When I first came across the term breast implant illness back in March of 2017 and began to read about the onslaught of symptoms associated with breast implants, I was in awe and shock. At first, I felt relieved that I’d found the answer, my symptoms matched them perfectly. In the very same moment, I also felt devastated that I would need to remove my “breasts.” The silicone bags I had developed an unnatural attachment to, of which I falsely believed defined me as a feminine figure and woman. They had been my security blanket, something I had become accustomed to hiding my own body insecurities behind for years. I felt lost. Worried. Devastated and terrified. It may not sound rational but it was my reality and I clung to those breast implants for “dear life.” I fretted over how deformed and mutilated I might look. How would I ever be able to live with myself? How could I possibly avoid being deeply depressed looking at my scarred up and presumably horribly disfigured breasts? What if I went through this surgery and I didn’t recover in any way and looked disgusting on top of it all? I’d have given up my precious breast implants and still feel terrible and look like an ugly monster too. How SAD is it that I talked to myself this way?
Naturally, along the road to acceptance, I leapt to denial, searching for alternative explanations. Sadly, I was desperate to find anything that would mean I could keep my implants. Things like: Maybe not all women get sick. Perhaps this is a placebo effect. There could be other environmental factors, aging, genetics or hereditary conditions that might cause the same symptoms. Surely the regulatory bodies would not allow something unsafe to be marketed and inserted in the human body? Surgeons would not continue to advocate if they were unsafe? Right?
As ridiculous as it might sound to an outsider, my biggest fear when I first found out was not about my health, but how I would look and how I would feel about how I looked. How brainwashed was I that I had bought into the billions of marketing dollars that set an unrealistic, unhealthy and unattainable standard of what beauty is? But that was my truth at the time. It is also why I set out to disprove the idea that breast implants caused breast implant illness. When I began researching, I stuck to the material from regulatory bodies (FDA/Health Canada), research institutions, and the pharmaceutical companies themselves for my source material. I spent over 6 months pouring over thousands of pages and all I ended up doing was prove to myself that breast implant illness was not only plausible but highly likely to occur in most recipients at some point in time. Knowing the poor safety of the implant industry historically, plus learning about all the heavy metals that are actually in the implants was jaw dropping to say the least. I also learned the the same surgeons and regulatory bodies that stood behind the Dow Corning (1990s) and PIP (2010) impants that caused the deaths and chronic health problems of hundreds of thousands of women, still stand by impants today touting their safety, until the proof was in the carnage of debilitated women left over from their implants. I realized it was up to me to educate myself because no one else was going to. That knowledge sunk in and it was a hard pill to swallow at first. I cried. I worried. I stressed. I went back and forth in my head, but once I knew what I did, it just didn’t make any sense to go back to my naive state, my health, my life, my FAMILY depended on it. I couldn’t un-know what I did.
I still wondered what would happen if I didn’t improve? I could go through this surgery, look deformed and then not get better. It’s true. However, when I read what I did, I felt that, while it might not improve because of the damage already done by the heavy metal exposure over the 7 years + I had my implants, it could certainly get worse then it was and that was simply not an option on my table. My kids could be without a mom and my spouse without a wife if that happened. That was terrifying.
I am a fighter and I refuse to just sit back and be taken by denial. I knew the truth. I now understood how the years of exposure to the lead, mercury, arsenic, platinum, cadmium and countless other heavy metals had been poisoning me from the moment I had gotten them. My 60 symptoms matched perfectly with those attributed to known exposure to these elements. I shared a remarkably similar story to tens of thousands of women in a support Facebook group, Healing Breast Implant Illness by Nicole. I saw thousands of women begin to recover following explant. The truth is the truth, no matter how much you may want to deny it, eventually it tends to come on out.
I knew the journey would be a hard one when I finally determined I needed to schedule my explant. I consciously decided to shift my mindset and learn to accept me, love me. I decided ahead of time I’d love my boobs, no matter how they looked after. I would not let my implants steal another moment from me and that included after they were removed. I wouldn’t let it steal my happiness on top of my health. I would not let an industry define my self worth or beauty. I decided to take back that power and decide for myself. I started focusing on the healing I saw with women who had already explanting. Reciting positive affirmations and mantras and reading inspirational stories of people who have overcome tremendous difficulties in life such as the girl who was burned by acid and disfigured. I realized beauty standards can be defined as whatever we want them to be. We just have to own it and live it! So I decided to do just that. I’m not perfect, but I am perfectly me with my stretch marks, cellulite and floppy itty bitty wrinkled boobs with concave tops!
While all the fears and hesitations about explant initially focused on how my breasts would look after or how I’d be able to live with it, when I finally got to the day of explant surgery, I no longer “loved” or even liked my breast implants. I looked at them with disgust. They weren’t me. They had been a false sense of security for years. They had taken away my health, my appearance (for what it’s worth), my time, and my presence. I had gained nothing from them over the 7 years and 3 months that I had them and had lost an awful lot. The price was too high. There was no sense in mourning them anymore. I realized that my sense of beauty comes from within me, not anything or anyone else. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was happy to have them out, but I didn’t start it that way.
When I sat on the surgery bed in the operating room it was the first time in half a year I felt strangely at ease and peace. I was calm and happy to have reached that milestone. I remember looking around, taking a deep sigh of relief and smiling because I was ready to let go, to walk away and to begin my next chapter healing and learning to truly self love. I fell asleep moments later and then I woke up. It was done.
I felt lighter and better within hours and I continue to improve each week that goes by. I feel way better then I ever did in the year before my explant. It was the right decision for me, regardless of whether my health ever returns to what it was before I got breast implants. I knew the possibility of not getting better existed, after all, heavy metals like lead are known to have permanent adverse effects on the human body. But I sure didn’t want to get worse then I was. I decided before surgery I would embrace and love my boobies because they are me and mine and I am worthy of that love. So when I first saw them they were concave, a bit saggy and flopped like a normal natural boobies and my nipples even pointed more towards my face then straight ahead but I smiled with glee. They are mine and I love them. I will not ever let anyone make me feel like I am not beautiful, womanly or perfect just the way I am. I will love myself fiercely ALWAYS. I decide not anyone else.