Starting my Explant Journey! - Cleveland, OH

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When I was 23 , I was a 32 B with a tiny upper...

When I was 23 , I was a 32 B with a tiny upper body but with womanly hips. After much research, I made the decision to have 325cc HP mentor smooth silicone implants. My mother has implants, as do both of my grandmothers (all still in tact after 20+ years) so that gave me more peace of mind that my decision wasn't completely crazy. Never had any complications with the surgery, my recovery was way too easy and my breasts turned out exactly what I wanted. I love(d) them. Looking back, I got really ill about 5-6 months after implantation (night sweats, anxiety, weight loss, fatigue, etc). Shortly thereafter, these symptoms just disappeared.

Fast forward 9.5 years later and it all started to change. I used to considered myself an extremely healthy person. Never sick, very healthy diet, love being active and my body showed it. It all started with fatigue and bloating. I was convinced it was hypothyroid problems so I completely eliminated gluten and amended my diet to non-inflammatory thyroid-friendly foods. My gut felt better, but the fatigue persisted. I would work lying down from my couch (work from home) and would have a two hour afternoon nap to try to help the fatigue, yet it was futile. The night sweats and weakness started shortly after that. Climbing stairs was impossible. My daily walks ceased and I bought a bicycle just so I could try to still be active. I'd be out of breath by the end of the street. I could no longer hold a blow dryer, so I chopped my locks off and donated them. My social life suffered as I had no energy to leave the house. My GP was not helpful at all as all of my vitamins and minerals levels are perfect and she kept suggesting anti-depressants. Um, no thanks. I sought the advice of an alternative doctor and after substantial testing, it's found that my adrenal glands are kaput, I have lingering Epstein Barr virus and systemic candida. I've been on meds and IV therapy to eliminate candida and rehabilitate my adrenal glands and my energy levels are slightly elevated, but not sufficient to live a normal day-to-day life. Yet the weakness is still there (especially my arms) and opening up a pill bottle is challenging most days. I have been consistently doing infrared saunas, which I have found to be helpful. Tried colonics, massages, acupuncture, reflexology. Eat 100% organic, high in veggies and fibre, no sugar/yeast-free diet. I'm at my wits end here as I'm 34 and this is no way for one to live.

Back in November the sharp pains in my left breast started happening. Ultrasound shows all is good. But the light bulb went off and the Googling (I've become a master) started with any connection with silicone and fatigue, weakness, breast pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, swollen glands, night sweats, hair loss, brain fog, memory loss.... Bingo!! I'm realistic to know that this may not be the answer to my illness(es), but my goodness, having these babies removed can't hurt.

I live in Canada and the provincial government covers (as far as I know) explant surgery. I have researched surgeons and it's quite shocking how they all are just interested in reimplantation and the wait for appointment times for explant solely are ridiculous. These are my breasts and I'd feel much better going under the knife with someone who is experienced in explants/reconstruction, understands the toxicity of silicone, and is not going to pressure me into putting new ones in for fear of the negative outcome. I have decided to have my procedure with Dr. Feng and asked for the soonest appointment (February 12th). I have also elected to have the fat grafting in conjunction, assuming I have sufficient body fat.

This site has helped me tremendously so far in knowing that I'm on the right path and I thank you all for that. Hopefully my journey too can help someone else make a more informed decision.

No fat grafting, only explant.

Unfortunately Dr. Feng does not think it's wise to have fat grafting done at this time as she'd rather see the results post-surgery once I've recovered and fluffed. She was also concerned with my fatigue and recovery that it may be too much for my body to handle two procedures. I have limited fat to work with (none when I am more physically active), and I was more worried about the Lipo procedure than this is probably for the better. 13 days to go...wish it were happening tomorrow!

Almost there!

My goodness...Its less than a week away and I don't think this all has really hit me yet. Absolutely sure about this decision, yet I have no idea what to expect in terms of how I will feel about myself post-op. I am really happy with my current breast size and not exactly looking forward to itty bitties. Let alone having my wardrobe altered. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised!

I've been taking my multi-vitamins that Dr. Feng sent. So far extremely impressed how they have handled everything. Top-notch service. Started the 7 day salicylate-free diet. Being gluten-free and a veggie lover on top of this is not fun nor easy at all!

I've ordered two Marena surgical bras and picking up some bio oil and silicone sheets for the eventual scar healing. Planning on having all laundry and cleaning finished before my trip so I come home with nothing to do but rest and recover. Any other tips?

When is reality going to set in?

I have three more days left with my size Ds. Going to be so sad to see them go, yet I'm feeling way too calm to have any worries. I have no anxiety whatsoever and have somehow mentally convinced myself that this whole process is going to be a piece of cake. I'm happy with my body the way it is and I don't want small boobs at all...why am I not getting upset?! Why am I not freaking out?

Arrived in Cleveland

Arrived bright and early this morn. Did an ultrasound mapping at the Cleveland Clinic. What a great bunch of people and such a clean, organized hospital. Implants seem to be intact from what they can tell...nothing outside of the capsule, at least. Lymph nodes are clean.

