- At an FDA hearing on the safety of breast implants, women who have implants, and those who got them removed, shared testimonies about the side effects they faced after surgery.
- Many of the women talked about the combination of symptoms they had, like nausea, vomiting, constant fatigue, and inflammation, referring to the sickness as “breast implant illness.”
- Breast implant illness isn’t recognised by the medical community, but women continue to share their stories on social media in hopes of finding others like them.
- Five women in a breast implant illness support group on Facebook shared their stories with INSIDER.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
For years, women have complained about the symptoms they have dealt with after getting breast implants, like rashes, low energy, inflammation, vision problems, and decreased libidos.
The harsh reality of their experiences culminated in March when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a hearing about the safety of breast implants. At the hearing, women who currently have breast implants and those who previously had the devices shared testimonies about the aforementioned side effects they faced after getting plastic surgery.
Many of the women referred to their various symptoms as “breast implant illness.” Breast implant illness isn’t a disease recognised by the medical community, there is no diagnostic test for it, and many plastic surgeons deny the illness exists, but women continue to share their stories on social media in hopes of finding others like them and getting the recognition and help they need.
One of the most popular social media outlets is the Facebook group Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole, which has over 79,000 members. In the group, women talk about their symptoms, plans to remove their implants, and for those who have had their implants removed, the ways it’s changed their lives.
These are the stories of five women in the group.
Lonna Edwards had her breast implants removed in February. During her testimony at the FDA hearing, she said that for 11 of the 13 years she lived with the saline implants inside her, she felt ill.
“I am 100% failed by a totally botched approval system for medical devices and blatant lack of manufacturer tracking and failures in event reporting,” Edwards said in her testimony. “As a result, I have endured a profound and unforgivable loss of meaningful life.”
For 10 years, she had ongoing flu symptoms, but every time a doctor would test her for the flu it would come back negative. Edwards also experienced recurrent sinus infections, migraines, tingling sensations, and vertigo.
The numb feeling in her neck and right shoulder didn’t go away after Edwards got her implants removed, but the slurred speech and tremors she experienced have disappeared.
Racheal Blaze had Allergan saline implants, the same type of implant linked to ALCL, for 12 years. In February, she had them removed, and noticed her many symptoms start to subside.
“I was severely sick for eight years and almost died twice,” Blaze told INSIDER.
Her symptoms included blurred vision, hair loss, chronic infections, constant muscle aches, strokes, lesions, and full-body rashes. In total, Blaze said she had about 60 symptoms that affected her health.
“I’m back to being a mum, girlfriend, friend, family member, and a huge advocate,” she said. Blaze is also helping to plan a “boob march” in the Chicago area, where she lives. The event is meant to bring women who have experienced breast implant illness together to raise awareness about the dangers of implants.
Michelle Rendon had her breast implants removed in October 2018 after seeing 11 different specialists over the years for various health issues. Before her removal procedure, she was in constant pain.
“I was 28 years old and had a pill box with more prescriptions than most grandmas,” Rendon said.
In 2016, she could hardly get out of bed and had to stay in the dark to prevent debilitating headaches. Rendon said she could only be on her feet for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, limped whenever she walked, and had zero appetite.
She recalled a time when her hospital bills were more than her rent, even with the help of insurance.
“My quality of life was zero, and I continuously wondered how I’d ever keep finding the will to go on that way.,” she said. Now that Rendon has had her implants removed, she can walk up to three miles at a time.
Brooke Atkinson decided to get implants after having three children. “I felt this was a gift to myself for all the hard work I had put into getting healthy and super in shape. Little did I know that I had just made one of the worst decisions of my life,” she said.
After getting implants, she noticed her health began to decline. She gained weight despite working out and eating less than 1200 calories daily (experts generally recommend people eat 1200 calories per day at a minimum).
Doctors ran tests, but couldn’t pinpoint the cause of her sudden weight gain, which in the end totaled 60 pounds. She also had inflammation all over her body, vision problems, early menopause, rashes, and ear ringing.
It wasn’t until Atkinson saw women testifying in the March FDA hearings that she realised her symptoms could be due to her breast implants. In April, she had them removed.
Atkinson had her explant surgery – the procedure used to take breast implants out of the body – just a few weeks ago, but already notices positive health changes. “The inflammation in my face went away immediately,” she said.
Christin Quiette had her implants removed in 2017. Before that, she couldn’t muster enough energy to get out of bed. She thought she was dying from a mysterious illness.
“I actually wrote letters to my girls and made a will because I thought I was dying and didn’t know why. I just knew I was going to die,” Quiette said.
She saw lots of doctors, including neurologists and endocrinologists, but no one could diagnose her. At one point, Quiette was told she had symptoms of Hashimoto’s, a type of thyroid disease, but that diagnosis has proven false.
“My anxiety, rage, and depression skyrocketed these last four years. After explant that changed,” she said. Quiette also said her sex drive, energy levels, and back pain have all improved since having her implants removed.
- Read more:
- A woman had a celebratory photo shoot with her just-removed implants after years of ‘breast implant illness’
- Photos show the astonishing reality of what breast implants look like after they have been removed from the body
- The 10 most popular cosmetic procedures in the US reveal our obsession with breast implants and Botox
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