Six Months After Breast Implant Removal
What’s better? What’s Not?
It’s been six months since I had my silicone breast implants removed. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve started this update on the removal of my 17-year-old breast implants to let you know how I’m recovering from breast implant illness and the specifics of the actual operation. However, I’d get overwhelmed with the mass of information that I wanted to share with you, freeze up and stop writing. Today, I decided to suck it up and power through… though I should have taken more bathroom breaks. 😉 And did I just write through lunch?
While this post is long, I’ve tried to condense it as much as possible and give you a cliff-notes version. Only these cliff notes are cool because they contain photos. The explanted implant photos aren’t gross or anything though after my sister saw them, she said that she wouldn’t be eating hamburger meat for a while. 😉 They aren’t that bad but just wanted you to know they are in here.
A Belated Thank You Note
I cannot thank you all enough for being so wonderfully supportive and prayerful of me on this explant journey. Many women have reached out with their own stories and concerns of illness with breast implants. If you or someone you know has implants and is considering an explant, especially for health reasons, this post may be specifically for you. I’m going to tell you what I experienced in surgery and recovery. But most importantly I’ll share whether or not any of my symptoms of breast implant illness have improved and if it was all worth it.
Believe me when I tell you that although a breast implant removal with an extensive breast lift is not a small surgery, my fear of it was far worse than the actual procedure.
My surgeon, Dr. Brian Lee of Aspire Plastic Surgery in Fort Wayne, IN, does pain block injections in the chest cavity during the surgery performed under general anesthesia, so pain upon leaving the surgery center was minimal. He also instructed me how to alternate pain relievers with the muscle relaxers to stay on top of pain over the next week. Explant surgeons prescribe muscle relaxers because as the capsules are excised from the muscle, it can lead to muscle spasms in recovery.
I’m not ashamed to say that I was down with being drugged up even though I hate the feeling of being on any pain meds. It was important to me that I did not have too much pain and that I sleep as well as possible for the sake of healing. I only filled and consumed one of the two narcotic pain prescriptions which I spaced out over about a week.
I am most often sick after general anesthesia, so I am given medication to control nausea during and after surgery which makes me very sleepy. I was awake enough to get a coke and french fries from McDonald’s afterward but suffice it to say, I have no bright-eyed “I’m on the lighter side” photos as a lot of women who explant post. But I was pain-free, and I didn’t puke, so I’ll take that over a photo-op anytime.
Dr. Lee said that everything went very well with the exception that my incisions to remove the implants en bloc (in one piece and still surrounding the implant) had to be larger than usual to get them out intact. My implants weren’t that large so I’m not sure why this was the case. The incisions are commonly made in the breast crease and aren’t seen anyway.
However, because I was having my breasts lifted and I’m a larger woman with plenty of natural breast tissue, the lift incisions ended up extended under my arm more than I anticipated. As long as the scars play nice and lay down, I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not dancing on a pole or walking around scantily dressed, you know?
Photo Evidence – These Were In My Body?!?!
Once the implants are out they are placed on a tray and photos are taken of them encased in the capsule. They classified my capsular contracture as grade III on a scale of one to five.
The capsules are then removed from the implants, photographed and examined. The right side contained a whitish fluid between the implant and the capsule and according to Dr. Lee is typical of what they expect to see.
You can see, one of my implants is more yellow than the other and has a sticky texture on the external silicone shell. This phenomenon is known as gel bleed. The outer shell of the breast implant is not only disintegrating, but the silicone gel inside is “bleeding” out.
I elected to have cultures and pathology done on the capsules and the implants. The pathology report was clear of cancer (there is a risk of a specific cancer singular to the capsules), but mine showed chronic inflammation. I’m not sure why that surprised me. Scar tissue IS our body’s inflammatory response to trauma. Duh!
If anyone in the world will fall through the cracks, it’s me! Unfortunately, I had already been treating a nasty (Serratia marcescens) infection in my left breast with strong antibiotics when the results finally arrived showing that I had tested positive for MRSA on the surface of the implants. MRSA? YIKES! That was inside of me!!!!
Surgery & Recovery
My recovery from the explant surgery was most definitely a roller coaster ride, and I’ve learned it is quite common to be so. Have I ever mentioned, I don’t like roller coasters?
I cleaned my house before the operation and made a few freezer meals for after my sister went home. She came and stayed with me following the surgery for ten days. I honestly thought that I could get by without her, but she proved to be a godsend as The Hubs hours at work had increased drastically right around that time. She was making meals, doing laundry, monitoring my pain meds, helping me to bed every night, navigating the drains and most importantly, watching movies with me. She even climbed in the shower with me and washed my hair after my attempt (and lack of desire) didn’t meet her expectations. 😉 Hey, we slept in the same bed until I was in high school! There are some things only a sister or mother can do.
After my shower buddy went home, I was still not up to snuff and was tiring quickly. My daughter-in-law arranged to have some of my friends bring a few more meals. It’s hard to ask people to help you, and it’s harder to accept the help. But a word of advice if this is you too Proud-Mary: There are no brownie points for being a martyr. I was (and am) in a time of healing and accepting help and taking a break is all part of it.
If you follow me on social media, you already know of my ups and downs post explant. The many miles traveled back to the surgeon’s office to have the infection drained or biopsied or ultrasounded (I know that’s not a real word, but I like the way it fits). A hole opened up in the bottom of the infected breast and the infection fluid drained on its own for what seemed like forever.