Met with Dr. Feng and her staff and they completely put me at ease. Firstly, the facilities are immaculate and you feel very much at home. The staff all went above and beyond to assist and make you feel comfortable. From the cucumber water to the heated blankets and neck wraps...but I guess that's also what you pay for. Dr. Feng was very approachable and understanding and listened to everything I said. After hearing my story, she reaffirmed me that I was making the right decision and felt confident that my health issues would improve. She noted that I have a good amount of breast tissue and anticipates me being a size B. Did my pre-opblood work, pregnancy test and EKG with nurse Adrienne -she's a doll. Filled my prescriptions (antibiotic and diflucan, which Dr. Feng kindly extended my existing prescription). Off for dinner. Surgery is scheduled bright and early tomorrow morn at 6:15am. Glad to have it early in the day, so I can start my recovery!

It's game time!

Here we go!

Surgery done!

Surgery went well. All of the ladies took great care of me. Lisa did all of my pre-op preparations. Soon enough I was whisked in the surgery room - very clean and all of the bells and whistles looked to be state of the art stuff...that was reassuring. I don't recall even seeing my surgery room when I had them put in, so in a weird way, seeing the room put me at ease. Bed was so very comfortable as I had pillows supporting everything, blankets and two pairs of socks (my feet are always cold). A few minutes later IV inserted with with special juice and it was sleepy time. Two hours later all was complete. Dr. Feng said all went well. I had 350cc implants. Upper chest was achey as apparently my pockets/capsules(?) were quite high.

Came back to the hotel and upper chest pain went away. Yet soon enough lower left breast towards centre had bad pain. Right side totally fine. Apparently it's the drains and that side had a bit more of a capsule. Took a Celebrex (I tried to do this without pain pills) and feeling much better, yet the left side still aches. I'm praying tomorrow will be a breeze (hahah have to keep optimistic!), yet I know most injuries are worse the next day.

Been eating a lot today (Dr. Feng sends you home with excellent organic soup and salad) and taking all of my multivitamins, bromelian, antibiotics, and hourly dose of arnica.

All in all, no complaints. The ACE bandage is tight, but I've always loved bras that strapped me in, so all good there. It's been 8 hours in the hotel and have drained 40cc from left and 53cc from the right. Not sure if that's good, but I don't think it sounds crazy. I have no idea what size I am or what I look like as the wrap doesn't come off until the drains get taken sorry to disappoint with no immediate photos.

I want to thank all of you lovely ladies for all of the support with your stories and then your interest and concerns. You've helped my spirit tremendously and only helped me to reinforce that I am making the best decision. Aww...for the first time in this journey I'm emotionally (but happy) tearing up! THANK YOU!!!

ps. Sorry if my posts are long, I would just rather be more wordy and give more information as hopefully my experience can help others.

Yesssss! Drains are removed!

Drains finally removed and I'm on my way back home. What a pain the drains are when it comes to wearing clothing and the uncomfortableness of them. But I can tell you that after seeing how much fluid comes out from surgery until this morning (day 4), I'm so glad that I withstood their annoyance. I have no bruising whatsoever. Minimal swelling, if any. I think the majority of this is due to the vitamins, minerals, and keeping a healthy diet. I only put ice on once due to the pain of the drains....but it didn't do anything as the gauze, compression band, and surgical bra were too much insulation for my skin to get cold. To any pre-op ladies out there, I highly recommend that you adhere to a low salicylate diet and look into high quality multivitamins tailored for surgery, arnica and bromelian. I also slightly increased my regular probiotic intake to help support my liver and elimination and fend off infection. I doubled my water intake. My belly is slightly bloated, but I'm sure that will subside once I get home and back to my regular routine...which will absolutely not include watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathons.

A little too early to judge about health symptoms at this point, but can absolutely say that my back, shoulder, and neck pain has pretty much vanished. My poor chiropractor and RMT will now have to get part-time jobs to supplement their income. I absolutely can't wait to do yoga or swing a golf club and not have to worry about two bags getting in the way.

As for the self-confidence, I can't say how I feel yet as I have not spent any time alone with my new/old friends. But I think it's all of a matter of what's in your mind. I've been strapped up looking flat as a board wondering around Cleveland, and I don't feel any less of a woman than I was before. But I wholeheartedly believe that sexiness comes from within and if you love yourself and are comfortable in your skin, that confidence will exude and can seduce a man (or woman) more than anything else can. No regrets here.

I will post some more photos of pre-op and progress shortly!

More pre-op photos

Pics of surgery (sorry if a little graphic)

Day 4 post-op photo

My first peek since surgery. Looking a little deflated on top, but I've been wrapped tightly in a band and surgical bra. Hopefully things will fluff out when I can stop using the compression bandage in two weeks.

Second thoughts...

Well, I have finally had my breakdown. I went to Victoria's Secret to try find some new bras and just lost it in the changeroom. None of the dozen bras that I tried on fit ... I sat there with the help button pressed for over 10 minutes, and no associate seemed to notice. Probably for the best, because the tears were just streaming down my face. I'm having a really difficult time adjusting. My skin is saggy and wrinkled. I have zero tissue above my nipple that it is just an indentation. My breast bone sticks out further than my breasts. I've barely left the house and luckily when I do I am bundled up in a winter coat. I know I'm only three weeks post-op, but I'm starting to question if I've made the right decision. I don't know if and when the 'fluffing' occurs, or if my skin will retract, but it can't happen soon enough.

