My Breast Implant and Explant Journey
Part of embracing my whole self and practicing self-acceptance includes body consciousness and awareness.
At the core of embodying my whole self is authenticity, which is about showing up honestly, and vulnerably.
Beginning at age 13, I was very focused on what I was eating (or not eating,) and constantly kept food logs, monitoring calories, etc. One of my biggest insecurities was the size of my chest. I kept waiting and waiting for my breasts to blossom, but they never really grew past a small B cup.
Fast forward many years later, I had birthed and nursed 3 babies in a three-and-a-half-year time span. This took a great toll on my already small breasts as well as my mindset. I had done intensive and continual work on figuring out how to ideally fuel my body and what was a healthy amount of exercise.
In deciding our family was complete, and with careful consideration and research, my husband and I both signed up for surgeries. He chose a vasectomy and I chose a breast augmentation. It didn't take long before I fell in love… I felt like a woman for the first time and I noticed a change in my confidence. I even went on to do a 35+ figure competition.
In addition to feeling comfortable in my own skin, my spiritual connection has always been very important to me. As I continued to grow and change in many ways, I began to feel uncomfortable about having physically altered my body in such a huge way. I also began to realize that had a little girl who, someday, may have parts of her beautiful body that weren’t her favorite.
Simultaneously, I began to experience some strange and unexplainable symptoms. I broke out in a rash all over my face. It went on for months before I was able to heal it. Turns out I had Perioral Dermatitis or PD. Additionally, I was losing hair and began to have tingling in my hands and feet. I also felt very anxious a lot of the time, despite all that I was doing to practice mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, walking, praying, and seeking outside help.
A close friend of mine, who also had breast implants, was experiencing similar symptoms. She shared with me that she was going to be pursuing an explanation due to BII.
WHAT?! What in the world was Breast Implant Illness (BII)?! I had no clue. This surely had my attention. I spent a ton of time reading anything and everything I could about BII, and I was SHOOK.
Here is what I learned… WHY DO IMPLANTS CAUSE BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS?
Breast implant illness really has nothing to do with the brand or type of implant that you have. Breast implant illness can occur in all brands and both saline and silicone implants and is a very multifaceted illness. The body begins to respond to the fact that breast implants are a foreign object implanted in your chest. They are near vital organs and glands and you can experience the usual foreign body immune response as your body mounts an all out war which causes immune deficits, immune dysfunction and eventually autoimmune symptoms and diseases. Our overwhelmed immune system eventually switches over to attacking itself instead of attacking the invaders.
(Taken from HealingBreastImplantIllness.com)
MY DECISION TO EXPLANT
It all made sense! I researched surgeons and set up a consultation. I just wanted them OUT. Could my symptoms have manifested from other causes? Stress? Dietary changes? Surely they could have. Could my symptoms have manifested from foreign objects placed on top of my rib cage that my body was constantly fighting against? Absolutely. Will I ever know the real cause? Not probable. But one thing I was sure about was that I was done with them. After several years of having these foreign objects in my body, and wanting to live authentically as my best self (mind, body, and spirit,) the implants didn’t even feel like me anymore.
Instead of showing them off, I kept them hidden. I constantly had fears they would leak or rupture. Hearing of Breast Implant Illness and all the compelling stories just validated what I had wanted to do for a while. I couldn’t wait to feel like me again.
I had worries and reservations, of course. Surgery and recovery is never fun. Spending thousands of dollars is never fun. And the unknown of what I would “look like?" But truthfully, I was at peace. The thing about time and maturity is that it offers a lot of life perspective. My 40-year-old self was nothing like my younger self.
My consultation went well. My surgeon commented that he’s met “a lot of patients like me.” He believed in BII even though it’s not a medically recognized term…yet. I scheduled surgery for just 4 weeks out. During those 4 weeks, I prepared myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Physically I prepared by eating a strict whole foods diet. I took lots of supplements as well as a probiotic and made sure I was getting enough rest. I knew my body would be going through some trauma, so I wanted it to be in its strongest state.
Mentally and emotionally I prepared by tossing out all my bras & bathing suits that I knew would no longer fit. I bought some new items in preparation for my smaller chest. I confided in friends & family about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how I was feeling about it. Just talking about your stressors is a great form of therapy.
Recovery from explant was easier than the implant. I would be happy to share more about this process with anyone who’s interested. Please feel free to reach out to me! email@example.com
So how did I “look?” About as I expected. As small as I was prior to implants, but I also got a lift at the same time and I was very glad I did. It felt SO GOOD to be me again.
FIVE YEARS POST-SURGERY
I feel renewed. Awakened. I think this was a journey I was meant to take in order to fully love myself, right now, in my skin. A journey that I can now share with others as they navigate their own journey of explant and self-love.
Maybe our biggest insecurities are really our superpowers? Maybe those things we pick apart on our bodies were ultimately meant for us to help heal and encourage others? Maybe we should allow our differences to empower us instead of hinder us?
I have small boobs. I’ve made peace with them (scars and all) and today I celebrate my healthy body.
What’s your superpower?
Grace and Peace,
To learn more about Breast Implant Illness, to find a safe community of support, and for a list of credible explant surgeons, go to HealingBreastImplantIllness.com.