That’s what us fellow Breasties/Breast Implant Illness Ladies call the implant removal process.
I discovered Breast Implant Illness on December 10th, 2016.
I explanted on October 5th, 2017.
The days, weeks, months in between went a little bit like this:
What have I done!?!?!?!?
Do I really have to get the implants out to know if they are causing me to be sick?
What if I get the implants out and my health does not improve?
GET THESE THINGS OUT OF MY BODY NOW!!!!!!!
What will I look like?
Will insurance cover this procedure?
What if the damage I have done cannot be reversed?
I can’t breathe.
Are there any doctors in Michigan that can do this procedure and remove 100% of the capsule?
Will my skin be stretched out? Will I need a lift?
What if I don’t make it through surgery?
Why did I put myself through unnecessary surgery in the first place?
What if the implants aren’t making me sick and I go through all of this and I hate the way I look and it was all for nothing?
Am I at risk for ALCL?
What if my implants are textured? I thought they were smooth, but WHAT IF THEY ARE TEXTURED?!?
What if I have ALCL right now and that’s why my lymph nodes have been so swollen?!?!?
GET THEM OUT! GET THEM OUT! GET THEM OUT!
It’s almost been 10 years…I need to get the implants replaced anyway…right?
Or do I? My original plastic surgeon said that I don’t really NEED to get them replaced every 10 years…but the FDA says I should…?
What if I wait to get them out and I just develop more symptoms? What if I wait too long and I’m too sick for surgery?
I always knew I would need another surgery someday anyway. Did I think I would have these implants in forever? Until one ruptured?
Will I hate the way I look? Have I ruined my boobs and my body forever?
I struggled, and I struggled HARD.
I was all over the place. One minute I was rushing to get them out, and the next minute I was second guessing the whole thing.
Couldn’t I rise above the vanity?
Couldn’t I put my health first?
What was wrong with me?
My Options For Implant Removal
“Surely there are plastic surgeons in Michigan?” you might ask.
I went back to my original plastic surgeon. He told me that there is no such thing as breast implant illness. He told me that he could remove the implants under local anesthetic. He told me I did not need to remove the scar capsules. Then he tried to sell me on some gummy bear silicone implants.
I booked a consult with a doctor in East Lansing. I ended up cancelling that consult because other women used him, and he did not remove 100% of their scar capsules.
I went to see a female doctor in South East Michigan. Both she and her assistant (who I later found out is her husband) said all the right things. However, I was getting conflicting info from other women in the group who also had consults with her a few months prior. They had been told different things. One woman even had recorded the consultation (with doctor consent). Why did the information given at our consultation appointments conflict?!?! THEN I discovered that this doctor was actually a member of the BII group. Somehow, someone had let her in not realizing that she was a plastic surgeon. AND after she became a member of the group, the things she was telling potential patients started to change.
TOO SKEEZY FOR ME
I wanted someone with a proven track record of completely removing the scar capsules. I wanted someone who had already performed thousands of explants. This was my chance at recovering my health, and I had to do it right. I did not want to be someone’s experiment.
THE BIG THREE
Dr. Feng in Ohio is arguably THE biggest name in the breast implant illness/explant world. She no longer performs implant surgeries. She has been working to convince the medical community about breast implant illness for some time now. Big names like Yolanda Hadid and Crystal Hefner have had their implants removed by Dr. Feng. She is the most expensive of the big three. She has the longest waiting list of the big three. I called her office multiple times, but never got a call back.
For me, the choice was between Dr. Chun in California and Dr. Barnett in Florida.
Both highly regarded. Both experts. Both have thousands of explants under their respective belts. Both do a total capsulectomy/en bloc procedure.
So how do you choose? It came down to a few determining factors for me.
Dr. Chun uses drains on all of his patients. Dr. Barnett does not. The jury is still out on this whole drain thing (in my opinion anyway). Dr. Chun has good reasons for using them, but on the flip side Dr. Barnett has good reasons for not using them. (She only uses them for 24 hours in patients who also get lifts.) His reasons made sense to me, but hers did too.
With Dr. Chun, you don’t know how long you might have to have the drains in. That made it hard to book round trip flights. There were too many unknown variables. Do you book a one way (more expensive)? What if the flights are booked up when you try to come home? Do you just plan to stay in California then for the maximum amount of time that you might have to have the drains in?
To make Dr. Chun happen, my trip to California would have to be 10 days (maybe more) to allow for the uncertainty with the drains. That meant 10 days living out of a hotel. 10 days of eating out. 10 days of my mom also missing out on her life and work and everything that she had going on at home in order to be with me. (She was willing to do whatever I wanted and needed, but that was a lot to ask.)
