Natural Muscle Cover Story

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‘The deepest regrets sometimes birth the deepest of victories’

 This quote reigns true for me as I write this article in a body filled with peace that was once tormented. Both physical sickness and mental stress controlled my life for the last 5 years; the better half of those struggles took place this past year (2015).   I haven’t worked out in over 8 months, call it a comeback, I am currently on the road to recovery.  Burdened to share my story, I know there are hundreds of thousands of women that may be sick, but don’t know why or what to do.

It all began about a year after I had breast surgery, a surgery that would change my life forever. My sickness came in the form of heart abnormalities, joint pain, brain fog, limb numbness, vertigo, food intolerance, extreme fatigue and much more. My life completely changed for the worse in 2010.

A special thank you to Natural Muscle for covering my story

You can also read the article on the Natural Muscle website.

My First Breast Surgery

I did not go into breast surgery for the most popular reason that other women do, which is to increase breast size.  Barley 5’1” with roughly a Triple D size chest was a real struggle. It made me uncomfortable, very self-conscience and forget about bathing suits! In 2005 I ended up losing around 30lbs by getting into fitness, eating clean and training for my goals. The weight loss was a great achievement and did my body good, but, I was left with extra skin on my chest that would rub and become irritated.   

Dealing with the extra skin was hard; still a small D cup, I decided to go in for a breast reduction/lift.  When I went in for the consult as well as while researching, I learned that I was a great candidate for breast implants. I was thinking “wait a minute, breast implants?” I had enough breast tissue as it was, and I was not looking to be bigger, but my surgeon informed me there were very small breast implants that are used to help with the lifting of breast tissue, skin, and shape. At first I was all for it, but as time went on I had a bad feeling deep in my gut that I should have listened to.

When I told my surgeon I was thinking of not getting the implants, she seemed very irritated and dismissive. After all, they know what’s best for us, or so we are told. With a knot in my stomach I proceeded with the surgery. To be honest, it turned out to be one of the most haunting experiences and memories I have ever had.

Coming out of surgery everything healed properly.  My extra skin was removed and I was still a size D cup. I really wanted to be smaller and was upset that I didn’t speak up.  I felt okay for the first year, as I previously stated I healed well.  But about a year later things began to change. I started feeling “off” or “not like myself.”  The feeling that something was NOT “right” compelled me to call my Doctor.   A basic panel of blood work was drawn and nothing appeared to be wrong. My thyroid was fine as well. So, for the time being I carried on. I started thinking it was “stress” or “I am just over tired”.  Time would reveal that this wasn’t the case.

Sickness – From Beginning to End

Over the next few years, my body began to host a variety of odd behaviors. I started to experience symptom after symptom which in turn, led to doctor after doctor, emergency room visits and more.  My heart began to beat in an abnormal fashion. I would often lose my breath and get dizzy. My jaw bone had an infection and began to attack itself; my dentist told me “sometimes the immune just attacks itself for whatever reason”.  My stomach could not tolerate different foods as normal and bright lights made me dizzy. I also experienced eye twitches (one eye twitch lasted for two whole years), and the right side of my body felt asleep at times. My moods were different, severe anxiety, thyroid nodules, body rashes and more. Of course, the medical response I would get is, ‘this sounds like an anxiety disorder.’

I knew in my heart it wasn’t an anxiety disorder. I had been telling my husband that something is wrong here; very, very wrong. I could feel it in the core of my being. These symptoms slowly built up over time. They didn’t happen all at once which made it even harder to understand. And as each doctor told me I was fine, I began to feel crazy and unheard.

Sickness Progression into Illness

This last year things took a turn for the worse. The fatigue became so bad I had to stop working out. It was hard to do normal daily tasks. If you know me, you know how much I love to train; it’s a way of life for me. I was unable to train for about 8 months. I tried to hide these symptoms and for a while did a good job.  After all, there was nothing wrong with me. Then people began asking me what was wrong. I didn’t know what to say. Then I began to have these panic attacks and crying fits in the middle of the night where I would wake up crying. As some days were good and some were bad, the bad became worse and it felt so hard to just live life. My motivation was gone.

