This is my story on breast implant illness, and my breast implant removal + recovery journey.
Years of insecurity led me to making one of the biggest mistakes of my life, getting breast implants…
I want to take you back to my childhood. Looking back, I never had a problem with how I looked. At least not until I reached a certain age, that was around 10. When the girls I went to school with first started shaving their legs, wearing makeup and paying attention to what they looked like. They were really particular to dress in name brands. I was made fun of because I had high waters on, or I didn’t have the name brand clothing. My insecurity really started there.
It just became more and more and heavier and heavier. As we got into the years of puberty; I didn’t go through that whole process until I was 13, in the 8th grade. Most other girls had already been there, done that for a year or two.
I was always small chested, I was hopeful that I would eventually get boobs, but they never came. Aside from being pregnant, I have really never gained a lot of weight (that’s a whole other conversation).
Growing up, you’re pressured from other girls, and you’re also getting pressured from guys, and the media around you. In some cases, pressured from members of your own family to look a certain way.
It’s a lot of pressure. Being a teenager is hard. It weighs on you.
There are so many external opinions, and yet no one really gives you space to think for yourself. No one is stepping in to tell you that you’re beautiful just the way you are.
It’s important to understand the root of where my thoughts were and where my insecurity started so that you can understand why I made the decision.
There are many reasons why women choose to get breast implants, this is not to shame anyone for their decision.
I love the fact that we get a choice in what we put into our bodies, how we dress, and how we want to be portrayed.
For me, this decision was detrimental. I thought that getting breast implants would fill the hole in my insecurity; I would be able to feel sexy and feel womanly.
This is the insecurity that I was living in. I was drowning and I just thought that this was my solution.
Ironically enough, there was a contest that was ran in 2016 by one of the plastic surgery offices in my state, I entered it.
One of the requirements was, you had to send in a picture of your bare chest to them and basically have a consultation. I did that. About a week later, I found out that I had won the contest, which pushed me into “Oh, well, I have to do the surgery”.
At that time, the only thing that was holding me back was the financial situation.
Long story short, I had started a network marketing company, I no longer do this, I am not associated with the company, but I want you to understand where my finances came from. It just blew up. It was success. I never saw it coming. In fact, in 2016, I was actually sitting at my lowest of lows, I wasn’t in a good place.
So, when this contest popped up, I’m like, “absolutely, I’m gonna try that because I might actually win the contest, and I might get boobs for the first time in my life”. Lo and behold, I did, and because I was having such success with the network marketing company, I had a lot of money coming in…and it was “yeah, I’m doing this, I’m gonna schedule my surgery”, and I did.
I was also teaching kindergarten at the time, so I waited until school was out so that I could use the summer to recover and show off my boobs. Isn’t that crazy?
So, on May 19, 2017, I underwent a breast augmentation. They gave me for 15 cc’s of gummy bear implants. These are the exact implants that I got, and actually they were recalled for causing breast cancer in women (or a specific type of a breast cancer in women). I just went on my merry way and started to learn to live life with the implants.
Despite being terrified, I went through with it. I don’t remember much, I remember getting the IV sedation, and before I knew it, I was passed out, and then I was on the way home, and really about an hour from my house, which is insane. So, I don’t remember anything that happened before that, or during that time.
I do remember it being so painful. I remember it felt like there had been two bricks placed upon my chest. And it was harder to breathe. It felt so tight, it was uncomfortable. The implants were sitting way high up. They didn’t look natural, which is normal when you get a surgery like this. They have to eventually settle into their natural position, and they did eventually.
The first few months. I really didn’t notice anything, I recovered and moved on with my life; started teaching at a different school and went along my merry way, I finally had the boobs I always wanted. So, in my book, I thought I was winning; I didn’t notice a whole lot of problems until I actually started looking back.
Three months after I got my implants, on the first day of school, I was getting ready in my bathroom and all of a sudden, I remember feeling like oh my god, I’m about to hit the floor. It looked like the house had jumped in front of my eyes and everything looked tilted. What I didn’t realize was I had fainted and hit my head on the bathroom floor.
There was no explanation. I wasn’t sick. It didn’t ever happen again for several years, and I didn’t think anything about it. I just thought, “wow, I’m really nervous for the first day of school”.
