"The choice to re-implant after explant is not always completely clear. For someone to be presented with health evidence and choose immediately to go completely flat… it’s not that simple for everyone. I’m young. I don’t know how I’m going to feel if I go flat. That’s something I’m wrestling with."
Amanda Dolan’s journey toward BII began with cancer. The timing is never good for a cancer diagnosis, but for Amanda, it represented everything she had to live for – and everything she had to lose. Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2016. It was her son’s first birthday.
She would go on to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer, but that was just the beginning of her journey. She’d chosen to reconstruct with Allergan Biocell textured implants. By 2018, she was cancer-free, but still suffering. This time, the symptoms were different.
Every test came back normal. No food allergies were detected. She went to her primary physician for many tests, each time sure that something HAD to be diagnosed. She even opted for a PET scan to screen for cancer in other parts of her body. Nothing showed up. To the medical community, she was a person with phantom symptoms. She was given a clear bill of health time and time again.
The headaches, she says, are horrible. When they come, she can’t eat. The symptoms seem to come in waves, almost similar to a recurrent illness. One month she will be fine; the next, the malaise returns. Finally, she discovered the similarities between her suffering and breast implant illness (BII). She had beaten cancer – and now she was suffering from BII.
Thankfully, her physicians do not believe she is afflicted with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). Allegan Biocell textured implants have been recalled by the FDA due to their link to the lymphoma. Still, it seems pretty clear to Amanda that BII is present. She wants the textured implants removed as soon as possible.
Amanda has interviewed two physicians regarding explant. The main difference she sees in the two is how, if she chooses to re-implant, the implant will be placed. One advocates for expanders underneath the muscle; the other would place an implant over muscle. There is talk about en bloc capsulectomy, she says, but that will likely be her choice if she chooses to go completely flat. Fat grafting isn’t an option, as she does not have a high enough percentage of fat in any certain area of the body.
At this point, Amanda is at a crossroads. Does she explant and completely forego future implants, or does she choose a silicone or saline implant over the implant that’s proven to have a cancer link? With a goal of surgery by January 2020, she’s preparing to make the choice soon.