Post Silicone Implant Disaster, Fat Transfer Va-Va-Voom! - Charlotte, NC

I'm only 9 days post fat transfer to the breasts...

I'm only 9 days post fat transfer to the breasts and all I can say is, WOW. They look amazing. I just wish i could keep them as they are, but I've prepared myself for the inevitable volume loss over the next several months. I just wish this procedure was readily available and reliable back when I first got implants.

A little background:
After breastfeeding three babies, my breasts were tired and deflated and I just didn't like them anymore. After much research I chose a reputable plastic surgeon in my area and in 2003 I received saline implants. I enjoyed them at first but problems quickly began to emerge. Rippling, bottoming out and capsular contracture, to name a few. After a subsequent surgery failed to fix the problem, my surgeon threw his hands up in the air and told me it was the best he could do (unless I forked out more money).
Thus, I dumped him and found another surgeon whose best advertisement was his lovely assistant who came into the examining room during my consult, took her shirt off and showed me the prettiest set of silicone implants I ever saw. Boom, I was sold. The surgeon removed my salines and replaced them with Mentor silicones. Though they looked much more natural, though in reality they never really felt natural at all because, let's face it, they weren't! But I was happy enough.
Unfortunately, mere weeks after the surgery I feel very, very ill, and a year of many doctors and tests later I determined that it was the silicone implants that were making me sick, and in 2005 I had them removed (you can check out my reviews to read the whole story in detail). Once I had those sick puppies out, I began to recover. Though my explanting surgeon, Dr. Edward Melmed, did an excellent job with removal and lift, my breasts were left small and sad-looking.

Fat Transfer:

In the years following the removal I'd read articles about fat transfer to the breasts and fantasized about having it done but I was worried that the procedure hadn't been fully developed. The technique and retention rates seemed to improve over time, and certain surgeons stood out as above-average in their ability to obtain good results. One of these is Dr. Edward Bednar in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I live in California, so it took extra effort and expense to come all the way out to NC for the surgery, but I am so glad I did. After a lengthy phone consult with Dr. Bednar I flew out about a month later, had a pre-op appointment that same afternoon, and surgery the following morning. I also chose to have some of the harvested fat transferred to my face, mostly in the cheek area where age had caused the inevitable volume loss.

I won't say the surgery was a walk in the park (it was surgery, after all) and for the first week I looked like a cross between Jay Leno, the Joker and the Incredible Hulk, but the recovery has been relatively easy. Sylvia, Dr. Bednar's patient coordinator (and wife) was amazing. She was always available by phone, email and text to answer my many questions, and not only did she take me shopping for medical supplies and groceries, she and Dr. Bednar came to visit me at my hotel room. (By the way, I stayed in a suite at the Hampton Inn, conveniently located a few miles from Dr. Bednar's office and near a really nice shopping area with a Whole Foods, Dean and Delucca, frozen yogurt shop, etc. The suite was comfortable and quiet, with a fridge and microwave and excellent housekeeping service--I used a LOT of towels.) I hired a nurse for the first two days, but probably only needed her for one.

At nine days post-surgery, much of the swelling has dissipated and I am starting to feel less freakish. I only took pain medication twice, and then switched to Advil. My main complaints now are soreness in the lipo areas, but it's improving day by day. I've been doing a lot of walking and if I get a little winded (for example, after climbing stairs) everything swells up. Heat also really stimulates the swelling, especially my face, but it goes back down after I go inside and put my feet up.

A note on the compression garments: it was difficult to get the right fit for my body. I am tall, so the large size worked for my height but was too big for my width. The medium size fit width-wise but was too short. In the end I started wearing very clingy activewear with a high amount of spandex, like the kind for running, but to tell you the truth, I don't even wear them at night, instead opting for a pair of moderately clingy yoga pants. The tighter garments make me so uncomfortable I can't get a good night's sleep. There is are a lot of different opinions about compression garments. One prominent (and now retired) plastic surgeon says they are completely unnecessary and don't affect the result one way or another. He sited a study comparing those who wear them and those who don't and there was no discernible difference in outcomes. I do like to wear tighter options during the day, when I am more apt to be active and stimulate swelling.

Nine years later I started

15 days post fat transfer--so far, so good

Things are getting easier all around and I'm feeling much better. I'm still sore in the lipo areas (though more so in the morning) and the bruising is mostly gone. The bruising on my breasts is gone completely, and they have settled and softened somewhat. My face still looks a little weird but not so much that I can't go out.

Saw Dr. B before I left NC and he said the lumps and bumps I have here and there in the lipo'd areas are normal and will resolve over time. He was very pleased with my progress so far and feels that the final result will be excellent.

