Hi friends. Thank you for reading. I have put much thought into this post. I decided to have my breast implants removed because I believe they were causing my health to decline after having them for nearly 10 years.
I could have easily explanted and not told anyone but I believe this message will serve someone. My goal is not to freak anyone out, but simply to educate more people on what implants can do to you long term. I do not think that breast implants will make everyone ill but I personally know many who are. Many women will have an inflammatory/immune response due to putting implants in their bodies.
Having my own personal health scare this year, I cannot ignore this topic. There are some things in life you can't "unknow" and that's why I am sharing. If you believe you could be ill or experiencing unexplained symptoms, do your research on breast implant illness. After personally experiencing symptoms myself and having rounds of blood work done with no explanation of my illness, I decided to be an advocate for my own health and have them removed. Some women go through years of illness before explanting and I was just not willing to do that.
I hope this helps you or a loved one reclaim their health. Love, Kelsey
Click here to read my ONE YEAR POST SURGERY UPDATE.
Update 1) Prior to surgery
Update 2) Day of surgery
Update 3) 6 Days post surgery
Update 4) 8 Days Post Explant & Drainage Tube Removal
Update 5) Today is 5 Weeks Post Surgery - Back in the Gym!
A Brief History of Me with Implants:
I got breast implants in January 2008 in my late twenties, after years of "wishing" for bigger boobs. I was a "B" cup prior to implants. I didn't want anything huge, just a little more fullness. I have always had hips and felt that a slightly bigger bra cup size would make me look more in proportion. I saved up the cash and got saline implants. I loved them!
In 2010, I got into the fitness industry and almost everyone had implants. I fit right in. My husband and I decided to hire a nutritionist to take our fitness to the next level and I was able to get pretty lean through healthy eating. That's when I decided to compete in my first NPC bikini competition and won 3rd place.
I then started shooting with well known photographers and even got published in various fitness magazines. I loved my implants. I loved the way they looked in clothes and swimsuits. I even referred several friends to my plastic surgeon, I was so happy with the result.
I was so supportive of anyone's decision to get implants. At one point, I said they were the best thing I had done for myself aside from eating healthy and losing 50 pounds.
Breast Implant Illness:
In 2016, I started experiencing frequent sinus issues. I attributed it to going back to work in an office, my daughter starting daycare and us being exposed to more germs. However, after about eight doctor's visits over the course of the year, antibiotics and steroid prescriptions, I was OVER being sick. I pumped my body full of vitamins and figured it was "just stress" weakening my immune system. That's still a possibility but if your immune system is already compromised and busy fighting "something else" then you are likely to get sick more often.
Also in 2016, two friends of mine in the fitness industry had their breast implants removed due to illness. This was my first exposure to hearing about Breast Implant Illness (BII).
I talked with one of my friends on the phone about her explant and how she was feeling before and after. She is in her late twenties and should have been full of life and energy, yet her implants caused her extreme illness and fatigue. No doctor could identify what was wrong, until she finally went to a naturopath who talked about the possibility that implants could be the root cause.
As soon as my friend had the implants removed she started feeling better and has almost completely made a full recovery. After getting off the phone with her, I still didn't know the magnitude to which women were being affected.
This is a Problem
This was the first I had ever heard about implants making someone ill, so I decided to take a closer look. In addition to reading articles like those I listed at the bottom of the page, I discovered a Facebook group with thousands of women who were also ill. These women have issues anywhere from brain fog, skin rashes, reoccurring sinus infections, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, muscle aches, join pain and many more.
Reading their stories through Facebook posts and learning their symptoms startled me. The scariest part was this: most of them had been to many doctors and had gone through bloodwork and countless tests, just to find NOTHING. (Read more here about testing.)
Many of these ladies were reporting back that their doctors said they had "anxiety issues," "you're fine," "your blood work is perfect" and "you don't look sick."
I read these hundreds of posts and my heart just went out to these women. However, since I felt I was healthy for the most part, I couldn't help but go about my normal routine. But you can't "unknow" some things....it was in the back of my mind for 2016 and 2017.
Should I Explant?
A few months later, I started experiencing a nagging slight, throbbing pain in my left breast when I would sit at an incline. I first noticed it when I would lay on the couch at night with my family. I would re-adjust my position and the feeling would go away. It wasn't hurting much, it was just weird and uncomfortable.
I knew my implants were coming up on their 10 year anniversary in 2018 so I started talking to my husband about having them removed and NOT replacing them. I got my implants after we got married as a gift to myself and my husband said he would support me no matter what I decided.
We simply talked about it but didn't set a date for a surgery.
I had a mammogram this year (I'm 35) and everything looked fine. They said my implants were still intact, however, I was told that sometimes it's difficult to detect breast cancer with implants, depending on how the implant is placed. That started worrying me because my grandmother had breast cancer at one point in her lift and I don't want anything to get in the way of early detection.
I Got Sick
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area. I was extremely stressed about some family members living by the coast and we were monitoring the weather non-stop. It was then I noticed a swollen lymph node on the ride side of my neck, just above my collarbone. My stomach started feeling really nauseous as well. To make matters worse, no doctors were open due to the flooding, so I had to wait it out.
Once I was able to see a primary care doctor, I felt SO sick. I remember feeling so bad and laying on the exam table waiting to see my doctor. I felt so sick and fatigued that I just knew she would come in, examine me and send me to the hospital. That's how sick I felt. However, she prescribed an antibiotic for the lymph node and sent me away. I couldn't believe it.
I was weak, fatigued and extremely nauseated for a total of 12 days. After that 12 days, most of the nausea went away, but I still did not feel like myself. I went in for a second medical opinion and then a third. After two rounds of blood work, an ultrasound on my lymph node and over $1,000 later in medical bills, they still said, "You're fine. You are healthy. Your blood work is perfect. You don't look sick."
