Recovering from Breast Implant Illness

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.

Breast Implant Removal || Healing Breast Implant Illness || Life after Explant Surgery

The Explant

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.

The Report

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.

Breast Implant Removal || Healing Breast Implant Illness || BII || Life after Explant

If you have breast implants, yours are growing this meaty capsule around them too.

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.

Breast Implant Removal Surgery || Explant || Healing Breast Implant Illness || Life after Explant

The right implant looks mostly clear. The left is yellow and sticky indicating that the gel was bleeding out.

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.

Breast Implants at Explant || Healing Breast Implant Illness || Silicone Gel Bleed || Healing Breast Implant Illness

Note the stickiness as the surgeon skims the surface with finger and thumb. Lurking on the surface of those implants is the MRSA virus.

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)
  • Rashes/Hives*
  • 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.

Healing Breast Implant Illness | 6 months post breast implant removal

Picture proof positive that not only are my Littles adorable but I’m on the road to healing breast implant illness!

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,

Paula

You might also be interested in THREE YEARS LATER AFTER BREAST IMPLANTS


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Breast Implant Removal || Explant || Healing Breast Implant Illness || Life after breast implants || 6 months post breast implant removal

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 – www.dimplesonmywhat@gmail.com

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16 Comments

  1. Paula, I’m so happy to read that you’re on the road to recovery and that you have a people to help you. I’ve never had breast implants, but the thought of what they can do to your body is so very scary. I know that your posts are making an impact and making women take their health care seriously.

  2. WOw! What a journey. Thank you for sharing and being so transparent!

  3. /

    What an education for me and a Blessed journey for You. Before this post I knew diddly about Implants or explants and you made me do a re-read. My hope is that you completely heal quickly and continue to write. Thanks Bunches.
    http://www.madamtoomuch.com

  4. Corina
    /

    Great little read Paula! Thanks for always being so transparent with your oh so real yet funny life! I’m happy for you and your no regrets journey and i pray you continue to feel even better!

  5. Julie harris
    /

    I’m So happy You’re getting your health back! I also went through this journey! 8 mo ago I explanted..So Thankful for this 2nd chance at life..Sad Women are having to go through this!!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      It’s true Julie. It’s sad that women have to go through this. It’s strange, but for a lot of women, they have to go through this to be able to find true self-acceptance.

      Hugs & Healing!
      Paula

  6. Leanne
    /

    Hello Paula!
    I just came across your story after googling post-BII recovery care! I’m having my own implants removed in two weeks after having them for a little over 8 years. I had chosen to get implants at 19 for reconstructive purposes. Im 27 years old now!
    I cried while reading this and thinking about how I will be able to function so much closer to a *normal* human being after! Just reading about all the activity you found yourself able to do afterwards has me so hopeful!! Feeling like a much older woman for 8 years has taken such a toll on my personal and social life and I’m SO ready to change all that!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story and I hope your path to recovery continues down an amazing road!

  7. Jill
    /

    Would you happen to know the names of the cultures and pathology tests that were done on the implants and tissues?
    What’s crazy is the surgeon only requested a gross examination of both the implants and tissue. There weren’t any additional pathology test requested. I just wanted to be sure to request the correct ones. Thanks for your help

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I don’t remember what they were Jill. The pathology was only done on the capsules as that’s where the cancer risks lay. And the cultures were done with the fluids that were inside the capsule (in between the capsule and the implant) and the surface of the implants themselves. They do not open the implant itself. And I’m not sure if they are cultured for specifics but the surface of my implants was positive for MRSA.

      I hope that helps. If you are going to an approved surgeon. If you’re not a part of the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Healingbreastimplantillness/ I highly suggest it. There you will find resources and support, including lists of approved surgeons.

      All the best,
      Paula

  8. Monica
    /

    Wow some ladies have had it worse than me! Just had an explant about a week ago and what was immediate was the JOINT PAINS WERE GONE! My brain foggiest is going away, my energy is slowly coming back. I feel like me again!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I had the same with my joint pain Monica. I’m so glad you’re feeling like YOU again. It’s quite miraculous even if you only get better incrementally. 6 months after explant I went to my hormone practitioner and she couldn’t get over how much healthier I looked. It was that along with improved labs that made her a believer too.

      Big hugs!
      Paula

      I recently told someone that after I got the implants and those initial few days of feeling like I had to hold them or they would fall out 😊, I always said, “they feel like my boobs”. Then after I explanted, I knew how far that was from the truth. 🙃

  9. Marla
    /

    I tried to send an email but it came back to me. I’m a Breastie also. But I’m having a hard time getting my health back. And getting my weight off. :(. I did a replacement also. When I explanted the second pair one was ruptured. I have 2 of the mthfr genes. Hormones are trashed, adrenals too, stomach too. I dunno. Are you using a homeopathic doctor?

  10. R
    /

    Hello Paula, sending love from the UK. I explanted yesterday after so many unexplained symptoms, fill body hives whenever I got cold, brain fog, ringing in my ears, low libido, food Intolerances, fatigue (I’m 32 and have been very active my whole life and this really hit me hard) losing my hair puffy red face swollen glands so many things that when I write them down I get a lump in my throat trying to hold back tears.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for detailing the road to recovery you’ve been on. It gives me so much hope that I’ll feel like me again soon. Xx

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Hey R!

      Be patient with yourself. I too would get emotional in those early days. I would cry because of what I had done to myself in the name of “vanity” – for lack of a better word. I just told someone yesterday that I think it was somewhere between month 4 and 6 after explanting that I started to feel better. It was through the eyes of my hormone practitioner who was shocked at how much better I looked, that I realized, “hey, I feel better too!”

      You will get there. Be gentle with yourself and rest, rest, rest!

      Hugs,
      Paula

  11. Kristen
    /

    Hi Paula,

    I had a lot of the symptoms you talked about and even those crazy nose scabs, eww so glad they are gone. I am starting to feel better and love your advice to be easy on yourself! Thank you for sharing your story!

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