Breast Implant Illness
Breast Implants could be making hundreds of women SICK
Sitting up in my recovery bed, still only 4 days since having my breast implants removed, called an Explant, I have a strong urge to share with the world what is becoming a very misunderstood endemic, Breast Implant Illness or BII.
I only found out about BII last year and since then have found multiple reasons to avoid having my implants out ranging from doubt, cost, time off work, aesthetics and more.
Going through BII and having any breast operation is a difficult enough thing to deal with. It takes courage to mention it to your friends, to your work, and definitely to the world!
I would like to help you with the transition, the courage, the decision.
And if you are considering having implants please read this first. It’s not to make you panic but to reconsider whether a breast lift or reconstruction is all you actually need.
I will discuss a little about BII (which medically is still not acknowledged despite hundreds of women suffering similar symptoms that abate when the implants are removed), treatment options and what you can do.
I will share my personal story here and also add in some professional tips.
If you would like more information about another widely used implantable device, the mirena, check out my blog here.
Breast Implant Illness – I had never heard of it.
You may be like I was 12 months ago.
Discovering for the first time that breast implants can cause disease – or unfold a disease in your body.
It’s really confronting joining the dots and working out that maybe your implants are making you sick. The things making you sick are hanging inside your body.
I don’t believe in remaining a bird with a broken wing. I believe in taking positive action, any action and learn to fly again!
Maybe by sharing my story about BII or my illness that seemed to follow implants going in, then it will help you make a decision.
This is an interview I gave on the Today Show 2 weeks after my explant.
I never thought that my breast implants, done in Thailand in 2012, might be making me sick.
I had never heard of BII until 12 months ago.
Running a business, traveling, raising three children shared care, always made me think my ongoing fatigue and sicknesses were due to me being run down.
I had always suffered with a weaker immune system and allergies but on reflection there was usually something else happening at the same time… making me sick, pushing me over the edge. Allergies to foods, dust might and implanted devices!
So last year I went to Austin, Texas, to attend a business course by a an entrepreneur business coach, a down to earth family guy with a zest for life. At the end of the three day course, he said “So Sam, what is really holding you back?” “We all see your greatness and potential but you are not maximising it?” (or words to that effect)
I thought long and hard about it.
Continually I would end up with chest infections. Last year I had aspergillus pneumonia.
My irritable bowel at times would be out of control – and had blastocystis hominis infection. All plausible after traveling to third world countries.
So my reply to Alex that day was “I seem to burn out. In fact the only time I feel really good is when I am on antibiotics!”
To which he replied ” Sam , do you have implants?”
Fortunately he had my total trust as a question like this can seem so out of the blue. Especially from a business coach.
I replied “yes”.
“I seem to burn out. In fact the only time I feel really good is when I am on antibiotics!”
He said I may have BII. Which I had never heard of before. He said his wife Cadey had it and last year had her implants out and her life changed. So I chatted with Cadey. Now these people had nothing to gain by helping me out with my health but both believed it was a message women with implants needed to hear.
It was through talking to Cadey and watching her videos, that I realised I may have missed something important.
Had I accidentally poisoned myself?
The thought had never occurred to me, and whilst I had the implants put in for aesthetic purposes, they were not “things’ or items I regularly showed off or boosted on my insta account. Quite the opposite.
I had a love-not-so-in-love relationship with them.
I liked the fact they covered up my ribs (which my previous bag pipes hadn’t) and they made me look healthy in photos, otherwise I disliked the “buoy” feeling I had hugging people. They were always in between me and other people.
I could never give a proper heart to heart hug any more.
I also didn’t like the “bolt on Gold Coast” look. The beach strip I live on in Australia is likened to Vegas and I have always tried to step above that and be classy. I found the “bolt ons” were a handicap for this not an advantage.
And when I spent time in Europe, big full boobs really did look Americana not Classy european.