Also, sitting around in a hotel room for 10 days after surgery did not appeal to me. I wanted to be able to come home and relax. NOT TO MENTION, what if complications arise after the surgery? What do I do if something happens after I get back home from California to Michigan? I have health insurance, but will they cover complications from a surgery NOT covered by them?
Something else to consider…flights to California are 5 hours+ and flights to Florida are only about 2 hours.
Dr. Barnett does not use drains because she is against disturbing the tissue. Your body starts healing after surgery. If you put those drains in for a few days and then pull the tubes out (there is a lot of tubing in your chest) you are disturbing the tissue that is trying to heal. (Not good or necessary.) That is her philosophy anyway.
Dr. Barnett offers a special for people coming from out of town (no, not a discount haha). I flew in on a Tuesday night. I had my pre-op with her on Wednesday and surgery on Thursday. I saw her for my post-op on Friday. I could have flown home that day, but I decided to fly out on Saturday. Less time in a hotel room and more time recovering at home was appealing to me. Dr. Barnett also has special insurance that covers you in case something happens and you need medical attention after leaving Florida.
I was also able to email with her before booking my date. She promptly and thoroughly replied, putting my mind at ease. I saw videos of her (taken by other women) of the post-op process, and I just felt like ok this doctor is for me. She sits down with you and shows you your implants and the capsules. She tells you everything about the surgery and talks about removing each of the implants and their capsules. I wish that I had filmed mine. I was so out of it…even the day after surgery. I thought about asking, but then I did not 🙁 Seeing those videos really sealed the deal for me.
You can also cancel or change your surgery date up to two weeks before without being penalized. Life happens. I liked having that option.
So in the end, I chose Dr. Barnett. If I lived closer to California instead, I may have picked Chun.
These surgeons are so fantastic, it’s really a toss up.
My Explant Dilemma
I originally booked a date in July 2017. I ended up moving my date back to October for a few reasons. I did not want to have my surgery in the middle of bathing suit season. I was not sure how I would react after the implants came out. I wanted to think that I would be strong and that I wouldn’t care, but I didn’t want to make a difficult process even harder by doing it in the summer.
Also, you need to keep the scars out of the sun for a long time…months…a year would be ideal. So again, taking implants out in the middle of summer didn’t seem like a great plan.
I was nervous, scared, and still unsure. Honestly, I was freaking out up until the surgery. I knew what needed to be done. I was not going to let myself back out. But it was hard.
Insurance does not cover explant (they don’t cover implants either). There are some cases where they do, but I did not meet any of those criteria.
I decided that no matter what I looked like, I was going to be ok with it. I told myself over and over again, they’re just boobs…they’re just boobs…they’re just boobs. It doesn’t matter. I tried to believe it.
When it came down to the wire, I decided that no matter what, I was going to have to have another surgery someday. I always knew there would be more surgery. Implants don’t last forever. So I could wait until one popped…or until they were really old…and get them replaced or get them out. The FDA says 10 years…and mine were past the 10 year mark as of April, 2017.
After everything I learned about implant illness and ALCL, there is no way that I would opt to get the implants replaced when the time came. I decided that I had the time and the money NOW. If I waited until an implant popped, or they got super old, or I was even more sick…who knows? Would I have the time? Would I have the money? What if I had a husband and young kids depending on me? That would make things SO much worse. The time was NOW. Did I really want to carry babies in my body at the same time I was carrying these potential disease creators? What would that do to my future baby?
The internal debate raged on for a long time. The external debate raged on too. To my Mom, my good friend Susan, and my sister Kate: Thank you for talking it out with me over and over and over again.
In the end, if they were potentially making me sick, they had to go.
I never had any dramatic weight loss or gain. I had never been pregnant. I had never breastfed. I was still relatively young with decent skin elasticity. My chances for a favorable outcome were good.
We stayed at the Hibiscus Suites Inn. I got a heck of a deal on a room because I had booked with Dr. Barnett. This was the hotel she recommended. I can see why. Her office is LITERALLY next door. We walked there for the pre-op and the post-op. That was great. Otherwise, I would not recommend staying there. I was not too impressed with the quality or the cleanliness. It definitely was not as nice as the pictures made it out to be.
I do love Dr. Barnett. She spends a lot of time with you at the pre-op. She wants to go over EVERY SINGLE SYMPTOM. She takes her time to ask you questions, answer your questions, and explain the surgery. She tells you her exact reasoning behind everything she does.
When she felt my implants and breast tissue, she said something like, “I do feel sorry for you girls that are going to be itty bitty after explant, but like my boyfriend says, ‘More than a mouthful is a waste.'” Oh Dr. B 🙂
She also explained her background, her medical training, the thousands of explants she has done over the years. She told me that she wasn’t really sure about BII in the WAY beginning (maybe early 90s?). But then she was doing some kind of course or professional development (or whatever it is that surgeons do to keep up on their skills) at MIT or Harvard…somewhere pretty important anyway. They were looking at a titanium steel hip implant that had been removed from a patient. It had been in the person’s body for a while. She said that under the microscope, you could see little divots all over the FREAKING TITANIUM STEEL where the body had attacked it. The human body is a force to be reckoned with…especially when you put something in there that doesn’t belong. She said after that, after seeing how the body had attacked that implant, she became a believer in BII.
