Yup.

When people find out I just had an explant surgery the first thing I hear is:  I didn’t know you even had implants!   Well, good?  Actually no, why the hell get implants if no one knows you have implants?  

My silicone bags fit me, not huge, not up near my chin.  Even in swim suits no one knew I had implants.

But I removed them a week and a half ago.  Here’s my story:

On Halloween 2017, two weeks after stepping off stage with one of my best physiques, I laid down on that surgical table and got the sleepy juice.  about an hour later, I was waking up feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest.   I couldn’t wait to get bandages off and see them.

You see, since I went through puberty I’ve been disgusted by my breasts.  And it got worse after I nursed babies and went through preps for competition (weight loss / weight gain).  I was self conscious of them constantly.  So I figured breast implants were the thing that would solve my issues.

What I didn’t realize was that the things I hated about my breasts weren’t going to be changed with making them fuller.  

About 2 weeks after surgery, I decided to start dressing for working out and at least going through motions (I’d eventually gain about 20 lbs during recovery). I remember holding 5lb dumbbells doing some very minimal shoulder raises and my chest started breaking out with a heat rash/hives that spread to my neck, the inside of my arms, and down my stomach.  From then on, for about 6 months, whenever I got warm – workouts, pms, warm showers or just laying under a blanket watching a movie – I’d get this rash.  Then….. it stopped.  

About the same time as the rash started my hair started breaking about mid length in the back of my head.  No matter what I did, what I ate, what supplements I took, shampoo & conditioner I used, oil/fats/carbs/proteins I ate, used, etc it broke.  I spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on products and nothing worked to restore my hair to what it was prior to implants. I didn’t connect the dots until almost 2 years and many small crying sessions regarding my lack of hair growth and extreme breakage.

For the next 2 years I would ‘stay ready’ (I decided on no more stage but wanted to do more photoshoots), meaning:  eating in a caloric deficit constantly, using Anavar during photoshoot preps (I thought this probably contributed to some of my hair loss) and working my tail off to stay lean and build any muscle I could under those circumstances.   Frankly, I’ve never felt better in my life.  My body ran smooth and like a damn machine. 

Unfortunately, May 2019 I went down to San Diego for my last photoshoot (hadn’t intended it to be my last but….).  I got into town, went through my normal routines to shed water and refeed to look my best.  Something was wrong.

My body started to retain water. After the 2nd day of shooting, a friend hooked me up with an IV and diuretic protocol and I lost 12 lbs of water in about 16 hours.  I looked amazing for my 3rd day of shooting, but something was just not right.  

My hair when I am in SD is usually a bit on the curly side but manageable, despite the breakage.  Unfortunately for this shoot, my hair was so unmanageable I had a minor break down (hair coupled with water gain is a surefire disaster when shooting beach, implied nude and studio).

I got home and decided I needed to give my body a break.  So, I took a week or two to ease up in my training, ate at a slightly higher caloric intake and from there things spiraled.  

I became exhausted no matter how much sleep I got.  I had trouble going to sleep and staying asleep.  Brain fog – which I’d had for the better part of two years but decided I was just getting old, got worse.  My eyes began to burn from exhaustion and even when I wasn’t so tired, they were sometimes painful.  My skin began breaking out in weird bumps and rashes – especially where I held my fat, the saddle bags and thighs.  These bumps felt like something was trying to escape from my body and this was the only outlet it could attempt.  I developed rashes around my smile lines, my hair started falling out in mass amounts, my body temp was all over the place, hot flashes (I was 35 and 36 – it could be menopause or…). I  developed GI distress. I developed anxiety and my heart would feel like it was seizing up. My dry skin could not be quenched.  Constantly dry and flakey. My lips were constantly chapped and peeling. Body aches, poor recovery from workouts, water retention that was worse than I’d ever experienced with PMS, night sweats. My tongue was swollen and felt dry. My recovery from workouts was horrible and even taking multiple days a week off of training + eating more + supplementing, etc did nothing to help.

After a very stressful month in the summer of 2019, I broke down from exhaustion and the burning of my eyes was too much that I couldn’t go out for a drink with a friend.  I lost my cool about my hair and cried for probably an hour. The next day I woke up and when I went to the mirror, I felt like my face had changed.  My skin looked grey, my eyes were sunken and not as vibrant as they used to be.  I looked much older than I had in months prior.  Could have been the lack of sleep and the stressful month, but I just felt I didn’t look right – something wasn’t right. 

By this time, I’d been to 2 or three doctors, all taking blood,  giving my hypothetical diagnosis (blood work did not confirm) me with this or that but no treatment would help.  One overseeing doctor told me I’d just need 10 hours of sleep. I was pissed. A single mother, small business owner.  I wouldn’t be able to get 10 hours of sleep or more….  and I didn’t think sleep was much of a contributing factor in these issues.  I can’t say for sure, but my intuition told me this wasn’t it.

