Gloucester, UK

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I had implants at the very young age of 19, with...

I had implants at the very young age of 19, with Transform in the UK. I didn't see a surgeon until my second consultation - I initially spoke to a sales person, then signed up to have the operation done. One of the 'pros' of implants that the sales person pitched: that they would help to protect from me breast cancer, as foreign objects (the implants) in that area would mean I would produce more anti-bodies. What a croc! And in my teenage state, I believed it. The sad thing is, my dad paid for the surgery and attended the consultation too - he never once tried to talk me out of it. I think he was trying to get one over on my recently divorced mother. Nice one dad!

I was then (and still am) 102 pounds, 5'3 and with a very slim build. Before surgery I was a 34B. I wanted to go up to a 34C, so had Allergan McGhan 300cc round textured silicone implants, over the muscle. If I'm honest, I loved it for about 4 years - I think it's a novelty more than anything - and for me, it was also being too young to really understand about self image and being comfortable in your own skin. After a couple more years, I had some rippling and could feel the rim of the implant on the bottom of both sides. Then five years ago, I began to notice a clicking sensation in the middle of my chest when I moved. Very hard to describe but it felt disgusting - like scar tissue was catching on the implant or something. Not nice. I also had a lot of random pains, terrible posture (when those bad boys are on your chest, you're not about to start sticking them out) and was generally just very aware and self conscious that these things did not belong to my tiny frame.

So, over the next 4 years I saw 3 surgeons in total - the first was NHS - as I was having some pain I wanted to get checked out. He had a good poke around and said there was nothing wrong, just a very thin capsule on one side. He said if I had them removed without replacement there would be nothing left as the implant had strectched out my tissue. So, that put at end to it in my mind - until - *fanfare* - PIP implants ALL over the news in the UK. God, I was so worried, I felt sick - at that time I didn't know what brand my implants were. And I didn't find out until 2 weeks later when I finally plucked up the courage to call Transform. Fortunately I wasn't among one of the women who had industrial grade silicon put into their bodies - honestly, these people. So little respect for fellow human beings! But it set me off on a journey of research about ruptures and complications and thankfully at 33, I no longer put vanity before health. Took a while!

I saw a private surgeon in Sheffield, who said if I had them removed with nothing in their place, I would be left with two "loose skin envelopes" - plus, he had no experience of explant surgery. I did a lot more research and then found James McDiarmid in Cheltenham - went for a consultation and was reassured. He assessed the placement of my nipples, the elasticity of my skin, asked about diet and lifestyle. Then gave me a realistic idea of what I could expect: I would look like a normal 33 year old woman, who had had a couple of children. I could live with that, so I went ahead with the surgery at the Winfield Hospital in Gloucester. I traveled 3 hours from Sheffield with my partner, who stayed overnight in a hotel while I was an overnight patient.

I went into theater at 10:30am and I was freaking out a bit - I cried as I felt the anesthetic kick in - what a wuss. The whole thing was over in a heartbeat - when I woke up I thought I was still waiting for the sedatives to take effect, then a nurse came over and adjusted my drains and I saw they were gone! It took about 3 hours to come round properly and my partner was allowed to come for a visit. I managed some food in the evening and was getting up on my own (carrying my drains) to go to the loo by about midnight. The hospital and staff were fantastic. Spotlessly clean ward and private room, good food and very attentive/friendly nurses.

I had dressings over my wounds but what I could see when I looked under my t-shirt was a big shock. I looked very empty and baggy and much smaller that before I had my implants in. I went home the following day with a big bag of codeine and paracetamol - not too much pain at all and with some very amusing anti-bloodclot socks on. I was well enough to have a cup of tea in the service station on the way home but sat in the back of the car with the seat belt over my waist and the top part of it behind me so it didn't touch my chest.

As I'm based 3 hours away from the hospital and clinic, my surgeon buried the knots and I changed my own dressings, which was a bit stressful. After 7 days, I removed the dressings and paper sutures and replaced them with micropore tape over the incisions for 6 weeks - which I changed every 10 days or so when it started to come away from my skin. I wore a soft sports bra to begin with, then a tight Macom surgical lifting bra 3 days after the surgery. I alternated this with a soft crop top type bra at night or whenever the tight bra felt a bit much. (I used the promo code mybreast on the Macom site and got 15% off, not sure if this is still an active promotion though).

I'm now 7 weeks post op and my breasts have "fluffed" a little - my surgeon did an amazing job and I'm over the moon with the result. They are absolutely tiny - like little bee stings and size 34AAA, but my skin has gone back really well and the size makes more sense for my build than those rock hard melons ever did. The micropore tape seems to have done a good job of keeping my scars nice and flat and I'm now using Fushi organic scar rebuild ointment - which my scars seem to like - and organic rosehip oil for some tentative massage.

I do wish I'd had more information post op about bras, when I could exercise again. My surgeon did a great job but was not so easy to get hold of post surgery - some kind of printed or online guide could have reassured me I was doing the right things I think, instead of feeling like I was guessing. In the UK, this surgery is not so common so it's harder to get good intel. Thank goodness for this site.

Apologies for such a long and laborious tale, but I wanted to reassure UK ladies (and all ladies) that no matter what some surgeons say, you can have them removed without replacement. The prediction I was given by a very reputable surgeon of "loose skin envelopes" simply was not true. I am so so glad I went for it - and I may have little bee stings instead of massive whoppers - but they're all mine.

Great Britain Plastic Surgeon

Surgery, clinic and results were fantastic. After care and information given (as a patient who lives far from the clinic and did not return for dressing changes) was not so good. I would have liked more guidance.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
3 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
2 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
3 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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