Looking back, I realize that it absolutely was more than likely tied with the implants. The first year, I don’t remember anything, I was just excited to wear shirts that had cleavage, to wear swimsuits and I loved showing off my boobs (not in an inappropriate way, let me make that clear). Even at home with my husband, I was so excited to finally have these boobs. I thought, “it’s gonna solve all my problems, I’m never gonna feel insecure, my confidence is always going to be 100%, and we’re gonna have zero issues.
That was an expectation that the implants should have never been given to me, but I thought these were my ticket to a new life.
Lo and behold, they were not.
So as the years went on, different things, different symptoms, different side effects started to kick in.
That brings me to the present. I did a lot of research, looking back, I’ve had so many things happen. So, I’m gonna do my best to just explain what I dealt with on a daily basis, what things have happened sporadically (unexplained things), and how much testing that I have undergone before finally deciding, I think the implants need to go because I’m pretty sure that’s the problem.
I had first heard about breast implant illness between late 2019 and early 2020. So, right before the whole pandemic, and I really started doing my research, and I actually had plans to have them taken out a year ago. I just didn’t go through with it because of the COVID issue, and because I had COVID in October of 2020.
So I just decided I would wait, heal and then I’d look into it another time.
Here are some of the symptoms that I experienced on a daily basis:
I’ve undergone so many tests. I had to get a biopsy to check for cancer, I have swollen lymph nodes I’ve had to have looked at, and I have had it recommended to have an MRI for the last four years, which is the same amount of time that I have had my implants. It’s insane. I’ve gone to so many doctor visits, doctor offices, consultations, you name it, the testing, the blood work, I’ve done it all. It always came back normal.
I knew something was wrong, we all know our bodies best, and you just know when something isn’t right. So, at this point, and I have to be honest, at the time of this podcast episode, I will have days that go from a scale of 1 to 10. Most days I’m sitting in pain and exhausted and can barely function that’s a 10 all the way to a 1 which is when I feel normal, and ready to start the day, with no issues at all. I am typically scaling between 7 to 10.
And I just continue to think, I went through all this because I was so insecure that I thought two plastic toxic bags, once they were inside of me, once I had cleavage or had boobs, that was magically going to turn into some like amazing, sexy woman walking down the street with zero problems. That’s ridiculous. I know that.
When you are inside your head, and you’re dealing with insecurity, and someone hands you a solution, or says “hey, this is what’s going to be what fixes all of that”. Please note, the doctors never said any of that. When you’re desperate for a different way of life, to silence thoughts, whatever your thoughts may be, and something is presented to you, you’re likely to jump on that opportunity. You’re going to tell yourself whatever it takes to go through with it. That’s exactly what I did. \
I would say the number one thing I’m most looking forward to, is not having this sense of heaviness on my brain and my eyes. Like I said, it’s chronic. I’m constantly squinting because of how heavy the brain fog is, how heavy the memory loss is, how heavy this dark cloud is and how dry my eyes are. They’re irritated. They’re actually a little bit yellow.
I have seen a lot of women; they’ll take a before picture before surgery of their face in their eyes, and they’ll take one either like a few hours after surgery or the following morning, and it looks like they woke up and look completely different. Their eyes go white their skin gets real glowy and dewy and clear. And they look like they are awake for the first time and however long it’s been. That is my number one expectation. If nothing else from this, I really hope the brain fog is gone.
One thing that I forgot to mention in the storytelling to how I got here was what was it that actually made me call and schedule the breast implant removal. That’s really important to understand. Regardless of if you have implants or not or you know someone that does, I know some very dear people that are so close to me that have implants that deny that breast implant illness is even a thing. I want to argue that it is a real thing. There are way too many women with testimonies about this for this not to be a real thing. There are now doctors and plastic surgeons who are refusing to put implants into women’s bodies, and they are advocating on our behalf because of our stories, the science, from they’ve seen. They are now believers.
Now back to the night that I made my decision. It was my son’s birthday party, we had a big pool party, we had lots of family over, we did the gifts, the whole shebang. Everybody was starting to leave, but a few friends and family members were still mingling, chatting and staying with us. I remember I was gonna eat a cupcake, and I was taking the cupcake wrapper off of the cupcake and before I even had a chance to taste the cupcake, all of a sudden, this heart pain, chest pain, absolutely hit me out of nowhere. It was so severe; couldn’t stand up, I was almost about to crawl on the floor, and I remember grabbing my chest and grabbing my heart, it hurt so bad. Literally thought for two seconds that I was having a heart attack, convinced there was something wrong with me.
I couldn’t even hardly speak words out of my mouth, I hurt so bad. My breathing got really shallow, and I just couldn’t get the noise out. I knew I needed to tell my husband like, this hurts so bad, I didn’t know what to do.