Aside from the physical appearance issues I had, I had suffered a lot of nerve damage in theatre when the implants were inserted. This is really common.I no longer had nipple sensation – in fact they hurt to touch.
And the bulky things (even though only 300cc) would strain my back and neck. My friend and chiropractor had advised against getting them saying they would wreck my back. I didn’t really appreciate at the time that the extra weight would put my whole nervous system under strain. Which it did.
Following neck trauma in 2013, I was left with numbness in my two fingers on my left hand.
The first thing I noticed after surgery in recovery was that my numbness had gone and I could feel my fingers again. Was it the nerve damage or was it the implants?
Over the last few years (I had my implants for 6 years) I have developed an under active thyroid.
This can occur from burn out but also from an over-activated immune system.
My weight soared by 8 kg, and for someone that exercised daily and ate incredibly well, this was stressful.
My friend who is a personal trainer, would say, you need to join a gym. I would tell her I couldn’t because my body would throb so much some days I didn’t want to get out of bed.
I don’t really like labels nor diagnoses but I have the classic symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
I had some other very extreme illnesses along the way like aspergillus pneumonia (fungus growing in my lungs) which made me very sick. I had all sorts of dramas trying to heal a tooth which eventually was extracted and lead to a crown, but would this have happened if I had been in optimal health – I don’t know.
Fortunately I never suffered with the brain fog and depression and anxiety that others talk about but I have such a rigid “HAPPY ROUTINE” that I would be shocked if I did.
How do you feel with BII?
I was reading in the “support” groups how women were getting exhausted trying to prove they have BII, self diagnosing, asking a doctor not aware (or willing to discuss the possibilities) of BII wanting a diagnosis.
BUT my BIG POINT is why, do you need to be diagnosed with BII?
If you had implants inserted, then started to feel unwell, have had a string of unexplained mishaps, developed chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, fibromyalgias, an underactive thyroid, IBS, hormone issues, auto immunity of any sorts, then just get the implants out.
Your body should treat ANY foreign object as a potential threat to its survival and for some of us, it is dialled up way too high. If this is you, just get them out. Why get the diagnosis?
It doesn’t change the treatment which is to get them out!
I must say I feel the exact same about gluten sensitivity – if gluten is affecting you – you suspect it is. Why get a diagnosis. Just stop eating it and if you feel better, you are fixed. You don’t need a label.
This is a comprehensive list of typical symptoms but as you can see, or if you have any medical back ground, these symptoms could be menopause, burn out, any auto immune condition, gluten sensitivity and more. There is a link to the support group I was once a part of.
I was shocked to see the MAYO clinic don’t have Breast Implant Illness, BII, recognised so I have referred to the link above. Good information and probably the most comprehensive site around.
My personal opinion is that you don’t need to SUE, get hung up on who is right , who is wrong. Life is too short for that stuff. No one made you put implants in, if they don’t suit you, get them out. It’s about being healthy not right.
IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BII, GET YOUR IMPLANTS OUT.
Give your body a break from the artificial foreign bodies.
You can always get them put back in down the track if you think they were not the cause or if you miss them.
STEPS to EXPLANT and recover from BII
Find a great surgeon
Join a support group
Be optimally fit mentally and physically
1. Finding a great surgeon
Things have changed a lot from years ago where patients felt they didn’t have a say and couldn’t have a nice surgeon. NOW days you can find kind great surgeons. Getting a diagnosis of BII isn’t that important.
These are things that would be high on my check list:
Seek out referrals (Trish Hammond from Plastic Surgery Hub helped me)
Make sure the surgeon is compassionate. They are about to embark on one of the most defining features we have as women – our breasts … YOUR breasts. You want someone you can trust and feel comfortable with
Ask about their back ground, what is their approach to explanting, will they fashion new boobies with you (there is a lot of stretched skin that may need a lift after explant)
Fees – are they reasonable or way out of your league. I wouldn’t go for cheapest but I would find someone who feels right for your budget
2. Join a support group
Joining a support group for me allowed me to see what dialogue others were having, to see the varying results and to draw upon courage from other women. There are a few support groups going. They are run by admins who generally don’t allow self promotion and with my experience of the USA group – don’t like seeing women accelerate and heal too quickly (I was accused of self promotion even though I never mentioned my brand, products or anything)!
