Breast Implant Illness: A story of Healing
You can read my full post on breast implant illness here. The following is a story written by a dear friend that has been on this journey of healing from this illness. If you or someone you know is dealing with this, have hope! You CAN heal!
Breast Implant Illness: Is it real?
You all have heard the ads by now and you see the ever smiling ladies with ample bosoms enjoying life, usually in a field of gorgeous flowers, or a restaurant with many admirers around. It’s easy to get pulled into thinking breast implants will improve your overall quality of life, and for many, it does give a nice boost in confidence that might not have otherwise been there.
At the young age of 24 I felt I needed to change my appearance. It wasn’t enough that I was very slim, working out everyday, and feeling great, I wanted to have larger breasts to support the lingerie and bikini modeling I was involved in. I had many pressures from my agency and the photographers telling me that I would land more jobs if I had larger, firmer breasts…what? My agency offered to pay for the surgery so I felt it was a good idea to get the implants. I went to an amazing surgeon who transformed me from a size 34B to a 34D in a matter of a few hours.
The healing was rough, it was a very painful surgery and I couldn’t lift my arms above my head for about two weeks, let alone try and work out. I almost instantly regretting getting this done, but after the two weeks of pain, I started feeling better, and I looked incredible. The surgeon did phenomenal job, my breasts were larger, rounder, full and firm and all of a sudden I had this confidence I lacked prior to the surgery.
Fast forward two months: I had already booked several modeling jobs; a few were taking me to Europe to model in France for a new bikini line. This went on for 4 years, great jobs, great money; I was on top of the world.
Fast forward six years: The start of the storm. I started experiencing fatigue, which I suspect had been building since I started with breast implants and progressively became worse year after year. I was still working out hard, running 5 miles 6 days per week, weight lifting 3 times per week; I was very underweight with a chest that was not proportionate to my body. With each work out I experienced joint pain, extreme fatigue, starting with memory loss and brain fog. I was very nervous and had almost a slight shaking or tremor to my hands when I held them out straight. I didn’t think much of it; I thought maybe I was not getting enough rest between modeling, bar-tending and school. I was very busy and always on the go. This went on for 3 years, and at the end of the 5 years I was a 92 pound mess, with severe muscle atrophy and could barely get out of bed, let alone work out or work.
Fast forward to 33years old: Having lost weight, including muscle fatigue, having horrific chronic diarrhea, heart palpitations, bulging eyes, and thinning, brittle hair, my mom said it was beyond time to see doctor. I went to my primary who took one look at me and said “Oh Melanie, I am going to run tests
for Graves Disease. Your thyroid is large and your eyes are bulging”. Good call on his part, he saved my life. The lab was the next building over and thankfully it was close because walking sent me into air hunger crisis and extreme exhaustion.
I decided to take a week off of work to try and rest as my doctor
instructed. I had no idea how serious this was going to be until the results came back and I diagnosed with Graves Disease. My TSH was completely undetectable, they had to dilute the sample three times to get a reading of 0.001, my T3 was 2.5 times the normal upper limit and the T4 was the same. I started on the anti-thyroid med methimazole and in about two weeks really noticed a difference. My eyes calmed down significantly, and I started to regain some strength I had lost in my thigh muscles. I was also not
out of breath as much.
The prognosis for Graves Disease remission was not a good one. About 40% of people who stay on anti-thyroid meds in the US achieve remission, of that 40%, only about 5% stay in remission. The more I researched, the more I linked Graves Disease to diet, I was a huge lover of aspartame and artificial sweeteners, my lifestyle was very fast paced, my diet was all salads, diet soda and diet yogurt. I never once thought the implants could have any effect on my health. Not once.
It wasn’t until I saw a naturopath who was helping me with the Graves Disease, and asked if I had any other surgeries in my history, that I brought up the implants. He arched an eyebrow and asked how long ago, and if I had any subtle symptoms after the implants. I asked him to define what he meant by
“subtle symptoms” and he defined “fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, bowel changes, rashes, migraine headaches”. I’ll be, I had all of the symptoms and they started about two years after the implants. He smiled and said “I think the Graves Disease is a symptom of implant toxicity”.
Great! I asked “So if I remove the implants the Graves Disease will go away?” Sadly, no, if I had caught this years ago, yes, but at this point, the Graves Disease was very advanced that even the medications and diet changes were not helping. I had kicked the aspartame habit, included meat in my diet, and started eating all raw fruits and vegetables, with the exception of dark green leafy vegetables as they are high in cadmium, another risk for Graves Disease. I stayed on the anti-thyroid meds for 3 years, was able to significantly reduce them, but could not seem to get all of the way off of them.
I opted for surgery to have my thyroid removed. I also opted a few months later to have the breast implants removed. At this point I was 36. I would love to tell everyone that with the removal of the breast implants I had instant relief, but the recovery has not been easy, or quick. Today, I am 45 and
have been following Kristin for a couple of years, as I also majored in nutrition due to my own illness history, and I can say with her help, my own knowledge, I am feeling so much better.
It took me about two years to finally feel good again after the implant removal, and another 3 years to feel great. I had to tweak thyroid meds, and in the middle of all of this, gave birth to my now 5 year old son. I can say I have great energy to keep up with him! I am not saying that breast implants will definitely give you Graves Disease, or any other disease for that matter, but there are many who have suffered and fell ill after implant surgery.
Please see my list of symptoms below and please get checked if you have any of the following, as these symptoms have been associated with breast implants:
Fatigue or chronic fatigue
Cognitive Dysfunction (brain fog)
Muscle Pain and Weakness, Joint Pain
Hair Loss, Dry Skin and Hair
Weight Gain or Loss
Vision Disturbances (Including Dry Eyes)
Thyroid Problems (both Graves and Hashimotos Diseases)
Gastrointestinal Distress and Digestive Issues
Persistent Bacterial Infections and Slow Healing
Tinnitus (Ringing Ears)
Sudden Allergies and Food Intolerances
Leaky Gut, IBS, SIBO
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Symptoms or Diagnosis of Autoimmune Diseases