This had happened to me before but not in this severity. Not this bad, and not this quick. Normally, it didn’t just hit me out of nowhere, I could kind of feel it coming. This time, it felt like it hit me out of nowhere.
I eventually slowly and hunched over, walk to the back door, walked all the way out to where our pool is and the chairs around the pool. To my husband talking with one of our friends, and I get out there and I sit down, I’m hunched forward and I’m barely getting the information out, I’m in a panic, I literally think like I’m going to die or I need to go to the ER, and I tell him this. He says, “you need to lay down, you need to give your body a chance to rest,” and he is certified in CPR and all of the good things because he is a first responder.
I had him like check me out and he’s said, “you’re fine, your heart rates fine”. He basically just gave me some instructions. I could not leave my bed until the next morning, couldn’t get up to use the bathroom. I had to eventually, force myself to calm down and get myself to go to sleep with the pain. Eventually when I woke up the pain was not there anymore.
The next morning, I woke up. It was a Sunday and I decided right then and there, I was going to call and schedule my explant surgery Monday morning.
I emailed the same surgery center I went to before and requested the dates, she told me she had two dates left one was for the year and one was for 2022. I told her that I wanted the December 15 date and then I paid that deposit as fast as I possibly could and secured my surgery date.
Now, I’m here: over $14,000 after both surgeries for something that has altered my life, something that has stolen my peace of mind, my health and my family time. I’m exhausted.
To say those words…
I have waited so long to be able to say these words. I’m happy to say that the explant was very successful.
I was so nervous for surgery, but also had a lot of peace going into it. I knew it was the right decision. We live about three hours away from the surgery center, so I did have too fast for half the day. When we got to the surgery center, I felt pretty peaceful on the drive over until I saw the surgery center and we pulled into the parking lot. From there, pretty much all the nerves broke loose.
I was trying so hard not to get sick to my stomach, all of those things, but I also was very, very ready to just get it over with. We went through all the pre op stuff, everything went great. Then, I went back with anesthesiologist, and she had her seven vials of all the things: the antibiotic, an allergy medicine, a narcotic (for me, valium), and some other stuff. I actually asked her if she would not give me the full dose of valium.
When I had the surgery to get the implants put in, them putting something in my IV and I just like completely knocked me out. This time, I remember even walking to the O.R., and then I don’t remember anything after that. I remember the anesthesiologist and my nurse chit chatting, and then I kind of pretty much fell asleep. I don’t remember until I was waking up in recovery, which is a big deal for me because when I was in recovery from getting the implants put in, I don’t remember anything. That tells me that I had a lot of medication flowing through my system and they might have given me a little too much anesthesia.
This time, I specifically told them my biggest ask is that I will somewhat remember waking up in recovery before I leave this building. I prayed about that for weeks upon weeks upon weeks, and I’m so thankful for that answered prayer.
Waking up, I remember what the nurse looked like, I remember her taking out my IV and getting me dressed and I just thank God for allowing me to have that moment. I was alert & the memories are still there, which is really important. I can still remember that moment today while I retell it to you. And that that was huge for me. I know it’s such a small thing. But for me, it just goes to show like 100% that my prayers were answered, even in that small moment.
The drive home was fine, I never got sick, they had prescribed me a patch to put on my ear in case I did get carsick, I never had to use it, thank goodness. I pretty much was just like napping on and off the rest of the way home. I would say, the pain at that point was pretty manageable. It wasn’t until the next day, where I think I had about a day and a half, maybe two days, where my pain it wasn’t, I never cried about it. It wasn’t so bad that I wanted to cry. But it was definitely like, oh, it hurts to move my fingers.
Other than that, it was not bad. I also want to report I did not take a single narcotic or pain pill that they sent me home with. I never took any. I’ve never even opened the pill bottles that they sent home with us. I specifically just stuck to Tylenol the first few days, and then a little bit of ibuprofen a few days later, when I knew it was safe to take that as well.
My pain wasn’t necessarily in my chest, or I didn’t really feel anything on the inside. It was because I had drains and it was the incision sites. So that was the worst part. I’m so thankful I only had to have those drains for like three days. And I barely had any output whatsoever with the drains. And I know they just did it as a precaution, because they kept telling me, “you’re not going to need drains, we very rarely give drains”. Lo and behold, if there’s gonna be one in a million, it’s me, so I did end up getting drains.
