My Breast Implants Were Killing Me!
I was once quite happy and comfortable living the conventional life, but I began to look at things very differently when my body started failing me after getting breast implants and I had to take on the battle of figuring out what the heck was going on!
A little background: I was REALLY into fitness; some might even say “obsessed”. It started with P90x, which lead into straight up body building. I hired a trainer who solely worked with bikini competitors to help me get into the best shape of my life at 30. I didn’t want to compete; I just wanted “the look”, and with that came my push for breast implants.
I had always wanted bigger breast, since I was very young. I even remember stuffing my bra in the 6th grade…I wasn’t fooling anyone. I can actually pinpoint the exact moment in my young life when breasts became important to me. My sweet and loving grandmother unintentionally planted this seed when she said: “you’re going to be 4ft 11in like me, but don’t worry, you’ll have the ‘Johnson boobs’”. It was this pivotal moment that changed everything regarding body-image for me. Big breasts became important. This is what women were supposed to look like and what men wanted and found sexy. This memory drove my desire, but it was my newfound fitness lifestyle that finally lead to making the big decision to get the breasts that I thought I needed in order to feel beautiful and worthy.
Within about six months of getting breast implants, I began to see my once “perfect health” (I say “perfect” because I had a terrible diet, but zero symptoms of any kind) steadily decline. I began to experience fatigue, irritability, anxiety, feeling cold when no one else was, easy weight gain, brain fog, inability to focus on I was reading, severe fatigue and irritability after exercise, dry skin, loss in sex drive, and forgetfulness. At the time I worked night shift as a nurse at a busy hospital and for some time thought: “if I can just get on a day shift, I will feel better”. I would literally come home after working a few nights in a row, sleep until about 5, wake up for a few hours, then fall back asleep for the night. This was routine. I knew something was wrong because I was no longer myself.
As time passed symptoms worsened. I began experiencing night sweats, horrific insomnia, mind racing, perioral dermatitis, headaches, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivity, heart palpitations, periods of tachycardia when at rest, and extreme anxiety to the point of not wanting to be in public. I couldn’t stand 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. Now for those of you who don’t know, breathing is part of your autonomic nervous system. It just happens automatically, and you are not supposed to be aware of it.
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. This led to planning my work schedule around my menstrual cycle. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I was a mess and I felt completely alone. No one understood what I was going through because on the outside I looked fine.
Beyond what I was personally going through, this struggle put a huge strain on my marriage as well. It’s so hard to cope with a spouse who suddenly from what seems like out of nowhere becomes this sick. I am very blessed to have a loving and supportive husband, but it was still a strain on our relationship. How we feel tends to come out in how we treat others. There were times I was just not a nice person to be around. Period.
From here, I started having IBS symptoms: bloating, gas, frequent stools, loose stools, and PAIN every evening. I felt my best after going to the bathroom in the morning and worse as the day went on and ate more food. It was to the point of not wanting to do anything social because I was so uncomfortable. All I could do was lay in bed and wait until the next morning when I felt a little better again.
Living in my body was so uncomfortable that there were times I literally just wanted to jump outside of my skin and hide under a rock. I could no longer work out because lifting weights left me feeling weak and irritable. The stress of it felt like too much to handle…and it was. I could no longer tolerate any kind of conflict. The stress made me feel like I might explode. The discomfort was maddening. I started to wonder if I was just going to have to learn to live with all the symptoms. I’m pretty sure everyone I knew thought I was crazy.
I began looking for answers as to why I suddenly began losing my health. I saw many doctors, none of which took me seriously. I often left doctor’s appointments with the “your lab work looks fine” conclusion and a recommendation to seek counseling and spice up my sex life. Insert eye roll emoji here.
I would soon realize that I was looking in the wrong places, for the wrong things. If I wanted to fix my broken body, I had to stop looking for a treatment for my symptoms; I had to start looking for a cause. I began to recognize that figuring this thing out was going to be up to me. It was time to take my health into my own hands and find real answers.
There is always a greater purpose within our struggles, and I believe that purpose for me was to learn how to heal my own body so I could then help others just like me do the same. So I did some functional lab work and discovered I had what we used to call “stage 3 adrenal fatigue”, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), gut dysbiosis, parasites, hormonal imbalance, and lots of inflammation to go along with my improperly functioning thyroid and immune system. On top of that I discovered I had Chronic Lyme Disease and neurotransmitter imbalances. No wonder I felt like crap! We did treat the SIBO with 2 month-long rounds of Rifaximin and I made huge dietary changes, but was still in pain. There was more going on inside my body than I realized.