Oh hey, maxi pads aren’t just for that time of the month ladies. They’re pretty handy as a leaky wound dressing, and they stick to the inside of a bra or tank top.
Breast Implant Illness Recovery Update
If you read my original post, posted on the day I explanted, you know of the two weird issues that led to the “Ah-ha, I might have breast implant illness” moment.
Remember those gross, bloody booger scabs in my nose? GONE, within two days after surgery! I’m serious! And they haven’t returned! I know, that’s a lot of explanation marks, but it’s an explant miracle too good not to SHOUT. 😉
As for my stiff, film covered hair, it’s near to its old luster. Or at least as healthy as it can be since I had it mega lightened to blend in the light bits while I’m growing out my naturally graying locks. Yeah, I decided to do ALL. THE. HARD. THINGS this year.
Here’s a list of other breast implant illness symptoms I have experienced, some I hadn’t connected to BII until after surgery and how they have or haven’t improved:
See an exhaustive list of BII symptoms here plus add bloody-booger syndrome.
Improved BII Symptoms
- Joint pain in hips and knees – 95% (almost immediately)
- Libido improved (after about five months)
- Fatigue – 60%
- Acid Reflux – 90%
- Sinus Infections (haven’t had one in 6 months)
- Memory Loss & Cognitive Function such as word recall – 60%
- Swollen Lymph Nodes (my neck doesn’t look as fat) 😉
- Inflammation (overall symptomatic improvement)
Uncertain BII Symptoms
(Because I haven’t retested levels or because we’re working on it)
- Hormonal imbalance (my body isn’t holding BHRT but currently trying new delivery method)
- Adrenal (Fatigue) Issues (Haven’t retested)
- Kidney Function (Haven’t retested)
* POST PUBLISHING HEALTH UPDATE *
Shortly after publishing this original post I had bloodwork to check my kidney function. For the last several years my creatinine/BUN numbers indicated that my kidneys were not functioning at capacity and we monitored closely every six months. Other than slight blood in my urine, I had no other symptoms of impairment, but diminished kidney function is not something you want to play around with. Isn’t that what happens when people start to die? They always say, “their kidneys are beginning to shut down”.
This was one of those symptoms that I would never have linked to BII had I not seen the proof. Only six months after explanting, my kidney numbers are back into normal range!!!!
I’m not sure why I was a bit shocked. But it proves to me (and maybe now to you) the heavy burden and toxicity implants put on our entire bodies. They can impair life sustaining functions in our bodies.
Unchanged BII Symptoms
- Sleep/Insomnia (possibly due to hormonal imbalance)
- Weight Gain (still hoping it’s hormonal and I’ll wake up skinny one day.) 😉 However, I feel less “puffy” and like to think I might be thinning out.
*I had hoped the random hives I have experienced over the last 15 years were due to BII and I’m still not convinced they aren’t. However, although not the full body rash I’m accustomed to, I recently broke out in hives following a trip to an Italian restaurant where I consumed large quantities of yummy bread. I had been mostly avoiding enriched flour after finding out I had the MTHFR gene mutation that makes my body much less able to process the synthetic folate enrichment in regular flour products. So, the jury is still out on this one.
I’m Still Standing
The photo above may not initially make sense in a post about recovering from Breast Implant Illness. These are five of our six grandsons (ages 2 through 8), and I snapped this pic at a recent sleepover at our house. My daughter-in-law thought I was taking crazy pills, but it was MY choice to have all five spend the night! I could not have done this a year ago. I would have been in a teary panic just thinking about it.
My hip and back joints would have hurt so badly after the level of physical energy I expended that weekend, and I would have had trouble walking for the next day or so. My bounce-back time would have been longer as well.
However, not only could I walk the day after they went home, but I packed up and drove 4 ½ hours to my other sister’s house to help with some decorating projects. That trip included hours on my feet shopping and more hours standing hunched over staining old grout and repainting her dining table and four chairs. Another 4 ½ hour’s home and as Johnny sings in “SING” which I may have seen a time or 20, I’m STILL standing!!!!
The Big Questions
Do I still have a journey ahead of me to fully detox from 17 years of toxic chemical exposure inside my body? Yes. It can take up to a month per year you’ve had the implants to recover fully. I’ve chosen to detox gently and through natural food and lifestyle changes. I’ll be ebbing and flowing my way to health for a while now.
Was expensive explant surgery, gnarly recovery, new scars and smaller boobs worth it to me? A thousand times, YES!
I’m not a superwoman. I am 53 years old after all. I’m tired after tackling all of that in a relatively short amount of time. But that sleepover proved to be an unexpected ah-ha moment that showed me that I’m definitely on the road to recovery. I made a right decision to explant. I’m able to do more things and am looking forward to things that I haven’t wanted to do in a long time.
Imagine The Hubs surprise when he got a text from me saying, “Mama’s libido is back. Get home soon!”. I’m guessing that even though the big boobs are history, our bank account is lighter and he’s canoodling with Frankenboob; it might have been worth it to him too. 😉
Your Breast Friend,
You might also be interested in THREE YEARS LATER AFTER BREAST IMPLANTS
If you have more questions and you’d prefer not ask on this public forum or you would just like moral support, please feel free to contact me via direct message on my social media channels or directly through email – [email protected]
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