Breast implant illness? Sharing Ashley’s story

Before I get into my personal story –

This post is not intended to make any woman with breast implants panic and run the the nearest explant surgeon to get them removed.

It is also not meant to change the minds of someone who wants implants.

This post is to share my story, share my knowledge and spread valuable information that I think everyone should know before making such a huge life decision. Whether that be getting implants or removing them. Both are huge decisions and should be something that you are 100% sure about.

No one can make your decision for you, no one is in your head and no one can feel what you feel.

I love my new look.

Well, in fact its actually my old look, that I never ever should have wanted to change in the first place. Rather than feel sorry for myself and sulk about how young and stupid I was for doing such an awful thing to my body, I became aware. I went through a lot of pain, suffering, insecurities (and have some gnarly scars to go with it), but now I have a story and can help others.

Why I got them in the first place?

“They are going to change my life.” Money, friends, attention, cool jobs.. you name it and I thought it. It is kind of sad now that I think about it. I thought 4lb of toxic silicone (and 1000 other toxic substances) filled bags would change my world. These are the things that most people don’t know when they are 19 years old. I don’t think anything or anyone could have changed my choice at that point of my life. I was 19, living on my own with my boyfriend just outside of Chicago. A new city, new lifestyle and had the opportunity to get given perfect, beautiful breast implants by a highly skilled surgeon. What flat chested 19 year old would say “no” to that?

At the time, I was studying to be a holistic nutritionist and was very conscious of what I put in my body – although for some reason thought silicone implants would be fine. My mom begged me not to do it, and must have asked me 1000x if I was sure and if I did enough research.

I was so sure. I booked for the day before American Thanksgiving 2014 and I was so excited.

I though I did my research, but definitely not enough. Of course, I knew of some side effects but I figured since my diet was quite clean, didn’t smoke or do drugs, barely touched alcohol – that I would be fine. I thought the negative effects of the implants would be non existent for myself because of how healthy I was and always would be. BOY was I wrong.

I listened to everything my surgeon said and figured after the 10 years was up (the recommended duration silicone implants last before needing to be replaced), I would be done having kids and I would either take them out and be eu natural, or get them replaced with a new set. I planned everything out perfectly in my head and was so ready.

I had the procedure and everything went well. My surgeon did an amazing job and is highly skilled. What eventually happened to me was not my surgeons fault, it was my body’s immune response to the implants.

Long story short – a few weeks went by and I was still trying to get adjusted. I was sore and already felt trapped and suffocated in my own body. I cried some nights because I felt just so weird. I had these amazing boobs that I always wanted – but they just didn’t feel like me. I felt large, heavy and not myself. I wondered what was wrong with me, why didn’t I love them? I wore tight sports bras 24-7 to smush them down and rarely would “show them off”. I figured it would go away and that they would grow on me, but it never really happened.  I never actually liked them or the way I felt with them. They never became a part of me. Implants did not do anything I thought they would.

My life didn’t change, my confidence got worse, my health declined and I felt so trapped in my own body.

My symptoms and connecting all the dots

Even with the research I did prior to implanting, I never came across the websites that changed my life and probably saved my life.

I didn’t have an explanation for all my unexplained random health issues I had, but eventually I was able to connect the dots after a yoga injury I experienced in March 2017 that led me to doing further research about the toxic implants I had inside of me. Once I found the website/facebook page:

https://healingbreastimplantillness.com

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Healingbreastimplantillness/

I was shocked and felt sick to my stomach.

I finally realized that I had BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS.

My anxiety and panic disorder went through the roof and got really bad.

I couldn’t eat, sleep, breath properly or get my mind off of what a terrible thing I had done to myself and my poor body. I wanted these things out now, like within the next 24 hours. I was calling office after office trying to get a consultation with a surgeon that performs explants because most are not trained to do so. (my original plastic surgeon being one).

Breast implant illness is real. Whether you want to believe it or not, the body is going to react to any foreign object in the body (of course – some more severe than others, and some way worse if an implant ruptures).

The symptoms I was experiencing:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing (since the day of implant I had felt like a ton of bricks had been placed on my chest)
  • Low progesterone/hormone imbalances
  • Loss of period
  • Low sex drive
  • Cold hands and feet constantly
  • Numbness up arms
  • Ear ringing
  • Eye twitches
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Inflammation/bloating
  • Headaches
  • Neck and upper back pain
  • Shoulder rounding
  • Stabbing heart pains
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Vertigo
  • Weight gain in arms and chest around implants (this was my body showing protection and defence to the toxic objects)
  • Muscle weakness (in chest) I used to lift way heavier and do “real” pushups on my toes!
  • Dry skin/random rashes
  • Brain fog, trouble concentrating and memory loss (this was one of my MAJOR symptoms)
  • Difficulty swallowing, lump in throat
  • Funny metal taste in mouth

Explantation

I waited 6 months for a consultation with an amazing doctor in Toronto that was recommended by the BII healing site and FB group. OHIP thankfully covers the procedure in Canada with a family doctors prerequisite.