The Answer to my Health Issues

Throughout the months I prayed and prayed that God would show me what was wrong. That next day, I came across a support group for Breast Implant Illness. I was shocked to see this group of women with all of the same exact symptoms as me! What was more interesting was that the ones who had explanted (removed their implants) had regained their heath. At first I was relieved. Finally, an answer to my madness! But shortly after that guilt set in. I began to think, “What did I do to myself?”  I knew I had a bad feeling about this all along. So, I was recommended through my support group to see Dr. Barnett of Sarasota, FL who to this day has performed over 3 thousand explants. I met with her and she stated that thousands of women have come to her sick with all the same symptoms as me. The great news is that two out of three women that explanted with her got better! Thankfully, I am one of them!

Life after Explant

My surgery for explant was this last March and I can honestly say, I haven’t felt this good in years. My whole life is different and I’m so thankful. After my surgery, I was shown what the doctor had pulled out of me, and to be honest, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to look at. As my knowledge grew on the subject of Breast Implant Illness, I learned that thousands of other women had the same pictures post explant of their capsules.

Our bodies form these capsules around the implants as a defense mechanism against this foreign object. When tested, the capsules have shown to host chemicals such as silicone, heavy metals and even mold. That’s just the beginning of the horrific things that can take place when getting implants. There is much more to learn from the ugly side of Breast Implants. The same breast implants that doctors tell us are “perfectly safe”.  This capsule is in 100% of women with breast implants, it is not my implant, but rather a defense mechanism in the body to encapsulate the implant (foreign object) with scar tissue.     

capsule removed
My actual capsule, not implant.

(capsules occur in 100% of women with implants)

#BreastImplantIllness

Right now there are thousands of women removing their breast implants all over the country; I think it’s safe to say something is of concern. The hash tag #BreastImplantIllness is increasing daily as women with health issues state they regain their health after removing their implants. The Inquisitr stated recently, “Women are taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction with their breast implants — be they silicone, saline, or gummy bear implants that are supposed to be “unleakable” — and they are connecting their implants with bad experiences in their health. Doctors are even posting photos of breast implants that are removed from bodies, with mold or capsulated appearances.”

 

There’s even more data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery stating that “the 10th ranked surgery for 2015 was Breast Implant Removal.” So, why are all of these women removing their implants? Let’s take a look at a few things; some of these might be shocking, as implants aren’t as ‘safe’ as we are told.

Breast Implant Facts

First understand that each year roughly 300,000 women and teenagers undergo breast augmentation for various reasons. Worldwide, this number is roughly between 5 to 10 million. The FDA states the surgery is generally safe, and with the popularity of the procedure, many women are unaware of the concerns and possible side effects of inserting the silicone and saline implants into the body. Before the operations women are often told by their surgeons that it is a safe procedure with “very little” risk.

Many consumers are also unaware that implants have a shelf life anywhere from 7–10 years. Every type of implant is susceptible to leakage, rupturing, fostering mold, and systemic fungal growth in the body. What we are also not told is that over time, the body may begin to treat the implant as a foreign toxic object and in turn, we may develop autoimmune responses leading to a host of side effects and illnesses. From autoimmune diseases to extreme fatigue, the symptoms are many.  I myself showed up with an autoimmune response in my blood work while I was sick.

Silicone in the Headlines

In the 1990’s roughly 450,000 US women took one of the world’s largest silicone manufacturers to court due to health complications after breast augmentation. Many women lost their lives due to the health complications before the court case was ever resolved. The court found these implants to be highly toxic. In studies following the lawsuit, research found the silicone was easily absorbed into the body (per animal studies) and resulted in tumors in up to 80 percent of the rats that were tested. After these studies were performed and reviewed by the FDA, the silicone implants were still allowed on the market. 

