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  • Writer's pictureJes Culpepper

Breast Implant Illness

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

Just over 7 weeks ago, I had these toxic bags removed from my body. Within a week of my surgery, I found it hard to sit still and rest because I felt so good! I had to remind myself I was recovering from surgery and though my mind was saying get up and go girl, my body told me to hold on just a minute and calm myself. Now, just 7 weeks post-op, I'm feeling better than I have in years!

My backstory: In 2011 I decided to get implants to help improve my physical appearance (though looking back I didn’t need them). I had lost a lot of weight and was very self-conscience about my breasts. I had a breast reduction in 2001 which left me with uneven breasts and substantial scarring. After the weight loss, they looked even worse than they had before. So, implants I got. And man, they looked so good right after and I had so much more confidence. Little did I know the toll they would take on my mind, body and spirit.

Fast forward to 6 months post-implant surgery and I started getting so tired all the time. I was super active with fitness (boot camp and gym) but could literally fall asleep in the middle of a work out. I was working in Tallahassee at the time so I chalked it up to the drive every day and having a 2 year old and 12 year old.

Fast forward another 2 years and the exhaustion continued along with several other new symptoms. No matter how I ate (gluten free, paleo, low carb), no matter the exercise, I was gaining weight. I tried crazy diets and lost little to nothing. I was so exhausted and felt like I was walking around in a fog all the time. I had an upset tummy every day, ringing in my ears, pain in my hands, hips, neck, feet, I was losing hair, etc... I felt like a 60 year old woman. And I had no idea what was the cause of my feeling so badly.

4 years ago I had my first doctor visit about my health issues. The doctor ran an ANA panel and my results were crazy. Positive markers for Lupus, positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Adrenal Fatigue, my infection levels were high, etc... When the doctor walked in with the results he said "no wonder you feel so bad". Finally, some basis for I felt like crap all the time. So, what do we do about that? The doctor explained to me that the medications required to help my new conditions could make me feel even worse. That scared me. So, I opted not to take anything and continue trying to eat well, exercise and move forward.

As time went on, my symptoms were just worsening, making it hard to function at home and work. The brain fog and memory issues were becoming overwhelming. I felt nuts. I was losing myself. I didn’t want to go anywhere. My anxiety was driving me crazy. I just didn’t feel like me. - 18 months ago I went in to see my primary again and he mentioned Breast Implant Illness to me. I was like "what?!" He said, "Yes... your implants can be making you sick. Your immune system is undoubtedly responding to these foreign objects in your body. Everything you’re experiencing can be a side effect of your implants." Not to mention my breasts had nearly tripled in size by this point and didn't look anything like they did when I got them.

I left the doctor’s office that day and started researching everything I could. Sure enough, information about Breast Implant Illness was everywhere. I found a group on Facebook called “Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole” and read hundreds of stories of women who felt just like I did. I was overwhelmed and scared. Can my implants really be the cause of my declining health? - Though Breast Implant Illness is not a scientifically recognized illness, there are a great deal of studies proving the ill effects implants can have on a person's body. More so, the side effects are right there on the box. I downloaded the pamphlet for my implants (Mentor Memory Gel Silicone Implants {aka "Gummy Bear Implants"}) and everything I was going through was right there in black in white as a warning of the side effects that come with implants (saline or silicone). Why wasn't I told or provided this information?

A few months ago I had a thermogram of my breasts. I chose a thermogram rather than a mammogram so I didn't put myself at risk for a rupture if there wasn't one. My results showed severe inflammation levels. They told me I was one of the worst they’d seen. Further tests showed the levels of estrogen in my chest/breasts being extremely high. They said “those need to come out”, “it’s a breeding ground for breast cancer in there.” That was hard to hear. Scary. I mean, I had done this to myself. Voluntarily.

If my implants were contributing to any of my debilitating symptoms and putting my health at risk, they had to go! Sure, I was skeptical, I had doubts, I was scared I’d have my implants removed and not feel better. I was scared of what my physical results would look like. But I was losing myself, my spirit, my life... I was miserable. I was not the wife, mom and friend that I once was. It was affecting me at work. So, on Friday, December 14th, I had my explant surgery with Dr. Rawlings in Tallahassee to remove my breast implants and their capsules (the scar tissue formed around the implants).

I woke up after surgery and it felt like someone had stabbed me straight in the tits (because they did, lol). But I also felt awake. Like super alert and awake. The next morning, less than a full day post-op, I felt better. I woke up without the pain and exhaustion that was my normal every day. Sure, my boobs hurt and my back and shoulders are sore from surgery, but the other stuff, gone. I took Tylenol and Arnica right after surgery for a little over a week; but now, nothing. I can’t remember a day without waking up in an exhaustive fog with having joint pain all day and night. I had headaches daily for so long and I have only had 2 since my surgery almost 8 weeks ago. I had come to rely on Aleve and Motrin just to function every day because of the arthritic pain and now I don't take anything every day. - I still have a ways to go in my healing but the symptoms that have subsided so quickly amaze me. All of my arthritic pain is gone. My eyes and face look brighter and more pink (I was so yellow!). I’ve lost 11 lbs since surgery, which is I believe was all pure inflammation. My eyesight has improved, my brain fog has lifted, I'm able to focus better, my energy level is so much better, my IBS is gone, etc... There is no doubt in my mind that my implants were the sole cause of all of my health issues over the last 7 1/2 years.

I, nervously, shared my story on my FB and IG and the ‘likes’, comments and messages have blown me away! I have received so much encouragement, support and curiosity. I had no idea so many people I know have implants (and issues). I even had a guy friend reach out about his beautiful wife and what’s she’s been going through and now she's scheduled for her surgery to have her implants removed next Friday. I have another friend who is scheduled in May for hers. -- So, I know my story, though a tad raw and embarrassing, is worth sharing even if it just helps one person. No one should live feeling like crap all the time just to have big breasts. Life is too short and too wonderful to miss out on just for boobs!

Breast Implant Illness is real. It steals your joy and your life. If you’re on the fence about removing your implants, take the leap. You will not regret it. Join the rest of us #BIIwarriors and take your life and health back! -- And if you're considering breast implants, please don't do it! Love yourself just the way you are!!

And though I was fearful, my post-op results are awesome. I love my healthier, smaller boobies!

I encourage anyone with implants, or considering them, to check out online or the group on Facebook:

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2 תגובות

Ophelia D. Calvillo
Ophelia D. Calvillo
05 באפר׳ 2021

Congratulations. I wish you continued healing and overall wellness. I, too, fell into the pit of toxic tits. I had Mentor saline implants under the muscle from 08-28-2002 to bilateral capsulectomy on 01-14-2020 out of the areola with drains. It's been a long process. I ended up going on SSDI and now I'm fighting to get the label of "retired," off my credit report and redeem my "Ticket-to-Work." It's been so difficult trying to prove I am feeling better. Of course, I do still have issues, however, I have learned to manage them with the help of my local community with Sutter Health & UC Davis working together on this for a good Quality of Life. 🙂


Mica Craft
Mica Craft
16 בפבר׳ 2019

So very happy for you. I felt like I was reading my story

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