6 months after waiting for a consultation, I was able to book for surgery and had my implants removed on October 31st 2017.

Detoxing, supplements and diet

I gave my body a full week to heal on its own.

This means absolutely no supplements, (except a probiotic) no banning foods and no stress!

For me it was important to listen to my body and give it the foods it craved. All organic, home cooked real food. I wasn’t overly hungry but made myself eat. I drank a lot of homemade bone broth (pasture raised chicken and grass-fed beef), matcha and/or turmeric lattes made with homemade almond milk, raw honey, collagen peptides and ghee/coconut oil, lots of soups, apples with almond butter, tons of greens, loaded smoothies and was craving lots of fats like avocado, nuts, grass-fed beef and lamb + lots of organic dark chocolate! I just listened to my body and gave it all the calories it wanted and needed to have strength to heal.

One week post surgery, I started up my protocol that I created for myself weeks before surgery. I researched so much over the few months before my surgery as to why these supplements are beneficial after explant surgery.

I researched a ton and compiled what I already knew to come up with my exact plan and regimen.

The protocol below is what I chose and put together for myself and my own body knowing already how I react to certain things and what my body needs.

What works for me may not work for you but this is my guideline that I am happy to share!

Morning upon wakening:

  • Large glass (probably about 24oz) of warm water with 1/2 lemon, 2tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar and 1tsp of Schinoussa sea vegetables. It contains: spirulina, E3live, chlorella, blue green algae, chlorophyll and iodine. These all stimulate detoxification.
  • 2 serrapeptase capsules on empty stomach (serrapeptase is a powerful natural enzyme from silk worms. I HIGHLY recommend researching this stuff and reading more about it. It essentially breaks down scar tissue, reduces inflammation and speeds up tissue repair. I can’t say enough good about this miracle enzyme.

With breakfast

  • 2 5-HTP sprays by Physica (I have been taking this for over 6 months and have noticed a huge difference in my anxiety, panic attacks and depression)
  • 5 sprays of Garden of life vitamin D (Vitamin D is essential in healing and hormones, I have always taken it and continue to do so)
  • 5 sprays of Garden of life vitamin C (Vitamin C is essential in reducing inflammation and boosting immune system)
  • 1 tsp Genestra vitamin B-complex (Again, I have been taking this for years, B vitamins are important for detoxification, nervous system and metabolism of carbohydrates)

With lunch 

  • 1 scoop AOR inositol
  • 3/4 tsp MSM powder

Both MSM and inositol initiate silicone detoxification. Inositol is often sometimes called Vitamin B8 although it is not technically a vitamin. It helps with nerve function (Much needed after explant, nerves are stretched from the implants originally being inside, once removed there is often nerve damage) MSM has so many more benefits as well like muscle pain and spasms, hair and skin growth and helps gut health issues.

With dinner 

  • 1 Enzymedica digestive enzyme (I east dinner late and often eat meat at this time so I like to help my body out with an enzyme to break down my food and absorb my nutrients)
  • 1 ATP Estro control (Implants have seriously messed up my hormonal health over the last 3 years and I suffer from high estrogen, this brand makes a great formula that effectively promotes healthy estrogen metabolism, it contains DIM and an added bonus turmeric which is amazing for inflammation too!)

At bedtime 

  • 1 Garden of life ultra 90 billion (Just a favourite brand of mine, probiotics are definitely needed for restoring the gut, and healthy gut flora). I am now just taking a 25 billion probiotic. The 90 is very strong and potent, I only used that for a month after surgery. IMO you don’t need that high of probiotics for that long of a period of time
  • 2 CanPrev 5-htp capsules (Another form of 5-htp tryptophan that has really helped with me with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and mood stabilization. It also helps me sleep better)
  • Progesterone cream (This natural bio-identical progesterone cream is made for me specially by my integrative doctor. Silicone is an endocrine disruptor and strips the body of progesterone and causes other hormonal imbalances)
  • Magnesium spray on my feet! (helps me sleep and raises cellular magnesium levels)

I sometimes also take Aloe vera juice for digestive support on days I feel I need it, and L-Theanine+magnesium for high stress days. I also take an amino acid complex when I lift (which isn’t allowed until 12 weeks post surgery).

