My One Year Post Explant Update
Can you remember what you were doing a year ago today? I sure do. I was bravely going under the knife to have my breast implants removed with Dr. Urzola in Costa Rica. And it was the best decision I’ve made yet with regards to my health.
It has taken me a LONG time to get better (from the time I started working on my health to now), but here I am, health restored. The list of symptoms I experienced after getting breast implants are as follows: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, feeling cold when everyone else was hot or comfortable, easy weight gain, brain fog, inability to focus on I was reading, feeling completely drained and unable to recover after exercise, dry skin, loss in sex drive, forgetfulness, night sweats, horrific insomnia, mind racing, perioral dermatitis, headaches, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivity, heart palpitations, spontaneous periods of tachycardia when at rest, and extreme anxiety to the point of not wanting to be in public. I couldn’t tolerate loud sounds or bright lights and being at work in a noisy environment with everyone chit-chatting around me was torture. I experienced chest tightness, shallow breathing, and a real fun one, mental awareness of every single breath I took. I began having menstrual periods that started out with vomiting, explosive diarrhea, and excruciating pain…all at the same time. I had to take oxycodone just to get relief. I was a mess. It was around the time of my menstrual cycle going haywire that I started having IBS symptoms: bloating, gas, frequent stools, loose stools, and PAIN every evening.
When I first began to develop vague symptoms in 2012, just 6 months after getting my breast implants placed, I had no idea what I was going to discover as I went down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out what was wrong with me. At the time I was not aware of Breast Implant Illness, but intuitively I wondered if they were the cause. I never found any information that pushed me to look further into this possibility, but I knew I had to dig deeper to find the root cause.
As I went through my training to become a holistic health practitioner, I ran a lot of lab work on myself and discovered I was dealing with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, SIBO, parasites, candida, gut dysbiosis, chronic Lyme Disease, HPA-Axis dysfunction, hormone imbalances, endometriosis, and food intolerances. I believed these discoveries were the cause for all of my symptoms and I went to work addressing them, one by one. I won’t go into full detail here, but you can read my complete breast implant illness story HERE.
I did get better as I worked on some of these issues, but there were just so many little things I couldn’t resolve. I was still having heart palpitations every minute of every day. I still had digestive issues, skin breakouts, perioral dermatitis, painful periods, mood, periods of anxiety and chest tightness, extreme chemical sensitivity, brain fog, forgetfulness, IBS, and was waking up 3-4 times a night to pee. My eyes would also tear for no apparent reason.
I knew all of these things were not normal. My biggest concern was the infertility I was experiencing. And that led me to wonder: if my breast implants were causing all of these problems for me, what kind of problems would they cause a baby growing inside me?…Or an infant drinking my breast milk with bags filled with toxins right behind them? I could never forgive myself if I caused any health challenges for an innocent child. Based on all of these things combined, I decided to get them out asap. My future and our children’s future depended on it.
It was a long road getting to a place where I could acknowledge that my breast implants were my problem. Admitting that this theory I had way back when I first started to get sick was true meant that I had done this to myself. It meant that I had wasted so much of our hard-earned money on something cosmetic so that I could again spend our hard-earned money on trying to get well for years, and now even more money to explant. AND I could have been my free-spirited self, healthy and enjoying life all this time the way I had prior to getting implants! So many tears wasted on something that could have been prevented in the first place if I had just been an informed consumer. So many arguments and so much heartache over the chronic illness I was dealing with. Why couldn’t I just have loved my body the way God designed it??? It was a hard pill to swallow and I know so many of you ladies can relate.
So fast forward to explant and this past year since surgery. I am doing very well. Recovery from explant surgery, for me, was uncomfortable, but manageable. I had liposuction with fat graft to the breasts at the same time, which I am very happy I did. Even though I didn’t retain much of the fat transfer, it made the cosmetic transition much easier.
Right away after explant, I noticed the brain fog had lifted! This was one of the most frustrating things to me and I’ve noticed it is incredibly common. I no longer get stuck mid-sentence trying to remember a word or someone’s name while someone blankly stares at me as if I’ve gone crazy. My skin improved within the first week with a brighter, less dull appearance. The perioral dermatitis I had for so dang long finally went away within about 3 months. My thyroid antibodies steadily declined over the next 9 months (spiking after my next surgery and coming down again). And I just felt happier, more energetic, and more vibrant! Fast forward to today, and all my symptoms have been resolved. The only time I have symptoms pop up are when I’m in my chelation cycle, which is normal.