The Morning of the Surgery
I was supposed to be the first surgery of the day, but another woman who was also booked for that day had diabetes or high blood pressure and had to go first. That was ok. At least I didn’t have to wake up SUPER early and be rushed or sleep deprived.
The surgery center hooked me up to all the machines. I have to say, I handled that IV like a BOSS. However, they forgot to get a urine sample before they hooked me up. (They have to do a pregnancy test before surgery.) I knew that I wasn’t pregnant anyway, BUT I had to go pee in a cup with all the machines and IV hooked up or I had to sign off that I declined the test. I signed off. It still bugs me that they missed that step though.
The woman in the bed next to me was coming out of her anesthesia while I was waiting for my surgery. She was screaming and yelling and making a big scene.
“HELP. SOMEONE HELP ME. I CAN’T SEE. I’M DEAD. HEEELLLLLPPPPPP.” – crazy lady
“You can’t see because your eyes are closed. OPEN YOUR EYES.” – nurse
If my life were a sitcom (which sometimes I think it might be), that was the comedic relief of this episode.
The nurses came by to apologize and assure me that I would be on a different kind of anesthesia.
Dr. Barnett came by to talk to me before the surgery too.
I did not feel too nervous. They came to wheel me back. I said “goodbye” and “I love you” to my mom. You always gotta say those things just in case.
I didn’t feel nervous for me, but I felt like a piece of crap for putting my family through this…AGAIN.
One of the surgery guys (intern? resident? nurse?) seemed pretty cute. Well, he’s about to see my implants get cut out of my chest. So there’s that.
Then they made me talk to them about stuff as they gave me the good drugs. I’m sure I babbled on quite a bit and gave them all a good laugh.
That’s all I remember.
When I woke up, my chest was wrapped up extremely tight. I was under a warm blanket this time too. I didn’t have to feel my chest to know. Even though I was wrapped up super tight, I felt so much lighter.
Pain. Lots more pain this time. When can I take some more meds?
Dr. Barnett got 100% of the capsule out. I was so happy, I could have cried.
When you have scar tissue scraped off your rib cage and pec muscle, you can’t use your arms. You can’t push yourself up. You can’t open car doors. Basically you’re useless from the waist up for a week or so.
I slept sitting up for many nights.
I went back to work on the Wednesday after my surgery. I probably should have stayed home and recovered more, but I had a crazy substitute who let the kids dance on the tables. It was time to go back.
I also slept out in a tent about a week after that. Probably shouldn’t have done that either. I was in rough shape for the next couple of days. I definitely used my right side too much. The pain radiated up my neck on that side…for the whole weekend. I couldn’t turn my neck. Now sometimes when I laugh or smile or move just right, that muscle or nerve catches on that side. Just a quick little reminder every once in a while of what I did to my body. I wish I had never messed with my little bitties in the first place.
I still get that weird tingle in my back too. That probably won’t ever go away.
My ribs are pushed in where the implants used to sit. Dr. B told me they would puff back out. It has been a year, and I can definitely say that they have…still not 100% though. They probably never will be. Who knows.
When she took the wrapping off at the post-op, I was prepared for the worst. It really wasn’t that bad. The incisions looked kind of crazy, but I was prepared for that. She does a special kind of stitching that looks like Frankenstein’s monster. When they heal though, they are super flat and all you get is a fine line. I trusted her special skills, and I have not been disappointed. My incision scars are fantastic.
Below is a picture of the capsule. I think it is cool, but some people may be grossed out.
You have been warned.
Close your eyes and keep scrolling if you are faint of heart.
One year post-explant, and you know what?
I can breathe! No more pressure on my chest!
I can exercise freely! Push ups, planks, you name it!
I can lay on my stomach!
I can hug people without feeling like I have melons crushing my chest in (or like the implants are going to pop!)
I feel so light and free!
I have some peace of mind. No more implants. No more scar tissue.
No regrets about the removal. NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE.
I wish that I had never messed with my boobs in the first place.
I love and appreciate my body and all that it does for me.
I value my health more than ever.
I will never put my body (or my family and friends) through me having another unnecessary surgery.
I love my little tiny boobs so much. They are super cute.
Are they as cute as they would have been if I had just loved them in the first place and left them alone? Probably not, but I still think they turned out great, and I love them.
I feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before.
I realize now that there was never anything wrong with me. There was something wrong with those people who made comments about my body. They had no right to do so. Their comments probably stemmed from insecurity about their own bodies or themselves in some way.