I will say the support and love from women in the groups is amazing.
The negatives can be the advice from non-trained professionals, broken women giving other broken women advice and some of the stories are very overwhelming. I stopped looking at the groups a day ago when I felt it started to feel like I was languishing in an illness that I no longer needed to belong to.
As soon as my implants were out, I was healing.
So now, with my back ground in natural medicines and strong HEALTH ROUTINE I know I am OK on my own.
I am grateful to the groups and you will be too if you need validation, support and understanding.
Be optimally fit and healthy
SO if you are unwell with implants, obtaining full health is hard. Probably impossible. BUT you can do certain things in the build up to explant that will make you healthier for the operation and also fitter and quicker to heal. I will talk more about post op recovery further down the track but in the lead up this is what I did.
a. Hair test analysis
This is an accurate indicator of things your body is struggling with. You can order it through my shop here.
You can post your hair in from any where in the world and find out through your own hair sample what nutrients you may be low in (including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, anti oxidants) and what toxicities maybe affecting you (parasites, fungus, chemicals etc) I did mine and worked hard to remedy the things it showed pre-op.
This is where my surgeon gained my respect.
He values nutrition and good eating as much as the surgical procedure. A rare thing from a medical person. Of course to me it is obvious. We are what we eat and to think any thing different, especially in 2018, is very naive and I cant understand health professionals that do not promote a clean diet. Ie loads of fresh organic vegetables, some fruit, limited sugars, limited grains and no dia
So STOP ALL DAIRY, GLUTEN, Sugars if you can.
Eat more green leafy vegetables, make rainbow salads (ingredients don’t matter just have as many colours in them as you can), eat lean proteins and lots of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, oils).
I actually went to Bali for 5 days before my operation to give my body time to heal before they came out. Eating over their is super easy, organic and so healthy. I do run retreats to Bali where we focus on nourishment so if this is something you are interested in check over my tabs on the home page.
I slept in.
I resigned from my one on one clinic (big decision after 16 years) but I wanted to reduce mental stress.
I drank filtered water and amended any nutritional deficiencies (as shown up by your hair test).
I wanted to have high iron levels (helps with oxygen and healing), adequate magnesium (helps with post op pain), and a health gut (helps with everything and I knew I would be on antibiotics post surgery).
These are the supplements I took but they might not be exact for you.
Magnesium, iron, B12 and folate. Probiotics and St Mary’s thistle from liver detoxification.
I ate fermented foods, bone broths, and went to bed early.
I unfriended “unhealthy friends” from social media, resigned from my clinic (to lower stress and pressure in my life) and started religiously doing my gratitude diary.
I exercised every day, brought in more meditation and imagined incredible health that would soon be mine again.
The SURGICAL PROCEDURE
So on Tuesday 8th May the day had finally come.
I had to catch the train to Brisbane (I live on the Gold Coast) and it was one of those bitter sweet times. I felt alone in the world, didn’t have nor wanted to ask anyone to drive me but had seen all my kids the day before and if I was to die on the table, I was also at peace with the world.
It might sound melodramatic but my mum died on the operating table when she was only 33 years old from a blood clot, so it’s always at the front of my mind when having an operation.
It was a rainy miserable day and I am sure somewhere in the back ground tunes like Vienna by Ultravox were playing.
I entered the hospital not as a confident woman but as a meek mouse. Unsure uncertain if I was doing the right thing.
The staff at the Mater Private Hospital were amazing.
They showed up just how BAD some hospitals I have worked in over the years have been.
Being a patient, with major worries (that don’t impact on the world at large, but definitely your own world) makes you feel very vulnerable and sensitive.
The staff were really incredible.