I took this as an opportunity to learn all I could about how what we eat, what we put on our bodies, what we use in our homes, and how we think affects us. I learned how to be a health detective and search for the underlying causes contributing to my symptoms and how to address them in order to get on a path to healing.
While making drastic diet/lifestyle changes and addressing all the hidden stressors I discovered on lab work and, I did see some improvement, but there was a still missing puzzle piece and deep down I knew it. It was about this time when my functional health mentor suggested to me that my breast implants might be the blocking factor in my healing journey, and recommended I get them removed asap.
This possibility had crossed my mind before and I discovered Dr. Susan Kolb’s book “The Naked Truth about Implants”. I was convinced that this was probably why I developed all this chronic illness. I didn’t just get chronic Lyme Disease one day. I had likely been exposed a long time ago and my immune system was no longer able to keep the pathogens that cause Lyme Disease in check.
Despite the fact that as a practitioner, I could certainly understand how a foreign object could potentially impact health, I wasn’t ready to make that decision yet. I was going to give it all I had in order to avoid having to get them out. After all, I had wanted them for so long! And I spent all that money! This is what I told myself.
So, I appropriately addressed the Lyme, neurotransmitter imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, as well as gut pathogens like citrobacter, yeast, and parasites over the next 6 months as I also worked on gut healing. I began regaining my health, sharing my story, and helping others do the same, arming them with the knowledge and skills they need regain their health. Many of my symptoms had either disappeared or greatly improved. I considered myself to be a work in progress, but was leaps and bounds from the debilitating state I was in. I was about 50% better.
I unfortunately went on with life for another 2 years before finally deciding to explant. Though I felt much better, I still had some lingering symptoms. My menstrual cycle started to become very abnormal and periods were still quite painful. It still had IBS symptoms, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Perhaps the most devastating thing of all that I was still struggling with was infertility.
After 6 months of being unsuccessful at conceiving, I began doing some lab work. Hormones and general lab work appeared normal on paper. Long story short, I eventually discovered I had stage 4 endometriosis with bowel involvement. One of my ovaries and fallopian tubes were completely destroyed.
So, here I am faced with a decision. Do I get a laparoscopy and risk all the complications? I have very little faith in conventional medicine at this point, unless it’s needed to save my life.
Meanwhile, the implants were constantly in the back of my mind. I prayed about it often. I was afraid at when his reaction would be, not because of losing my implants, but because of the financial sacrifice we would need to make for my health after already investing 10’s of thousands of dollars so far. I made subtle suggestions to him with regards to getting them out in order to prepare him mentally for the day when I decided to do it.
I went back and forth about it in my head a lot. At the end of the day I kept thinking: “what if this is preventing my body from completely healing and getting pregnant?” And “what if I have a child with developmental or other health complications?” I would never be able to forgive myself because I would always wonder if it was the toxic implants inside my body. This is what ultimately drove my decision to explant. It was no longer just about me and my own health. Now it was about our ability to conceive and the health of our future children.
I had been doing a lot of research on BII and surgeons within the past 2 years. I knew Dr. Urzola in Costa Rica was the right surgeon for me and I am a strong believer in going to the best specialist for what you need, wherever that may be. We scheduled my surgery with him, and had my breast implants removed October 11th, 2017, exactly 6 years after I had them placed.
I feel very good about my decision and I am very happy with my results. Dr. Urzola is very kind and compassionate and makes every effort to give you the best outcome possible. My implants were 350cc silicone, sub-pectoral. He did an enbloc resection with liposuction and fat transfer (240cc each side), no lift. I don’t believe I retained any of my fat transfer (speaking now at the 2 year post-explant mark). Regardless, I’m very happy with the outcome and results. My skin has tightened up nicely and I have found a new love for my small breasts. Now I even wonder what I was thinking getting those ridiculous-looking things in the first place.
After surgery, my friends and family said they could already see a difference in me. They said I seemed softer/more relaxed, yet energetic, mentally sharper, happier, and brighter! It was about a month before I started feeling recovered from surgery, but I knew the work wasn’t finished yet. There is still a lot of work to be done to get the body back in balance.