How did I get here? Well, it was a bit of a bumpy road at times. There were of course some ups and downs along the way, but I knew going into this that healing is never a straight path. And sometimes (in my case) medical intervention is necessary to get from A to B.
I did address Lyme disease, parasites, candida, SIBO, and bacterial dysbiosis prior to explant, which I do not recommend. This is something that should be done AFTER explant for the best possible outcome. I did, however, work with another practitioner on this. I don’t believe in “treating” yourself. I think that is foolish. So for my own health, I looked to another holistic health colleague of mine to guide me through it. Did I already know how to address these conditions? Yes, but I wanted to take the second-guessing that we all do out of the equation. I wanted someone to lay out a plan for me for how we were going to tackle this and then just put my head down and grind it out.
After explant surgery, I used dry brushing daily before my shower to encourage good lymph flow, which helps get rid of waste in the body. The lymph is like a big trash can, and it needs to be moved or it will become stagnant, making you sick. There are some ladies who have silicone in their lymph and I believe dry brushing can be helpful for this as well. Cytodetox (just one part of my detox program that should absolutely NOT be used in isolation) has worked well for people with silicone toxicity as it is able to bind to silicone and escort it out of the body. There is no published research on this, just anecdotal evidence from various practitioners who use it with their patients. Due to the controversy around removing lymph nodes, this can be a good option for some.
I began to do some light workouts about 30 days after surgery. I typically focus on lifting weights and yoga as my forms of exercise. It was definitely a challenge to get back into yoga due to the loss in upper body strength during my recovery, but I eventually got back to where I had left off. At around the same time, I began to use my far infrared sauna daily, which not only helps with healing from surgery, but also with detox. I only recommend sauna use if you can tolerate it. It should make you feel better, not worse. I also want to emphasize the use of FAR Infrared sauna is superior for detox, while Near Infrared sauna is used mostly for wound healing and anti-aging. There really is very little research done on Near Infrared and there is a LOT of research supporting Far Infrared for detox. If you want to read about how to choose an infrared sauna, click HERE.
Although there are a lot of protocols available to women on different websites to help with healing after explant, I believe that the approach to healing should be individualized. We are all bio-individually unique and should be treated as such. What worked for me, may not work for you and vice versa. For example, I don’t believe every single person needs to be on anti-fungals or the candida diet. And doing the same generic anti-parasite protocol isn’t going to be successful for everyone either because different parasites respond to different botanicals. And parasites are likely not the only microbe you’re dealing with. Treating everyone the same way is like throwing shit (excuse the language) at a wall and seeing what sticks. It may work for some, but it won’t work for everyone. And it may or may not be what you need. My approach was about what I needed and I used functional lab work to discover what I needed.
I started my healing with a true detox program, one that I now use with all of the BII ladies I work with. It’s what gave me my life back and I’m happy that I get to share this program with anyone who wants to learn how to properly detox the body from toxins, heavy metals, and even silicone. This program does not come from an MLM or “distributorship” program and I would caution you against using such products. They are typically WAY overpriced due to the company having to pay the downline of people and the products are typically inferior quality to other options on the market. If something sounds too good to be true, it typically is. There is no panacea out there that’s going to fix all of your symptoms.
The program I used and now recommend was created by a doctor and can only be recommended by qualified practitioners. In fact, one of my former clients who is going through this detox (and happens to be a fellow nurse), was so impressed with it that she herself decided to make a career change and become a holistic health practitioner so that she can help people with chronic illness through this detox program as well. That speaks volumes about the work that I do with you ladies and the detox program itself.
In addition to my detox work, I focused on eating a plant-based diet that also included pasture-raised animal products. I have been avoiding gluten for 6 years and have continued to do so after explant. I avoided my food sensitivities that were found on lab testing for a period of time to reduce stress on my body. I focused on gut healing and I did use supplementation that I tolerated for that purpose. I don’t believe in “protocols”; you have to use what works for you. I won’t be going into detail about what I used for gut healing here because it shouldn’t be done without knowing if you have gut pathogens that need to be addressed first. Gut healing will never happen if there are pathogens. I don’t want you to waste your money if you haven’t discovered and addressed gut pathogens.