That was it for me. I remembered the posts by all those women on Facebook. My story was sounded so much like theirs. I was just not willing to wait a year or five...or ten and more testing to hear "You're fine."
"Surely it's not my implants," I thought. I love them and the way they look!
Ladies, when you feel the way I felt, your focus becomes entirely on your HEALTH, regardless of the outcome in the "looks" department.
That's when I started researching all of the symptoms associated with breast implant illness to educate myself.
I made a list of the symptoms I had and compared it. It was crazy! How long have these symptoms been sneaking up on me? It seems like such a gradual progression that I honestly don't know how long I have been not feeling great.
Headaches (2-3 per week for a year)
Dry scalp and face, random rashes on skin
Right eye twitching every day
Pain on left breast when sitting on incline
Shaking hands (hand tremors) - started a few weeks before I got really sick in August
Somewhat fatigued (thought it was just #momlife)
Sinus infections in 2016 (8-9 total)
Back & neck pain
Symptoms that started when I got really sick in August 2017:
Extreme fatigue (not able to get out of bed for 12 days)
Nausea (unable to eat much and dropped 8 pounds in 12 days)
Swollen lymph node on neck
Hot flashes (no fever)
Vertigo symptoms - dizziness and sinking feeling
I encourage you to look at the full list of symptoms and make yourself aware in case you or someone you know with implants experiences these.
I am grateful to my explant surgeon, Dr. Bruce Allen Rodgers in Katy, Texas. He made me feel completely comfortable with my decision and in my case, I did not need a "lift" when removing my implants. He agrees that some women do have an immune response to breast implants and encouraged me to share my journey through my blog. I am grateful to Dr. Rodgers for his kindness and listening to me and so many other women when we expressed concerns about our health with implants. He told me that he does more explants than breast augmentations and informs women considering implants that their health could be at risk. Not everyone will have symptoms or get sick, but it's important to educate yourself. I found Dr. Rodgers' information through the Breast Implant Illness Facebook group. He came highly recommended.
- There's a plastic surgeon in Dallas that ONLY does explants. Dr. Melmed stopped doing breast implants when he started meeting countless women who were sick. He saw many of them recover fully after explanting. Check out this video
- When I called around to schedule consults for explant, I was talking with a receptionist and explained my issues and she replied, "Honey, there are a lot of women who have been sicker than you and for much longer." I was shocked that she works for a plastic surgeon and admitted this on the phone.
- Silicone AND saline implants are causing women problems. Even saline implants are in a shell of silicone and that can break down in your body over time.
It's challenging to look at the face of a medical professional and have them tell you "you should be fine" when you know you don't feel like yourself.
After this "run in" with what I believe to be the first signs of BII, I decided to set the date for explanting. As I write this, it's actually just 3 weeks away.
It was one month ago that I started getting really sick and I still don't feel like myself. I have good days and other days I wake up with slight nausea, feeling dizzy and shaky. At this point, I am just working out when I feel good. I know that in a few weeks I will have these "bags" out of my chest and I will be able to have peace of mind that I have not done anything to poison my body.
Explant Support (Social Media):
If you believe you are sick due to breast implants, do your research on surgeons in your area who will do an explant. If you join this Facebook group, they will point you in the right direction. Another useful resource is this site dedicated to serving those with Breast Implant Illness.
If you do decide to explant, make sure you choose a surgeon who will remove the capsule that your body has formed around the implant over time. Read more about that here.
I know many people may read this and think "No way! There's no way I'm getting rid of my implants." I thought the same exact thing when I first heard about BII (Breast Implant Illness). It's easy to say that when you aren't sick. When I was sick, (had given the opportunity) I would have literally ripped my implants out right then and there if I would have known for sure they were the cause.
The more research I did, the more I came to realize it's only a matter of time before more warnings are placed around implants in your body. Will everyone get sick? No. Are some people more genetically susceptible to having problems and getting sick? I believe so.
But I don't want to risk getting another "fresh" set, knowing what I know now.
At this point in my life, I want to be the healthiest version of myself. I don't want my daughter to feel like she needs to alter her body because "mommy did it."
In my twenties, breast implants seemed like a good idea. When I got them, I knew I would have to probably get them redone in 10 years, but my, how fast time flies! 10 years is not a long time. Also, I don't want to spend $6,000 - 10,000 every 10 years for the rest of my life for surgeries and "boobs."
I will never forget the day I told my dad I was getting implants. He said, "honey, you should just stay the way God made you."
He was right. I should be deciding on whether to have another baby or not....not removing implants.
I would also like to add that we are all beautiful as we are. Our breast size does not define us. If you are looking for inspiration, there are many fit women on Instagram that I follow who do not have implants. Over the last year, I have gained so much confidence in my decision to explant just watching them accomplish goals and live a healthy and fit lifestyle.
I hope you'll join me on Instagram as I document my journey and regain my health and fitness post-surgery.
I will update this post as I heal from surgery. Thank you for reading.
12/14/17 - I am currently about 8 weeks post surgery and feel great. I haven't had any headaches or food sensitivities. I am cleared to work out and although I feel like I am starting completely over, I am excited and ready to get back at it. I have lots of energy and can pick up my daughter again, so that's a huge plus! I feel relieved and so empowered that I took control of my health. I actually feel leaner since surgery and love my natural look. Toward the end of the having my implants, they just felt like balloons on my chest. I wanted to get back to me again. My breasts look pretty close to how they did before getting implants. I have to massage them and the scar area daily and I'm using coconut oil to help reduce the scar. No regrets! I will update you all again soon.
Swollen lymph node
Dry skin and random rashes on my face.
No more implants for me!
Photos of my actual implants and capsule after removal.