I didn’t discuss BII with them – no need.
The nurses and doctors all made me feel relaxed. “are you ok? Do you have anything you want us to do, anyone you want us to call?”
As Dr Perron drew on my chest before being wheeled into the theatre I looked down at them one last time.
Could these over inflated foreign bodies be the cause of much pain and ache?
I was about to find out.
Under I went……
And in what felt the blink of an eye, I was awake.
BACK to the ward. And I was so happy I could just be me, recover on my own, no kids to feed, no patients to answer to, for the first time in a long time I felt I was off the treadmill of stress.
POST OP & RECOVERY
Pain relief is the most important thing and prevention of bleeding, and clotting! All at once.
I had those tight stockings on (TED stockings) and SCDS (calf pumps that inflate and deflate to simulate the bodies natural venous return to prevent blood clots).
Pain relief had been discussed with my anaesthetist pre-op and we had decided to go with panadol and oxycodone (low dose morphine). NSAID are commonly used but they cause gastric irritation in me (as they do with one third of people who have them) so they were a NO.
I was expecting lots of pain and on a few occaisions waking from deep sleep would forget my new surgical wounds and would yawn deeply and stretch. I was pretty quickly reminded of the new cuts that will take 4-6 weeks to superficially heal, then another 6 weeks to fully heal.
I used the oxygen for as long as I could, knowing it would help regenerate new cells.
I did meditation on my phone and zoned out.
I used oregano essential oils to boost my immune system and started each meal with the clear broth (even breakfast).
I ate prunes to prevent constipation and ate lean meats and loads of vegetables when I was up to it. The facilities at the Mater Private were fantastic. I sat in the sun to get some vitamin D as soon as I could get up.
I thought it was the best recovery I could have had.
Many women stay for the day, or one night but I asked if I could stay for 2 nights.
I live on my own and just knew the extra rest in hospital would be perfect for my recovery. “Stay the full five days if you want” was my surgeons reply.
Coming home after explant
I was determined to rest as much as I could. Which proved a little tricky with the two kids. But I have been hiding in my bedroom until the weekend when we ventured out, just 3 days post op.
My regime at home has been arnica on my breasts when the support bra is off (after showers).
I did use witch hazel (which is awesome for swelling) but there isn’t much need for it.
I have a pain relief machine from my clinic called frequency specific microcurrent and it has been shown in studies to improve protein synthesis by 500% and new cell growth by an extra 70%. I used it for the first time yesterday.
Supplement wise, I have continued with magnesium, now added in zinc and vitamin C, Super mushrooms to boost my immune system, iron and a probiotic. Some days I have had CoQ10 (this helps with oxygenation) and energy.
Now… there has been a pause in my writing, for mothers day, and yesterday I returned to work…
Now, nearly a week since the operation I feel great.
I have been having broths, healthy eating with loads of vegetables, and today will have my first big walk.
The pain and incision marks are there if I reach up or twist but generally OK.
I even had champagne on mothers day and feel quite good.
I think if you are feeling unwell and it co-incided with your implants then you need to consider they might be the cause.
Any implanted device in your body, ie a mirena, implannon, IUD coil, mesh grafts etc can all potentially activate your immune system and lead to a sick body.
Where possible get them out, detox your body and reassess.
I think it is prudent to have a naturopath and a mainstream doctor helping you navigate with options. I don’t believe in self diagnosis nor the need for any diagnosis. BUT if you are not well, try to find the root cause and deal with it that way.
Eat extraordinarily well, always.
Dairy is for baby cows, not humans. Gluten damages everyone’s gut wall, and sugar is the most over looked cause of inflammation and weight gain.
Move your body daily.
Actively rest your mind daily.
Surround yourself with health mentors not sick ones and find your passion and get on with life.
If you want to do a hair test you can order it here
I have done a podcast with ATP science that I shall link soon too.
I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below and to have the post shared so others might think about their implants being a cause for their illness.
ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR JOURNEYS