small. Yes, they are natural. And I absolutely love them! Honestly, I feel so much more like myself. The way God designed me to be.
If you’re someone who is suffering from these symptoms or any other silent illness, please know that YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Your body is trying to tell you something and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Trust yourself. Be your own advocate. Keep seeking answers. Don’t give up. And please feel free to reach out to me! Whatever it is you’re going through, I may not have any answers but I’m always here to listen.