One thing to know about gut healing work is that with today’s exposures, it is never really over. We are constantly exposed to an onslaught of offending toxins and chemicals in our world today. Even if we eat the healthiest diet and use the most non-toxic products, we are still exposed to things outside of our control. It goes far beyond just diet and personal care/home cleaning products. So for that reason, I will always be working on at least maintaining my gut health through occasional supplementation.
Additionally, I focused on re-balancing my hormones and supporting my detox pathways. I am heterozygous for C677T, so I made sure I was taking a good quality multivitamin complex with methylated folate. All of my personal products and household products were already non-toxic or less toxic than conventional products so I didn’t need to make changes there, but that change certainly will help you’re ability to detox. Think of it as decreasing your body’s total daily toxic burden, thus increasing your capacity to deal with toxins in the body. MTHFR doesn’t have to ruin you, but sometimes it does mean taking your detox a bit slower. I talk about more ways you can support your body’s detox pathways HERE.
Let me preface this by saying that there are NO affiliate links anywhere in this post. These are just products I love and trust so I’m sharing them with you all. As a practitioner, I know that chronic stress (mental/emotional, physical, mechanical, or chemical) depletes nutrients, so in addition to my multivitamin complex, I made a SOLE with celtic sea salt and took about a tsp daily in divided doses along with my ReMag. I also included liposomal vitamin C in my routine, and still do. I believe these three things are essential for most people due to their depletion during chronic stress/chronic illness.
It has been a little less than a year since I started detox work and I’m still working on it. I plan on continuing for another year even though my symptoms are gone. The reason for this is that I continue to have some occasional detox symptoms (headache, low energy, skin breakouts) during my chelation cycles. This tells me that I still have some work to do despite feeling healthy again.
The detox program is 3 phases: Prep, Body, and Brain phases. It’s laid out way very purposefully, is well-planned, and has a lot of research behind it. I won’t go into detail about the detox in this post, but if you want to learn more about the detox program I used, click HERE. I will also be discussing the detox during a Facebook live in my private Facebook group TODAY (10/11/18) at 6:00pm PST. You can join my group HERE.
Unfortunately, for me, the healing journey didn’t stop at detoxification. The endometriosis that had developed after I got breast implants had gotten so bad (stage 4) that I needed surgery to excise it. My uterus was very inflamed and inhospitable and there was just no way I was going to get pregnant unless the lesions were removed. Because I found some research supporting the development of endometriosis in connection with toxicity, I had prayed that this would resolve itself after explant. It didn’t. Some things just need medical intervention. This was the last thing I wanted to do. I was happy to get my breast implants removed. THIS, I was NOT happy about. ANOTHER surgery. MORE antibiotics. MORE general anesthesia. MORE recovery time. But it needed to be done. I had tried every holistic/alternative/functional method you can find, but to no avail. This was the last piece of the puzzle for me.
The recovery from this surgery was much harder than my recovery from explant. It was about 3 months before I felt back to normal, minus the intensely painful periods. They used to be so bad I would have to cancel my work for 2-3 days and be bed-bound. This was no joke. I have experienced a lot of pain in my life, but this was like nothing else. If you had walked by my bedroom doorway, you would have thought I was in labor. My husband wanted to take me to the hospital several times. This was NEVER a problem before I had my implants.
Luckily, I had two excellent surgeons for my excision surgery and I’m happy to say that I’m recovered and finally moving forward without pain.
And now? I’m feeling better than I have in YEARS! I no longer have heart palpitations, anxiety, mood swings, digestive issues, chemical sensitivity, brain fog, forgetfulness, frequent urination, IBS, or Hashimoto’s! I have successfully reversed every single one of my symptoms. I finally feel like my free-spirited self again. And I now enjoy helping other ladies get to this place post-explant.
If you’re on the fence about getting your implants removed, know that if you have developed chronic symptoms of any kind since getting implants, you won’t be able to restore your health until this source of stress on the body has been removed. You can learn more about what breast implant illness is and why it happens HERE.
For those of you who have explanted and are on the healing roller coaster, just know that set backs are inevitable. Healing is never a straight path. There will be ups and downs and that is part of this process. Listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone. Don’t overdo it. If you have a set back, do yourself a favor and REST. And know that this too will pass.