Feeling a bit better..

I want to thank all of you for your kind words of encouragement and support. I've shed a few tears and was in a little depressed slump. I know I was being pretty hard on myself, but all of this has been such a drastic change. One of the more difficult being that nobody knew of my implants, and it is blatantly obvious that I've gone from being large to flat chested. Wearing the padded bras and extra inserts has only brought back memories as to why I had an augmentation to begin with. I have tried to avoid looking in the mirror, but I know this can only go on so long. I don't mind the way I look naked straight on, but the side view I am definitely not at peace with yet. Depending on how I am sitting or move my arms, the upper pole area is completely deflated and looks worse than rippling of implants ever would and my nipples have a tendency to sink in. I haven't yet taken a photo of this, but believe me, it's there. So in the meantime, I'm trying to keep my shoulders back (to visually tighten the chest skin) and have been massaging twice daily with bio oil. I am still quite sore and tender to be able to start any excercise. I know that our breasts will change over the upcoming weeks and months, I just don't know if it is realistic to think the skin will tighten up enough to prevent this rippling effect.

Health-wise the past two weeks have been worse than pre-explant. The fatigue is back with a vengeance. 11 hours of sleep at night plus an afternoon nap. I'm not sure if this is due to my body trying to readjust itself or if my illness was just non-implant related....only time will tell.

Sorry to be a negative nancy right now... But I'm just being real and honest about my feelings. I know things will get better soon; I'm just impatient dammit!! :)

2 weeks post-op. Removal of compression bandage

4 weeks post-op

6 weeks post-op

Breast tissue has tightened up slightly and no longer am feeling achiness from surgery. The past week my fatigue has increased and now only 2 out of 7 days have been good ones. I've ramped up the detoxing (infrared sauna 3x week, Epsom salt bath 3x, clay bath 1x). I'll also be starting high dose vitamin C IV therapy at the suggestion of my alternative doctor. Not sure if any of this will help, but at this point, I have nothing left to lose.

Positive news..

I saw my rheumatologist today for the results of my updated bloodwork and she said all of my antibodies are completely normal. Previous to the explant, she had concerns over lupus and was relying on the antibody levels of this blood work to give me a diagnosis. All clear! She was curious as to what I have been doing differently from the previous bloodwork and I just explained that everything has been consistent, yet I removed my silicone implants. I told her that after thorough online research, it seemed to be the highest plausible cause for my health concerns. She laughed and tried to tell me that my beliefs were very dated as 'they' found there was no correlation with silicone and illness over a decade ago. I quickly put her in her place (which felt pretty awesome, I must say). Also advised her to keep it in mind if she has any current or future patients with implants and she graciously obliged. Feels good to spread the word!

Since surgery, I've had no night sweats, sharp breast pain (non-surgically related) and the glands in my neck are no longer swollen. My glands have been consistently enlarged since I've had my implants put in and my doctor always said not to worry as it was just scar tissue likely from strep throat (which I was also chronically plagued with right after implantation). So I think this is a huge sign. Very strange to feel my neck without bulges! Just need to tackle the fatigue and memory/brain fog so I can feel human again. Crossing my fingers that all of the detoxing and the IV therapy does the trick. It's like attrition warfare. If I keep at it, the buggers are going to eventually have to give.

Just over a year post-surgery

Unfortunately the explant did not improve my health. Shortly after surgery, I felt a bit better. Yet, subsequently, my symptoms progressed and were accompanied my significant neurological problems including paralysis. Several trips to the ER and nobody could help me, they pretty much thought I was mentally creating symptoms as I "looked healthy" and my blood work was perfect (it still is!). In October 2014, my naturopath sent my blood work to IGeneX labs (not the CDC test as it is NOT reliable) and I tested positive for LYME DISEASE. All of that arm tingling and buzzing? Oh ya, that's lyme. Hair loss. Fatigue. Shortness of breath. Heart arrhythmia. Cognitive dysfunction. Candida. Thyroid issues. Adrenal fatigue. This disease has rocked my world in every way. I'm still off of work and actually horizontal as I type this, as I spend most days.

I really wish that I could have had a fantastic explant success story, but I my lesson is to follow your gut if you think removal is the right decision, but don't be hard on yourself if it is not the answer to your health problems. All things happen for a reason. Sure there are days where I absolutely miss my substantial cup size, but right now my only concern is getting my life back. I wouldn't doubt it that the surgery hindered my health (it's a lot to endure when you are chronically ill), but the lack of foreign objects in my body has likely allowed my body to concentrate on fighting pathogens. I do have 4 visible scars - surgery plus drains (the whole reason I went to Dr Feng was to have minimal scarring) and have not yet had the confidence to let anyone see my body.

I rarely go on this site as all of my time is dedicated to getting my health back and researching this horrific, rarely publicized or recognized disease. Yet if you do send a message, I will try to respond. Or feel free to follow me on Insta ... Healing lyme
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon

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