Once cleared to do so, I started taking regular epsom salts baths to stimulate detox, sauna about 4-5 times a week, hot/cold showers and dry skin brushing to promote circulation, stimulate lymphatic system and again detoxification.

I also bought this glass cupping set (I avoid plastic and silicone products) on amazon and its amazing! You can google how to do this. Its really easy and is great for breaking up scar tissue, firming skin/stretch marks, cellulite and detoxification.

In regards to diet – I consumed a LOW mycotoxin/antifungal diet.

An antifungal/low mycotoxin diet is very similar to a candida diet. Fungi and yeast can become parasitic organism in our body and cause many health issues that are difficult to diagnose. Silicone implants (and saline) are filled with toxic chemicals. Your body also produces and scar capsule around you implant that is filled with the toxic chemicals from the implants that naturally leech out.

What I ate:

  • Organic meats
  • Bone broth
  • Chia seeds and ground flax seeds
  • Leafy greens and green vegetables
  • Apple cider vinegar

What I avoided:

  • Vinegar
  • Grains
  • Peanuts
  • All forms of sugar (this includes fruit)
  • Alcohol
  • Conventional dairy

6-Month Post-Op Surgery Update:

I can’t believe that April 30th was exactly 6 months post op of my surgery.

For the most part, I feel great and have healed just as I had hoped I would.

From just before Christmas until mid April I was lucky enough to spend 4 months living in pretty much pure winter wonderland bliss in Sweden while loathing in self care. My mornings (when not working) pretty much looked like: sleeping in till 9, sipping on 32oz of warm lemon water, bulletproof matcha latte, a self taught hot yoga session followed by a 15-20 minute sauna, dry brushing, hot/cold shower, cupping, self-massage, a big and nourishing lunch then an afternoon walk.

I journaled, I read, I walked, I practiced yoga, I cooked a ton and I healed.

I missed my family and I felt alone at times but it was all worth it. I know all of that sounds like a lot or very unrealistic but I really believe I healed so well because I dedicated so much of my time to myself and allowing my body to heal.

As for my symptoms prior to removal I would say they are about 80% gone.

Symptoms that have cleared completely or almost completely:

What I ate:

  • Difficulty breathing – I no longer feel like i have a ton of bricks on my chest, I can actually take deep long breaths and feel like I am getting so much more air.
  • Heart palpitations and anxiety
  • Cold hands and feet, numbness down arms
  • Ear ringing and eye twitches
  • Inflammation, bloating
  • Stabbing heart pains
  • Vertigo
  • Constipation and digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Upper back and neck pain + shoulder rounding
  • Weird metallic taste in mouth
  • Brain fog, trouble concentrating and memory loss

The only symptoms I am still severely suffering from is hormonal issues. I still have a loss of my period, low progesterone and all the other issues that come with hormonal imbalances.

I’ve seen naturopathic doctors, my western medicine family doctor, have been tested for PCOS, have had so much blood work, tried natural progesterone cream, acupuncture, vitex, I take extra vitamin b6 for progesterone production, adaptogens for hormonal support+regulation and eat a super clean hormonal friendly diet. As I mentioned before, silicone leaches progesterone from the body and can have a major impact on hormones. I am determined to keep trying and remembering that natural methods take time. Patience is key!

How I look

I know that this is the burning question that many women are probably thinking and most concerned about if they were to go forward with explant surgery.

Personally, I think my boobs look great. They look almost exactly the same as they did before surgery. In my opinion, they look even better because of the way I perceive myself now.

I was hesitant to post these photos but I want to be real and honest with everyone who reads this.

I love my real boobs. I feel less heavy and bulky, I have better posture and I actually walk around proud now. I can finally fit into the things I missed being able to wear that I wore prior to my augmentation.

If the only thing keeping you from removing your implants is vanity, then let me tell you that if I could do it then so can you. Take control of your health and own the body you were given, because it is beautiful.

No “look” is worth a life of pain, sickness and suffering.

Pictured:

Top Left: 2 days before augmentation – November 2014  (19 years old)

Top Right: 2 days BEFORE explant – October 2017 – 22 years old (looking at these side by side you can see how inflamed and puffy my body was with the implants)

Bottom Left: 2 days AFTER explant (I did NOT have a lift or fat transfer)

Bottom Right: 3 months after explant (my boobs look a little bigger now than before my augmentation. I was only 19 when I got them and I don’t think I was even fully developed yet)

Everyones result are different, these were mine and I couldn’t be happier.

Ashley xx

Personal story by Ashley Hoar @realroots

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