One thing I found super helpful is regular detox baths with epsom salts and baking soda. I also did not work out if I didn’t have the energy. Give yourself some grace and room for growth. You’ll learn a lot about yourself during this process. And more importantly, HAVE FUN! Focusing on your symptoms too much can change you as a person. I’ve been there, and I can tell you, other people see it. Incorporating some fun into your life as you work on healing keeps your spirits up and brings happiness into the picture even if things aren’t perfect.
Be okay with where you’re at in the process. Be thankful for how far you’ve come. Express gratitude for the small things. Find greater meaning in your life beyond being sick. As hard as it is, be patient with your body and give it time. It took a long time for you to become this sick, it will take time to heal as well. Typically, I see women who explant and immediately feel almost 100% better (very rare), women who explant and feel quite a bit better for a few weeks to a few months and then have a huge set back (common), and women who feel a little bit better and gradually improve over time. I think a good assumption is that it is likely going to take 1-2 years on average to restore you health, shorter if you have help from an expert. If you are having lots of set backs, you’re likely going to need to look deeper at what else is going on, or minimally complete a true detox program. If you need help, you can always reach out to me. To read about all the things people do wrong in their detox journey, click HERE.
One book that I highly encourage everyone to read is “Daring To Hope”. I read this book while I was recovering in Costa Rica. This book brought tears to my eyes (in a good way) countless times and it reminded me to be grateful and to really be present in life, experiencing each moment as it happens. It encourages you to keep that slow burn of hope. It’s incredibly poetic. Here is an excerpt I found especially meaningful to give you a taste:
“Just one little bird. She’s up when the stillness of 5:30 am nudges me awake and I struggle to peel back heavy eyelids.
She’s up and she sings.
I wonder how she can even tell that it’s almost morning.
I walk quietly to the coffeepot and flick on just enough lights to read by so as to not wake my children.
Her song is shrill and bold. This is my quiet time, and I briefly wish that one little bird would be quiet.
As I sit down with my Bible, I think of my friends who have gone home to be with Jesus so recently.
I know where they are and that it is better, by far, than suffering and sickness. But still, I miss Betty’s smile as I wiped her forehead.
I miss Katherine’s laugh, loud and infectious. When I see her children smile, I see her, and I still wish the ending had been different.
I asked God Why? again and again. What could all this suffering possibly accomplish? Why would He allow us to love people so deeply?
A dear friend suggested, “Maybe because He knew you would.”
Could that be God’s answer to us as we walk the hard road? “I knew you would do it. I knew you would love them.”
And suddenly the hard road becomes not a burden but a place of great honor, a place of partnership and intimacy with Him.
We were allowed by our gracious and merciful Father to love these people, to give ourselves to something so grand as ushering His beautiful children back into His arms at heaven’s gate.
Then I think that maybe courage is not at all about the absence of fear but about obedience even when we are afraid.
Maybe courage is trusting when we don’t know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near.
He is the God Who Will Provide.
He will provide His presence, His strength, or what- ever He decides we most need.
Maybe bravery is just looking fear in the face and telling it that it does not win because we have known the Lord here. We have known the Lord in the long dark night.
The little bird sings loud in the early morning dark. And slowly, the sun peeks over the horizon.
Days later it is raining. The huge drops pelt our tin roof so hard that we can hardly hear ourselves talk, but as the rain slows, I make out a familiar noise and I laugh.
The same little bird that cannot contain her song too early in the morning is now singing through the rain. I wonder where she’s hiding and how she can keep singing in this storm. The rain slows to a trickle and the sun peeks from behind the clouds, and suddenly all I can hear is her glorious song.
And I want to be just like that little bird.
Hope is a crazy thing, a courageous thing. Faith is a bold, irrational choice. But that little bird—she feels the sun coming, knows with certainty that it will come, even when she can’t yet see it.
We live in a world where innocent people suffer and good friends die and stories don’t have the endings we pray for.
The pain and hurt are everywhere. But the joy and hope that we find in our Savior? They are everywhere too.
I do not have all the answers; actually, I don’t have many at all.
But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. In the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t.
Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us but, in fact, allows us to experience it in a whole new way.
God brings to mind Mary of Bethany, who chose the greater thing by putting aside her tasks to sit at Jesus’s feet.