Still sleeping with my head elevated, and no,I don't wear the compression garment at night. Just can't relax with it on in bed. Keeping my fingers crossed that it won't matter. I do wear snug lycra workout pants during the day. talked to a girlfriend who had lipo and her doc said to use a rolling pin on her legs to smoothe out the skin! Sounds silly but I just might try it.

compression garment redux

Just received a message from Sylvia, Dr. B's wife. She was concerned that I wasn't wearing the compression garment at night and stressed the importance of wearing it 24/7 for four weeks. Rats. While there are several plastic surgeons who claim that it makes no difference in the long run, I will follow Dr. B's instructions and wear it for the required two more weeks like a good little lipo patient. :)

three weeks post-op and feeling good

My breasts continue to soften and settle, losing some of their torpedo shape. I like the size they are now, so it will be a little painful to see more volume go but I know that is likely.

The bruising on the lipo'd areas is almost gone, though there is still soreness. i've begun massage on my legs, which helps alleviate this.

Things are settling down quite nicely on my face, with the exception of two small but stubborn lumps. i'm looking less freakish and more natural as time goes by.
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon

I couldn't have asked for a better surgeon. Dr. Bednar is a true artist who really understands anatomy, as well as being patient, kind, reassuring, and committed to excellence. This man wants his patients to be happy with their results. He and his lovely wife and patient coordinator, Sylvia, along with the anesthesiologist and nurses made this experience the best it could possibly be.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (34)

