Johanna R.'s Story
“They impacted my everyday life. To the point where I had to plan how to use my energy in a normal day. I'm a mother of two young children and some days when I was at my worst I couldn't take care of them on my own. I also had to stop exercising because if I did too much, I would end up with a migraine and blurry vision. I spent many weekends and even my birthday at the ER and had doctors appointments every month.“
Johanna’s breast implant illness symptoms manifested about eight months after implanting and got progressively worse from there. Her symptoms varied in type and severity, including breathing issues, chest pain, anxiety and brain fog. After running multiple tests to determine what was wrong and receiving the same inconclusive result for each test, Johanna knew something needed to change.
Tell us about your explant journey.
I made the decision to get implants after I breastfed my babies and wanted to do something for myself to start my new chapter of life after divorce. I had to learn the hard way that implanting 2 objects made of 40+ toxic chemicals and heavy metals placed in my body could cause problems.
Soon after I had them done, I got a hematoma (inner bleeding) and started to develop capsular contracture (hardened scar tissue). My left side was always tender but I was happy with my new boobies and didn't want to have them replaced. In August of last year I started getting leg cramps, joint pain, and vertigo and doctors told me that it was because I was anemic. I started taking supplements and my anemia slowly resolved but my symptoms got progressively worse and in October my health started to rapidly decline. I developed high blood pressure, my limbs were going numb, I had blurry vision, migraines, tremors, brain fog, just to name a few and was diagnosed with bell's palsy. I had over 27 random symptoms that were plaguing my everyday life.
I saw numerous doctors and took test after test which all came back normal. They told me that it was anxiety. I felt helpless so I started doing research and found a FB group with over 136,000 women with similar symptoms. I scheduled my explant and didn't look back.
My surgery went over time and took 4 hours because the implants were so stuck that they had to be scraped off my ribcage. It turned out that both sides had capsular contracture, one more severe than the other. I'm so relieved to have them out of me and to feel at home in my body again. I still have symptoms and don't expect an overnight miracle but my vision is clearer, I haven't had any joint pain, and no headaches. I'm just happy and grateful to start my healing journey and I have a whole new appreciation for my natural itty bitti boobies.
What type of implants did you have?
Allergen smooth 330cc
What surgeon did you explant with?
Dr Tancredi D'Amore
When did you begin to experience symptoms?
I developed capsular contracture right after implanting, but my bii symptoms started to show after 8 months and progressively got worse at month 10.
What symptoms did you have?
Muscle weakness in face, arm, and leg
Numb limbs and tingling fingers
Joint pain (left hip and knee, wrists pop all the time)
Easily get sick / infections (uti)
Reacting from meds and foreign objects (copper IUD, lexapro, antibiotics)
Blood rushing feeling in arm and head
Migraines and headaches
Burning pain in implant
Chest muscle pain
Anemic resolved but still low
Excessive thirst that won't go away
Ringing in ears
Slow muscle recovery
Metallic taste in mouth
Menstrual cramps all month
High uncontrollable anxiety
New food allergies (pineapple, strawberry, banana)
Diagnosed with bell's palsy
Allergic to skin products
How did breast implants impact your life?
They impacted my everyday life. To the point where I had to plan how to use my energy in a normal day. I'm a mother of two young children and some days when I was at my worst I couldn't take care of them on my own. I also had to stop exercising because if I did too much, I would end up with a migraine and blurry vision. I spent many weekends and even my birthday at the ER and had doctors appointments every month.
What was surgery like for you?
It was a scary decision to make because my body was fragile going in and after having reacted to meds my doctors tried to prescribe me, I was worried about the anaesthesia and how I would react to the antibiotics. I did great but the antibiotics were tough on my system, but not enough for me not to be able to finish the course. My surgeon and his staff were absolutely amazing. After I found a team that recognized bii, I finally felt heard and hopeful that I could heal. It was a long surgery and I had severe inflammation in my breast tissue so it was difficult to remove my capsules but my surgeon was determined to perform an en bloc and succeeded.
How are you doing now, after explant?
Recovery from the surgery has been harder than recovering from the implant because of the fragile state I was in while going under the knife this time and because this was a more invasive procedure. I am 7 days post op and my joint pain is completely gone (the week before surgery I could only walk a few blocks with my kids because of the pain in my knee and hip). I used to have heart palpitations every day and I haven't had any at all since explant. My vision is also clearer. My body is still tired from what I've put it through but that's expected after major surgery and still having toxins in my system from the implants. I am going to give myself time and patience to heal from what I've put it through. I thought I would miss having big boobs, but I honestly Love what I see when I look in the mirror. My little boobs are perfect for me and I recognize myself again!
What would you like women who are considering explant to know?
It's important to find a skilled explant surgeon who is confident performing en bloc because the capsules need to be removed too. I talked to many other surgeons who told me they couldn't promise me that they could do an en bloc because it might not be safe, but that only means they are not experienced in that area and that you need to find someone who is.