When I was 17, one of my natural breasts was taken away from me, and the other was irreversibly altered. I was a breast-cancer patient, and just months before I was headed to my senior prom, I had to have a mastectomy and reconstruction.
What I didn't realize then was that the reconstruction and augmenting would lead to significant and long lasting health issues whose extent matched that of the cancer's.
I was told that saline implants were safe. If they were to rupture, the liquid inside would be reabsorbed harmlessly by my body. I was told the only threat an implant malfunction posed was an inconvenience to my schedule: I would have to take time to come into the doctor's office for an outpatient replacement procedure. This sounded pretty awesome to me! Except I was unaware of two very critical pieces of information:
Saline implants are encased in silicone shells … and they can leak.
Can you hear the penny dropping? I did. But I didn't hear it until October 2013 — 14 years after I got my first set of implants.
This August, I came down with a terrible, unexplainable stomach bug. It was intensely painful, and nothing seemed to help or lead me to a diagnosis: the BRP diet (bananas, rice, potatoes); sessions with my homeopath; energy healings; ultrasounds of my abdomen (e.g. liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen); blood tests for celiac, liver disease, and other things I can't pronounce; and stool samples for parasites. Everything was negative. On paper, I appeared to be perfectly healthy. But when — for the umpteenth time — I was lying in the fetal position in my bed, crying because of pain from distension that made me look six months pregnant, I decided that was it. It was time to Google!
I try to avoid Googling my symptoms because I usually misdiagnose and freak myself out.
“Oh my GOD! My palm itches! I think I have a brain tumor! AAAAAAaaaaah!”
We’ve all been there!
But I'd had enough. I was going on eight weeks of bloating, restlessness, extreme lethargy, crazy mood swings, and the aforementioned distension. This called for an extreme measure!
So, I Googled. I searched and searched, and then that penny I was mentioning earlier dropped:
"Saline breast implant toxicity."
WHAT!? I think my jaw literally dropped. I was FLOORED. What did THAT mean? And why had I never been told about it? How could these perfectly safe devices cause toxicity? Well, in a multitude of ways.
According to Dr. Susan Kolb, a plastic surgeon who has conducted extensive research on this particular topic and now dedicates her practice to helping women with "silicone, chemical, and biotoxicity problems from breast implants," saline breast implants can: