“Every woman that finally figured out her worth has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom which landed in the valley of change.” Shannon L. Alder
So…I’m doing a thing. Something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. Something I’ve entertained and talked about for years (but have had orthopedic issues which were more pressing and needed tending to). Something I am hoping will improve my health and long-term quality of life. As someone who has always been into health and wellness, I can honestly say that my lifestyle is all about self-care. And at this point in my life, it makes all the sense in the world to do this thing…it’s been overdue.
Back when I was 40 years old- probably in a place of not really knowing my Self and my worth- I was into heavy weight training, spin classes, aerobics, kick-boxing, step and all things related to body image and achieving that perfect “balance” in body physique. To the dismay of my husband at the time, I got breast augmentation. He could not understand why on earth I would want them because he didn’t feel I needed them. But, you know how vanity and ego work hand in hand. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I did not realize how the beauty industry was such a toxic part of our society and deeply rooted in white supremacy.
Now, 20+ years and several pounds later (and guess where most of THAT weight has gone), I have decided to finally get my breast implants removed. I continue working on dissolution of the ego so, YES, I’m boarding my flight to freedom and landing in the valley of change. If you know me, you know how much I love and embrace change!
As a matter of fact, the explant surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, June 2nd.
If you follow me, you know that I believe sharing is caring, that our stories inspire, educate, and motivate others. It is part of what it means to be human in this web on interconnection. I’m a firm believer in what Maya Angelou used to say, “When you learn, teach.”
So…I am passing along some basic information about Breast Implant Inflammation- otherwise known as BII.You can google it yourself and fall into the rabbit hole- but I’m here to spare you. I just wanted to pass on some info in the event you or someone you know is contemplating getting implants or having them removed.
Disclaimer: all the information regarding BII that follows I got from various sources online.
BII is an informal term that some women — and even some doctors — use to describe a range of unexplained symptoms that women can experience following cosmetic breast augmentation or reconstructive breast surgery with implants.
Some symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
joint and muscle pain, memory loss, concentration problems, breathing problems, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance rashes, skin problems, dry mouth, dry eyes, anxiety, depression, migraines, hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, symptoms of EBV, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Sjogren’s, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, toxic shock …and the list can go on and on.
The symptoms can appear any time after implant surgery — some people develop symptoms immediately, while some develop them years later. A lot of the symptoms of BII are associated with autoimmune and connective tissue disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Some people who have BII also get diagnosed with a specific autoimmune or connective tissue disorder, but many do not. In many, but not all cases, surgery to remove the breast implants improves or completely resolves the BII symptoms. BII is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, and there is no diagnosis code for it. It is poorly understood and hasn’t been studied much as a unique condition.
“BII is a cluster of symptoms that don’t fit into any other classic disease diagnosis,” says Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., president of the National Center for Health Research and a researcher who studies breast implant safety issues. “We believe that it eventually will be recognized as a medical condition, but that process will take time.” Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the major plastic surgery societies, and other health authorities have been devoting more attention to BII than they did in the past.
In May 2019, the FDA released a statement noting that the agency’s officials are “taking steps to better characterize [BII] and its risk factors, and are considering ways to help to ensure women have all of the information they need to make informed decisions about whether to obtain breast implants or to remove existing breast implants in an effort to reverse systemic symptoms.” In October 2019, the agency published a draft of recommendations to implant manufacturers for new labeling for breast implants. The agency advised manufacturers to include information about the risk of systemic symptoms in a boxed warning and in a patient decision checklist that would be included in patient information booklets.
In addition, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation are developing and funding new research on BII. To date, there haven’t been any studies that looked at the number of women with breast implants who develop BII. More women have been reporting BII symptoms to doctors and to the FDA during the last few years, which may be because social media groups and media coverage helped to raise awareness of the condition. Thousands of women have joined online communities related to breast implant illness.
From my personal experience, I can tell you there are thousands of stories, experiences, support, resources and tools on these private social media groups. That is a rabbit hole I found myself falling into once I scheduled my surgery. While these groups are informative, supportive and educational, I decided two weeks ago to just stay off socials as I prep for my surgery. Keeping my nervous system regulated is a daily practice, so I’ll go back on after the fact and share my experience with the group. The members are truly very supportive!
Also, I would highly recommend watching the documentary Explant. As described online, Michelle Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, author and podcaster, is no stranger to the limelight. And now she adds documentary star to her list of accomplishments with the release of Explant, streaming on Paramount+ Michelle Visage had her breast implants removed after 20 years of unexplained, undiagnosed illness. Now her deeply personal journey is available to the masses, with the hopes of redeeming other women, through Explant.
I found it to be a stellar documentary, so well done, so much research, interviews, internal memos leaked, clips of hearings, lots of history, foul play and press clippings….. It’s definitely worth watching. Had something like this been around back then, I would have NEVER gotten breast implants! If you are contemplating getting implants, please watch this documentary…do your research! If a child, relative or friend is contemplating getting them, recommend the documentary. Hey, I am all for plastic surgery if that is what you want to do or have to do for obvious reasons like post- mastectomy or are transitioning and want to have top surgery. I’m simply a firm believer in being an educated consumer. and knowing your options.
These days, I’m simply not into doing anything that puts my own health at risk anymore. So…I’m hoping that, like scores of other women who’ve had explant surgery, my autoimmune issues may start improving. And if they do, great! If not, it’s still a win-win because I am getting something out of my body that I wish I had never put in.
I’d like to send a shout out to all my supportive friends who are my lifeline…you know who you are, what you do and how you do it! I am truly blessed and infinitely grateful to be surrounded by such loving and badass goddesses, soul sisters and humans who know how to show up and how to rally around you. We are always there for each other because, in the words of my dearest friend Patti, “This is what we do.”
The following affirmation found its way to me, and its timing is perfect:
“I am choosing to commit to myself, my health and my healing. I commit to the practices and actions that help me be clear, centered and grounded. I know that when I take care of myself, everything aligns in my life beautifully.”
See you on the other side!
Infinite love and gratitude, JTC