I learned so much about myself and about self-love. I also learned a lot about trusting your own intuition and trusting the signs that your body is giving you.
As to regaining my health…
I have seen some improvements.
I had these implants in for 10 long years. 10 years worth of damage has occurred. That’s not going to get better overnight.
With every month that goes by, my periods seem to be returning to their pre-implant ways. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
I still deal with the itching. But let’s be honest here. I have not been super great about my nutrition over the past year like I should have been. Life gets in the way sometimes. A few curve balls were thrown my way. I’m working at getting back on track. Your gut is the first thing to go and the last thing to heal. I’ll be purchasing a masticating juicer soon, so stay tuned for that!
It usually takes 1-2 years to heal. I am patient. I have faith.
I have been sick WAY less since implant removal. Knock on wood. This is the first fall since 2006 that I haven’t been sick.
I go for another round of blood tests soon. It will be interesting to see where my ANA and EBV levels are at now.
I still have some fears in the back on my mind though. What if I have done irreparable damage? What if I get cancer down the road? Will it be because of the implants? There will be no way to know. All I can do now is try to heal, exercise, focus on proper nutrition, move forward the best I can.
For Those Considering Implants
I ask you, is it really worth it? Put aside the medical debate over Breast Implant Illness for a minute.
Is it worth the risk?
Unnecessary surgery. More than one.
The risk of ALCL (that “rare” cancer I was talking about earlier).
What if Breast Implant Illness is true?
What if 50,000+ women (and growing daily) are on to something?
50,000+ women with implants and issues.
Is it worth possibly tanking your health?
They are just boobs. I know it seems like the end of the world. I know that not having them is consuming you. It consumed me too when I was 17.
29-year-old Alyssa is here to tell you that THEY ARE JUST BOOBS. I’ve been through the implant surgery and the explant surgery. I’m here to tell you that it’s not worth your time, your money, or the risk to your health. Having boobs is just not that important.
My only regret is feeling like I needed them in the first place.
I’m not here to get into the whole “Is Breast Implant Illness real?” debate. Instead, I ask you to join the Facebook group. Read the stories of the women who are sick. Read the stories of the women who explant and heal and decide for yourself what you believe.
I know that the FDA says breast implants are safe. I ask you to think about WHO funded these implant safety studies…the implant companies? Does the FDA know that women who reported symptoms with implants were dropped from the studies?
I know my body. I trust my gut. I trust common sense.
When we have organ transplants, we’re put on anti-rejection meds. Makes sense that your body would reject foreign human tissue. What about when foreign objects are placed in the body composed of man-made materials? How does the body react? When you get a sliver or a piece of glass in your foot (assuming there is no infection) what does your body do? Your body walls it off and pushes out the invader. How about placing two large sacs made from silicone over your vital organs? Is there really no leaching of chemicals? Your immune system really doesn’t have a reaction to all that?
For 10 years, my body was sending sign after sign that something was not right. You can cover up symptoms with medications, but I made a decision to try to get to the root cause of all this dysfunction I was experiencing. For me, that meant removing these large foreign bodies I had placed inside my body so that I could potentially heal.
My Advice For Women Who Are Considering Explant
Do all of the research.
Talk it out.
Ask questions in the implant illness groups. There are groups for Dr. Chun and Dr. Barnett in addition to the main group. There is also a group for ALCL.
I understand the panic you feel. You want them out NOW.
You only get one chance to do it right. You don’t want to have any regrets.
My Advice For Everyone
Love yourself. It’s not easy, but you gotta work on it. I am sorry that I had to go through two surgeries and all these health issues in order to figure that out, but I am grateful that I got here.
Appreciate everything that your body does for you. It is strong. It wants to heal. Give it what it needs to do that. Take care of it.
Cherish your health. Don’t do anything to endanger it.
TRUST YOUR GUT. EVEN WHEN THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU TELL YOU OTHERWISE. I have learned this one the hard way SO MANY TIMES in the past few years. The whole stalker situation and some other bad dating situations could have been avoided too if I had just trusted MYSELF instead of listening to advice from others. Why didn’t I trust myself to know what was right for me?
Important Explant Links
Breast Implant Illness Website: https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/
Dr. Barnett, located in Sarasota, Florida: https://drmbarnett.com/
Dr. Chun (California): http://www.myplasticsurgery.com/
Dr. Feng (Ohio) https://www.fengclinic.com/
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, medical professional, or scientist. This post or any related posts are not meant in any way, shape, or form to be taken as medical advice or used in place of proper medical advice or a proper medical diagnosis. I am merely telling my story the way that it happened to me and from my point of view. I am explaining my thought process behind why I got and why I eventually removed my breast implants. I suggest doing your own research on plastic surgery and breast implants.
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