I’ve put a lot of effort into nutrition, healing dietary strategies, cellular detoxification, addressing infections, restoring my immune system, reducing stress, mindset work, and healing emotional wounds from the past. I’ve been able to reverse Hashimoto’s!
The other blessing that came from this experience was what transpired between my husband and I while at Costa Rica. We had two nights before my surgery together, much of which was spent connecting on a mental/emotional level over everything we had gone through in the past 6 years. It was all culminating to this one moment, of which relief was what we were anticipating. All the stress, all the emotion, was coming to a head as we did what God was leading us to do. We connected on a completely different level than ever before and I left Costa Rica feeling more hopeful, more loved, and more cherished than ever.
My point in sharing this and the rest of my story for that matter is that 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 realized, a level of emotional intimacy that I didn’t know was possible, and the experience and expertise to be able to help others who are struggling like I was. God pursued me in my pain, and for that I am thankful.
Unfortunately, for me, the healing journey didn’t end here. 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 inflamed and inhospitable and there was just no way I was going to get pregnant unless the lesions were removed. Some things just need medical intervention. At this point, body parts had to be removed to keep this disease from spreading even further.
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 tried every holistic/alternative/functional method you can find, but to no avail. This was the final piece of the puzzle for me. 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.
So what do you do if you are suffering with Breast Implant Illness, have gone through en block explant surgery and are still sick? There is a lot of information already out there about Breast Implant Illness, what it is, why it happens, and even things you can do to restore your health after explant. But what if learning all you can and going it alone fails? If I hadn’t addressed many of my health issues prior to implant, I would have been addressing them after. You have to address the downstream effects of having implants. Breast implants are endocrine disruptors and immune system disregulators that cause a state of metabolic chaos in which every system of the body begins to break down, resulting in symptoms. Given my experience and hearing countless people’s experiences in trying to heal their bodies alone, I always advise working with a holistic health expert who has experience in dealing with the aftermath. After-all, Sir William Osler said, “a physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient”, and I believe this to be true for anyone, doctor or not.
I believe our bodies were designed perfectly. The body, when given what it needs, and removing causal factors, has an innate intelligence to heal and return to a state of ease rather than dis-ease. If the causal factor (or root cause) of your chronic illness is your breast implants, then removing them and then addressing the downstream damage that has occurred while also giving your body the nutritional support it needs will resolve your symptoms and restore your health. Addressing the downstream damage means doing some functional lab work to discover what needs repairing. Since implants affect the immune system, it is important to look closely at the gut for pathogens that have been allowed to overgrow. While looking for pathogens, we also want to look at the integrity of the gut lining, the ability to produce digestive enzymes, and how much inflammation is in the gut. Since we are on the topic of the immune system and pathogens, we also want to screen for and possibly test for the pathogens that cause Lyme Disease, mold toxicity, and viruses like Epstein Barr, HSV, and Cytomegalovirus among others. Looking at hormones by doing a hormone panel called the DUTCH is, in my opinion, the best way to assess hormone imbalances and also tells us about methylation status, nutritional deficiencies, oxidative stress in the body, and neurotransmitters, all of which are affected by breast implants. The HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) is a great way to test for heavy metal toxicities and mineral imbalances and a good detox program while supporting methylation is always imperative to restoring health after explant. Healing is not only going to include detoxing your body at the cellular level, but also detoxing your lifestyle. Chemicals in everything we are exposed to on a daily basis combined with heavy metals from implants and all the toxic waste produced by pathogens, creates a cumulative effect in the body.
Assessing all of these systems while also supporting the body with good nutrition is imperative. Nutrition is key in healing the body, but what is considered good for me might not be good for you. We are all unique individuals and should be treated as such. Because food sensitivities are likely a problem for those with Breast Implant Illness, I like to use food sensitivity testing to create a customized nutrition plan for healing. Then, of course, we need good quality sleep, hydration, and an appropriate type and amount of exercise to heal. The important thing to remember is our unique biochemistry. Working with a knowledgeable practitioner who can give you a non-cookie cutter approach that is tailored to your specific needs will get you well on your way to healing.
Looking for real answers to why you are still suffering?
Sarah has a passion for restoring health that has taken her along a path from RN, to fitness enthusiast, to becoming a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, True Cellular Detox™ Practitioner, and Metabolic Healing Practitioner. She has a passion for learning and then teaching her clients about health through nutrition and lifestyle, 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 detoxing after en block 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 diet and lifestyle changes can be overwhelming, so she is here to guide you through it. 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!