I always resisted putting aside the daily rhythm and necessities of life to sit in His presence, but pain forced me into desperate hours at His feet.
While I cared for my friends in their sickness, I craved that middle-of-the-night time when I would sit on the floor of my bathroom, just me and God. Night after night I would sit and imagine myself, like Mary, washing His dusty feet with my tears. It was there I heard Him whisper, “Come.” And so I kept coming.
I think of a different conversation between Mary and Jesus, four days after her brother, Lazarus, died. She had called for Jesus days earlier. We read in John, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where he was two more days” (John 11:6). So. He loved them and so He didn’t move immediately.
“Lord,” Mary said, weeping, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
Her words echo my own: Where were You, Lord? Didn’t You hear that we had called for You?
And Jesus wept with Mary in her pain, even knowing that He would raise Lazarus to life again.
Jesus told His disciples that He was glad He was not there earlier so that they, too, could believe.
In my own life, He showed Himself to be a God who uses delay to grow my belief and strengthen my relationship with Him.
He loves me and SO He allows me to feel pain that draws me to Him.
And in the midst of the pain, He weeps with me for a world that is not as He intended, for sorrow that He did not design.
I can sing because I know what is coming.
I can hope because I know who is coming.
In the dark of the night, I have seen His face.
I want to be brave enough to hold out the hope of the Gospel to a world that is hurting and alone and afraid.
Not a hope rooted in the absence of pain or heartache or suffering.
Not optimism that looks for the best-case scenario or happy ending.
A true hope that rises from the full assurance that our Savior is on His way.
It’s not light yet, but I know Him, the One who is the Light.
And so in the dark, I will sing.”
Even if you’re not a believer, if you take anything from this excerpt: be courageous even in the face of fear; courage is trusting even when we don’t know what’s next; lean into the hard knowing that it will be hard; bravery is looking fear in the face and telling it that it does not win; be the little bird singing in the midst of the storm, knowing that the storm will pass and sunlight will come soon.
I feel blessed to have gone through this struggle and I thank God for it because of what it has brought me: A level of health that I had never reached previously, a level of emotional intimacy with my husband that I never knew was possible, a reliance on and closeness to God that surpasses anything I have ever known; and the experience and expertise to be able to help others who are struggling like I was. God pursued me in my struggle and pain. He drew me near to Him in my suffering and for that I am incredibly thankful.
If you’re still very sick post explant, you need to dig deeper to find the downstream effects of your breast implants. Breast implants cause an array of dysfunction in the body. It’s not always as simple as explanting and detoxing. For many women, there are pathogens (mold, lyme pathogens, SIBO, dysbiosis, parasites, worms, candida, reactivated viruses, etc) that need to be tested for and addressed the right way, adrenals and hormones need to be tested and supported properly, food sensitivities that need to be removed for a period of time and reintroduced systematically, and potentially other hidden stressors that haven’t been discovered yet. Having a practitioner to guide you through this process can mean the difference between healing and remaining sick. No one wants to go though explant just to remain sick.
If you’d like to have a discussion about our comprehensive BII healing program that also includes detox as part of the work, please schedule your Breakthrough call HERE.
Sarah has a passion for health that has taken her along a path from RN, to fitness enthusiast, to becoming a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner and True Cellular Detox™ Practitioner. She has a passion for breast implant illness and teaching her clients about restoring health through nutrition, lifestyle, and detox, and guiding them through the sea of mis-information in hopes of finding their path to vibrant health.
Sarah’s belief is that we should settle for nothing less than vibrant health! And with breast implant illness, detoxing after en bloc explant is a foundation for that. She focuses on healing the body naturally at the cellular level with whole(real) foods, lifestyle changes, detoxing, and addressing the downstream conditions caused by breast implants. She believes that alternative therapies can be just as effective, if not more so, than conventional medical treatments because we are seeking to heal the body rather than merely mute a symptom with a pill. Sarah is an advocate for natural living and doing what she can to keep toxins out of the home and environment. She is also very passionate about eating real foods as she feels it’s the key to keeping our health and the future health of our children. The thought of explant surgery and healing the body can be overwhelming, so she is here to guide you through the process. Sarah is super passionate about this work, as she truly believes there is a reason for her own struggles that is bigger than her. Sarah will show you how to reverse breast implant illness, take back your health, and live vibrantly!