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How long were you in pain in the breasts?
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Thanks for the update. Glad you're back home and feeling a bit better. Take it slow and do let us know how the rolling pin works! ;)
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Hi there I feel pretty good. My breasts are softening up and the swelling in my face is much better. Lipo areas still real sore but I guess that's how it goes. How about you? How are you feeling?
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I am feeling the same and better everyday :) My soreness is more so at night. I was pretty tired Monday due too busy weekend but better today after resting more yesterday. Have you found any post op hints or things that you are finding helpful in healing?
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Hi Cathy, I do use Advil, it helps keep the swelling and pain down. I also take tumeric and sour cherry supplements, which have good anti-inflammatory effects. I have been walking every day, which helps me overall, but not doing any cardio or weights. I do still sleep elevated, with a couple of pillows under my knees. I also have been doing some light lymphatic massage on my legs to help swelling. Dr. Bednar says it's okay to massage any lumps on the face or legs but to avoid that in the breast area.
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Hi! Thank you for sharing the tips! I think I will see if the local health food store has some of the supplements you mentioned. I am still wearing the garment but no longer the socks. Also, I will give the massage a try. Thank you again:)
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Thank you for sharing your entire journey with us on RealSelf. I can already see how helpful your story is to other members. I'm glad you got to do some fat transfer to your face too. (I was recently told I could use a bit of that myself!) Congratulations and please keep us posted as you continue to heal!
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I only wish other women would listen to our stories before they get their implants. Thank you for sharing your story. I am an explant and fat transfer story too after getting ill from my saline implants. Best thing I did for me was getting the explant after 11 years of having them in my chest.
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Thank you for sharing! I am glad that you are no longer ill and that you, too could have the fat transfer. I m so thankful that this type of procedure is available, today!
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I am very happy with my fat transfer.. But if I were to lose any of it I have learned to be happy with the all natural me :-) I too am thankful for this type of procedure. I went to my gynecologist in July and she braced herself as she was going to do my breast exam because she knew I had the explantation. She was pleasantly surprised to see such a cute chest..
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It is very encouraging for women who are struggling with the results after an implant removal to be able to have this type of surgery. Even though it's not been quiet two weeks and there is swelling and bruising, I feel more feminine already:)How long have you had your fat transfer? What were some post op things you did to help with your healing? I now down to only taking pain med in the evening as I will be returning to work tomorrow/ Wednesday. I have been doing light housework/ meal prep and cooking. ... nothing too strenuous. I went shopping sat, church on Sunday, and helped girlfriend with small amount of painting using a roller. I was Really tired today, so I cooled it. Waiting before I do light weights or exercises, but otherwise trying to be somewhat active, without being too strenuous. Would you say, you were as active ? Any thing you found helpful would be appreciated as I am seeking to maintain as much fat as possible and be healthy:) Like you, leading up to my implant removal I was ill, also. They are not for everyone as I have been learning. This procedure has been a blessing .
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I'm glad you are happy with your results and that you are comfortable with your natural self- if you should lose more fat. Hopeful though, that since you saw your gynecologist that you are several months past op and that your fat will stay:) blessings and good health to you:) as a woman, the procedure has helped to restore what was lost and has helped me to feel more like a woman inwardly.
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My ps had me eat lots of avocados. A well balanced diet. Lots of water. Vitamins are important. I hiked some before my surgery. Had lots of prayer going on from friends and family. I took it easy for 6 weeks after surgery. I am now starting to do some burpies and push ups. I walk my treadmill, do a little hiking. I take walks with my husband and dogs. My head and neck are still hurting some but other than that I am feeling much better. My ps thinks I will keep the majority of my fat and says I should not need another fat transfer. I am okay with out another one:-) I am going to be happy with me and thank God for a new lease on life. What kind of illness were you experiencing??
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I forgot to tell you that my explant was on March 3rd, took about 2 months to start feeling less sore where the fat was taken..
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Thank you for sharing healthy tips! I like avocados so I will look for some today and do some steady walking. Before implants out and leading up to explant I was exhausted and had zero energy.!!!!! Health was continuing on a down hill slope. I napped often. Brain fog , rash, problems in joints and function , weakness, chest pains. At night I had extreme night sweats across the chest region , and itching Rash. Functioning at work was becoming harder. Big difference after implants out, even though I did not care for the results:( They were truly making me sick. I don't think they make everyone sick, but my husband and girlfriends all saw the difference.
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Were your symptoms similar or worse? I was fortunate in that the surgeon who took my implants out, believed me and made the effort to remove them carefully. They were both ruptured and silicone. I am so thankful that they are out ! And thankful that today fat transfer was able to be used.
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I had a lot of similar symptoms and some worse ones like thyroid cancer and a rare form of cervical cancer. I have white spots on my brain. I am feeling much better as far as no more brain fog, I don't need to take naps. I don't have joint pain any more but I still have some swelling in my body. I hear it takes about two years before you start to feel a 100% better. I think it is ironic that my sister in law also ended up with a very rare form of cancer around 10 years after her implants. Her cancer was caught in the later stage. My cancers were caught in the very early stages . She still has her implants in :( I wish she would get them out of her! We were both very healthy vibrant women until we got our implants...what dummies we were.
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And I still have ringing in my ears off and on...
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I am very thankful your cancers were caught early and that your health is getting stronger everyday. PTL! You have been through a lot , and are a strong woman. I will keep your sister-in-law in my prayers for healing and wisdom. It's very hard to make a final decision to have implants out when they have been in your body for so long. It wasn't until I was sick of being sick and the comment made from my friend that led to seeking out help. When I was 20 they did not have the information out that they have today and i didn't give it a second thought when I had them put in. I was self conscious of my body image, not knowing any better!!!! . Unfortunately, I was a dummie too in that I didn't realize my natural breasts were the ones made for my body and that my body was normal and ok in its natural state. The one God blessed me with. Unfortunately, I had a misinformed view of my body image . In addition, I had no idea the problems that implants can cause some people. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me today of what The Lord has brought us through:) I will continue to think of and pray for your sister-in-law.
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That seems to be a symptom a lot of people have.
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Who can make a body more beautiful than what God can?...NOT! Only by the grace of God was my cancers found early :-) experience has turned out to help other women and so will yours. Everything happens for a reason and I am very thankful for this site where we can share our stories and get informed! I have made two new friends here in Colorado and one of those friends is going to have Bible Studies with me. I have had a chance to talk to awesome women on this site and I guess that was the reason for my most worst mistake I have made in my life :-) I give God the glory and the praise for my illnesses because through this season in my life I have made new friends and I would never have had a chance to talk to women like you if I did not have breast augmentation and an explant due to getting so ill with them in my body :-) Thank you for your prayers. I will also keep you in my prayers.
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Hi there, I had my explants in 2005 and I feel about 75% normal now. It took me a long time to get here but I am so grateful I am better. I was REALLY sick, sicker than most women get, so my recovery probably took longer. You will get better, too, slowly and surely, and someday the implant illness will seem like a bad dream.
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Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement! They mean a lot:) I haven't been in a women's bible study since last year! What fun ! This site is very helpful and helped me in making my recent decision. I didn't know anyone personally my age who could had a similar experience until I found this site. It's been a blessing!
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I agree, what a blessing. I am so thankful to know that I was not crazy and that there are so many women out there in trouble with their health because of breast implants...makes me very sad when a woman decides to go ahead with breast augmentation and I only pray that they will not get ill from this decision. Even if the implants have improved which is what was told to me in 2003, yeah, right, I will never put anything in my body that does not belong there again...we have learned a very valuable lesson....and now we can all pray for each other and encourage each other to keep our heads up and feel comfortable in our natural skin :)
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It's very confirming to know that others have had similar experiences and have gotten their health back or are in the process of getting better. I lived in denial for a long time, not to mention had feelings of being embarrassed , and minimized them for a long time. It's validating to hear from others and see that health can improve:) thank you for sharing !
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