Following the implant case, the media announced a scandal with PIP implants in the UK, which hit nationwide news. The PIP implants were found to contain chemicals that were toxic and normally used in production of mattresses and were not approved for human use. The UK banned the implants and offered free removal to all women involved in purchasing them. It was stated after that, that the silicone implants are now safe, made with a higher quality silicone. Here is the list of chemicals that make up the silicon breast implant, which doesn’t seem too safe to me:

 

  • Methyl ethyl ketone (neurotoxin)
  • Cyclohexanone (neurotoxin)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Acetone (used in nail polish remover and is a neurotoxin)
  • Urethane
  • Polyvinyl chloride (neurotoxin)
  • Amine
  • Toluene
  • Dichloromethane (carcinogen)
  • Chloromethane
  • Ethyl acetate (neurotoxin)
  • Silicone
  • Sodium fluoride
  • Lead Based Solder
  • Formaldehyde
  • Talcum powder
  • Oakite (cleaning solvent)
  • Methyl 2- Cyanoacrylate
  • Ethylene Oxide (Carcinogen)
  • Xylene (neurotoxin)
  • Hexon
  • 2-Hedanone
  • Thixon-OSN-2
  • Stearic Acid
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Naptha (rubber solvent)
  • Phenol (neurotoxin)
  • Benzene (carcinogen/neurotoxin)
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Epoxy resin
  • Epoxy hardener
  • Printing Ink
  • Metal cleaning acid
  • Color pigments as release agents
  • Heavy metals such as aluminum (neurotoxin linked to Alzheimer’s and Autoimmune disorders)
  • Platinum
  • Silica

Dr. Melmed states “While the FDA now openly mentions problems that often occur in many women with breast implants, such as leaking and rupturing, they fail to warn the public about the more dangerous connection to auto-immune disorders.”  With that list of chemicals, it doesn’t take a leak or rupture to have a negative effect of one’s health. The FDA actually allowed implants to be put onto the market for over 40 years without formally approving them, so it’s not always wise to trust what they say. As time goes on and more women connect the dots, the truth about Breast Implants is reaching many!

Silicon vs. Saline Safety

According to Dr. Susan Kolb, “Even though saline implants are known to be safer, they do carry a host of health issues.” The outer shell of the implant is in fact silicone.  According to Dr. Nancy Bruning, “60% of women will have complications within four years, and 1 out of 5 women will have additional surgery in three years.” The average surgeon advises removal every 7–10 years after surgery for proper maintenance as the implant breaks down. Again, this information is inconsistent with normal doctor guidelines and is very troubling since the FDA fails to regulate the safety and correct protocol for augmentation, both with silicone and saline.

silicone vs saline
Possible side effect of Saline and Silicone Breast Implants:
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Candida/yeast infections
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Dry skin
  • Abnormal heart rhythm/palpitations
  • Ringing in ears
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vertigo
  • Night sweats
  • Visual disturbances
  • Food Intolerances
  • Inflammation
  • Tenderness, lumpiness, or discomfort around the implants
  • Change in the shape of your breast(s)
  • Change in the consistency of your breast, such as increased softness
  • Change in the way your breast moves – (all of these symptoms may be a sign your implant has ruptured)
  • Hardening of breast tissue
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain and swelling of the joints
  • Pain in the soft tissues
  • A burning sensation
  • Tightness, redness, or swelling of the skin
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • Unusual, extreme, or unexplained fatigue
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Unusual hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Skin thickening or hardening
  • Dry eyes, mouth, or vagina
  • Loss of memory, mental confusion or fogginess
  • Autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, multiple chemical sensitivity disorder, cancer, and bio toxicity problems
  • Endocrine disruptions
Breast Implant Safety Studies