So this particular night, I typed in all my symptoms and hit enter.  Breast Implant Illness was one of the first hits.

I began researching silicone toxicity.  

I stopped using all products with any form of silicone in them: hair products, lip balm, skin care, lotion, mascara.  

No problems went away but they improved. 

That convinced me – silicone was the most likely culprit for many of these symptoms.

Reading further into Implant Illness I found a doctor in Jupiter, Florida who, to this day, I haven’t found any patient that has anything negative to say about.  He no longer does implanting, only explanting and other procedures.  He believes that this illness is real and his eye for aesthetics is second to none.  Booking with Dr. David Rankin made me feel like I couldn’t go wrong, even if an explant didn’t solve all of these issues. 

I booked with him shortly after I discovered that silicone seemed to be the main culprit of my issues.  

If silicone containing products enhanced my symptoms, it made sense to me to get these bags of silicone out of my body.  There was no way that this much silicone INSIDE my body couldn’t be effecting how much silicone my body could handle outside of my body.

8 months later: I got my implants out.

I traveled to Florida from Washington state.  I knew that if my implants were coming out, I wanted to make sure that aesthetically they were going to be pleasing to not only myself by to whomever will be seeing them (hardly anyone saw my implanted breasts except a few photographers during shoots). I wanted to be confidant and that meant some resizing, reshaping.

The truth is, I never really cared or liked having larger breasts.  I just hated the sagging and sizing of landmarks prior to getting them bigger.  Looking back at pictures, pre implants, I rather liked my flatter chest, especially when I was lean and looked more athletic. The sagging could have been fixed as well as my larger areolas (thanks breastfeeding + weight gains and losses)  without implants.  No one told me that was possible. And I never asked the right questions.

I woke up from surgery August 5, 2020, had the nursing service take me to the condo I was staying at and slept the rest of the day.  That evening, my face was oily. I felt a weird sense of freedom.  Not like my implants were prisons or like life was fucking miserable with them, but I just felt a sense of inner calm and peace. I knew I would miss my fuller chest – especially side boob, I loved the side boob, but I also knew I wasn’t going to miss those chest bags.  I was just at total peace.  

Fast forward 2 weeks post surgery….

I’m sleeping better, feeling more rested after sleeping even when not great.  My eyes are not burning nearly as bad as they were.  My skin is more colorful and oily in the mornings.  My energy is better, I’ve lost 10 lbs without doing a single thing exercise wise and am eating well – the implants were about a pound and a half to two pounds. Which just tells me how much inflammation by body was hanging onto. 

I’ve had comments on how much more youthful I look.

The real test will be when I start training again.  How will my body handle that extra physical stress and will it recover like it used to?  

One thing is for sure, I am happy with my breasts.  I couldn’t even say that when I had implants.  I was embarrassed by them then.  Even with tape on and the healing process only just beginning from incisions, etc.  I am in love with my chest.  I feel less bulky, proud and excited for this new shape and journey.

Implants never did anything for me except make what I hated about my breasts, even bigger.  This choice to explant hasn’t left me with some epiphany of self love, but rather being grateful for do-overs in this life.  I got implants, they weren’t working for me.  I got to remove them and try over.  It’s just a perk of life.  

What I’ve Learned:

In life we are given do-overs.  Nothing is permanent until death.  Take advantage of this constantly.

Being up front, honest and vocal about your needs and wants could save you money, stress, health and happiness years down the road.  I’ve learned this in relationships, my implant to explant journey, business, and many other areas of life.  It pays to be honest and up front.

Physical attractiveness varies from person to person.  Regardless of how I feel, or how I feel I look, there is always someone who thinks I’m attractive.  Trying to alter myself for someone else will always turn out poorly.  But knowing there is always someone who will think you’re attractive makes the need to change yourself less appealing.

Research.  It’s worth it.  It may not change what you do.  But at least you’re armed with the info when you pull the trigger on whatever decision you’re making.

I was no where near as bad a shape as many women who I spoke with who were and are suffering from Breast Implant Illness.  I made the decision to get rid of my implants before life became extremely miserable and I took them out on the CHANCE that I would feel better without them.  

Unfortunately the FDA is only now starting to recognize that implants may be responsible for many issues related to autoimmune disease and hormonal disruption, etc etc etc.  

I don’t hope to deter anyone from getting implants.  

Instead I hope simply to bring some awareness that this can happen to anyone.  I didn’t think it would happen to me (yes, I’d heard about this prior to getting implants but thought it could never happen to me because I am was such a health aware person).  At least if you go into getting implants, aware that this is a possibility, you can be on the lookout, prepare financially (explanting costs more than implanting and you’ll want to have some money saved up just in case) and make the decisions necessary going forward.

Please feel free to share this story with anyone you think could benefit from it.  

If you have any questions, I am an open book and would be happy to chat about this topic.

breastimplantinfo.org

breastimplantillness.com

fda.gov

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