My recovery has been very smooth, except for I do want to mention this, I just think it’s important to like document it all. The first two days were nothing. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Pretty much, I lived on the couch and slept there. I think I slept on the couch for about three or four nights. And then I finally went back to my bed. I did a lot of TV watching a lot of napping in the first two days. I think a lot of that was just my body trying to get rid of the leftover anesthesia, all the medications, they gave me just all the things. So first two days were relatively really smooth.
My surgery was on a Wednesday, and by Saturday, my stomach was so bad. My daughter ended up contracting a stomach bug the day after my surgery, I don’t know if she left her germs here before she went to stay with my mother-in-law or what. We’ve narrowed it down to two things either A: I caught my daughter’s stomach bug or B: I got food poisoning from some soup that I ate. I couldn’t even drink water without getting super sick, and it lasted for 5 days. It could have just been the drugs, but I feel like that was way too long for those to affect me but hey, I’m not the expert here. I’m just relaying my experience.
Once I got past the week mark, my stomach started to settle down, I was able to digest food again. And I could start rebuilding a little bit of my strength by walking around a little bit more, but I definitely took it very easy because I did not want to give myself a setback.
In the first week, symptoms that I noticed disappeared:
I am still struggling with sleeping and getting a full night’s rest every single night. This is something that I have struggled with since high school and that this is from some trauma that I went through (I had someone break into my house and chase me down the hallway when I was 17).
I have a lot of trauma from that. Nighttime always seems to trigger my brain into extra paranoia. So, this is something I’ve dealt with forever. But I will say like the implant issue made it so much worse. I am getting better quality sleep; I just am still trying to get a full night’s sleep.
With the implants gone, I truly I got everything back: my health, my energy. I feel like I’m a better person. Okay,
The last thing I want to touch on is the hardest parts of the whole thing. Physically, I know it’s going to be ups and downs, physically, I feel so much better. Preparing for surgery, then getting surgery and then having to see my body in a new light has been very emotional. I knew it was going to be emotional, and I knew it was going to be a struggle.
It hasn’t been so bad, where I feel I’m paralyzed by the experience, and I don’t hate my body. It is taking an adjustment and I have to keep reminding myself where I’m rooted and seeing myself the way God sees me, the way my husband sees me, the way friends and family see me. It’s definitely been a healing journey for sure.
I had a lot of fears getting my breast implants removed, I was committed to the healing, so ready to get rid of them.
From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s not like I was gonna wake up the day after surgery and immediately love the new body that I’m in. Especially because after you have surgery you have to have someone take care of you; they’re doing the daily things that you normally do for yourself, it’s such a vulnerable state. While I love my husband, I adore him, and I’m so thankful and grateful that he did all that he did for me, it still made me feel weak. It made me feel disgusting.
I didn’t want him to see me without being covered up. It has been a mind game for sure. And I’m just thankful that three weeks out, I feel so much better. Week two threw me for a loop. I was so focused on healing, and taking it slow the first week that I didn’t have time to put into looking at me. It just took a toll.
Finally, I had to let it all out and have a conversation; I’m thankful for such a supportive spouse, family, and people who have checked in on me. I may truly never love my body, that really is not true, I do think that I am going to learn to love myself completely natural. I will learn that it truly is the inside and how you treat people, your character that matters more than your appearance.
All of that is in vain, right? Everything on the outside is truly in vain, and it does not matter. What DOES matter is what is on the inside This is going to be one of those journeys, where it’s gonna take me a little while. Like I said, I do not hate my body, I’m just learning. It’s like learning a little bit of a new person and learning how to manage it.
All this to say thank you. Thank you for giving me the space to tell my story, giving me the space to really be vulnerable. This has been a life changing, pivotal moment for sure. I hope that this encourages whoever needs to hear it. Above all else, I hope that you feel a little bit closer to me and my story. Maybe it’s not that you have breast implants or that you suffer from breast implant illness, but in some way, I know there’s at least one part of my story that we have a connection on.
I would love to see an email from you or have you pop over into my DMs on Instagram. I would love to connect with you. I’m so thankful for each one of you. This was not easy.
This is not a podcast episode I am necessarily excited to release to the world, it makes me nervous. I am called to share my story, though, and that’s what I have done & will continue to do.
I am wishing you the best 2022 here is to health, healing and recovery!
To stay up to date on my breast implant removal & recovery journey, tune into the Book More Clients Photography Podcast. I’ll be sharing more of my recovery updates & more of my story.