It may come as no surprise to discover that most of the breast implant studies which ‘prove’ the safety of this procedure come from the manufacturers themselves. Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., was involved in more than a dozen congressional investigations (in the 90’s) which discussed breast implant safety (and its serious lack thereof). She raised questions about the huge lack of safety data about implants. This is from Nancy Brunning’s book Breast Implants – Everything You Need to Know:

“The poor quality of these studies is why I keep saying we don’t know whether implants are safe over the long term, because the studies were not well enough designed to be persuasive. The information on the IOM panel studied was based on studies that had substantial flaws. There was no federally funded research until recently. Virtually all research done was paid for by the manufacturers or plastic surgeons, and, not surprisingly, their research found that implants were safe. If the only research on cancer and smoking we had was funded by Philip Morris, we would still be listening to the scientists who were saying there’s an association but that doesn’t mean causation.”

There have been federally funded studies into longer term safety about breast implants. One of them, which was the first study to ever follow women with ruptured implants, was conducted by the FDA. The researchers found that the women who had this problem were more likely to report also having fibromyalgia or other “potentially fatal” autoimmune diseases or related illnesses such as dermatomyositis, hashimotos thyroiditis, polymyalgia and polyositis, and pulmonary fibrosis. This was because the silicone gel had migrated from the scar tissue into the body.

Another two separate studies, both of which were conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), found the following alarming information: Women who had breast implants, compared to other plastic surgery operations, were three times more likely to die from cancer of the lung or suffer with emphysema or pneumonia. They were also twice as likely to die from brain cancer.  

The other study by NCI found that women with implants experienced a 21% increased cancer risk. These types were mainly brain cancers, cervical cancer, leukemia, vulvar cancer, and respiratory cancer. This often fatal lung-disease connection is from ruptured implants causing an increased incidence of lung disease.

While there has been an improvement in the quality of studies, we cannot guarantee that they are all being done accurately. More recently in 2013, Dr. Zuckerman released a statement regarding the FDA’s quiet approval (which did not have a public Advisory Committee meeting to discuss data, unlike other breast implant approvals) of a new type of silicone implant called Natrelle 410, manufactured by the company Allergen. This is part of what she wrote:

“Unfortunately, Allergan has not done a good job of doing post-market studies once their implants have been approved. And, even if they do these studies, by the time these studies are done to find out what the risks are, hundreds of thousands of women could have these inadequately studied devices in their bodies, and could have been harmed by them.” I personally had this kind- Allergen Natrelle.  I’m not tearing down the FDA, but I do want to see their standards improve concerning breast Implants.

 

A Thought Provoking fact

Over 97% percent of women who have had their implants removed have noted health improvements and 96% who did not remove the implants noticed their symptoms getting worse. Is it really worth this risk? Nothing is worth losing your health or life for breast implants. Keep in mind, they are not life time devices and “ALL breast implants will eventually break” stated Dr. Susan Kolb of Atlanta. It is not known how many years the breast implants that are currently on the market will last. Studies of silicone breast implants suggest that most implants last seven to 12 years, but some break during the first few months or years, while others last more than 15 years.

 Although this outcome of breast implant Illness is the experiences of many women, it doesn’t mean this is or will be yours. As a consumer you have the right to know what possible risks and side effects could come with implants. It’s only fair. If I had known even a fraction of this information I would have never made the choice to implant, and that was not fair. 

Proper Implant Removal

For those looking to have their implants removed, make sure you choose an experienced surgeon who will perform the surgery “en-block style or Full capsolectomy” which removes both the implant and the capsule. This will ensure nothing toxic is left behind.

A special thanks to Dr. Barnett of Sarasota, FL who is an amazing surgeon. To date Dr. Barnett has performed over 3,000 ex-plants and is a Harvard & MIT graduate; I highly recommend her.  Dr. Barnett has stated 2/3 women are healed of the systemic symptoms after breast implant removal, this proves it is not in our head; I am 1 of those 2!

For more information on this topic please visit “Healing Breast Implant Illness”, link below.

If you need support please visit our support Facebook group, link below.