Removal of PIPS and Continual Breastfeeding - London, GB

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I had PIP implants inserted in 2003 from Harley...

I had PIP implants inserted in 2003 from Harley Medical Group, UK. I never had any problems with the implants and was happy with the result. 2 years ago when the PIP scandal hit the UK I obviously got very anxious and worried. I had successfully breastfed my daughter and was breastfeeding my twins at the time it hit the news. I contacted my original clinic and went to see my NHS doctor and everybody assured me there was no rush to remove the implants if there were no signs of problems and that breastfeeding was fine. I decided as my twins were very little and still reliant solely on breastmilk to wait until they weaned and then have them removed. My boys turned out to be reluctant weaners and my boobs started to change a little. One of them had slight distortion and I was starting to experience odd skin rashes and tiny lumps in my breast. I researched removal of PIP implants and the name that kept coming up as an expert surgeon in the field of removal was Mr Richards from Aurora clinics. I also contacted my original clinic but found them to be very unhelpful. They also wanted to charge a lot more £3500 to remove the implants and said there was up to a 6 month waiting list. Mr Richards dies subsidized removals of PIPs for £2700. I was given a consultation relatively quickly and was instantly put at ease by him and Aggi his nurse. We talked about the fact I was still breastfeeding all be it once a day and they agreed the procedure could go ahead and I could return to breastfeeding a week after the op. We scheduled a date there and then and a month later I traveled down to London to Highgate hospital for my op.

On the day of the op I was admitted at 9.30am and straight away was seen by the anethetist, a nurse, Mr Richards and Aggi. I was second on the list and went in to theatre at 12.30pm. The op was relatively quick and straight forward and I came round in recovery less than an hour later. I was shown my implants. The left was intact and the right had a small tear and some of the silicone had leaked out but luckily was still contained in the capsule. It was agreed that I was very lucky to get them out when I did. I hate to think what would have happened if I'd left them in longer! Mr Richards said he was sending the implants off for further analysis and tests. He said the operation had been a success and they had thoroughly cleaned me out.

After being taken back to my room I was left to come round a bit more. The pain was minimal. I had a compression bra on made by The Hospital Company and had surgical tape on but no drains. I was discharged home later that evening. I took it really easy for the next 48 hours as I felt so wiped out from the GA and the surgery but still the pain was minimal. All I needed was 500mg of paracetemol a few times a day. On the third day after the op I was starting to feel emotional and tearful but I put it down to the fact that I hadn't breastfed for a few days and was experiencing a hormone crash. I was also getting a little engorged with milk so called Aggi who said I could gently hand express milk each day. Other than that I kept the compression bra on for at least 23 hours.

I was scheduled a post op follow up 7 days later but got hit by the winter vomiting bug so had to cancel it! It really sucked to get something like that on top of the surgery as I was already feeling a bit low and tired. The post op was moved to 3 days later. I already had an idea how my breasts looked as I'd been hand expressing milk. They were small, deflated and very wrinkly and puckered. I didn't even take any photos in the first week as I didn't want to look at them :( I felt better obviously for having the toxic implants out but also went through a bit of a mourning process and having to have acceptance of my new shape. I'd been told that I was likely to look empty and yes, that's exactly how I looked! My implants were roughly 250cc over the muscle and the original idea for having them was to give me the fullness I was lacking. I am very tall and slim and just wanted a bit of shape! I weigh 125lbs and am 5'9"s. It was a hard adjustment to go back to such a willowy slim physique but my husband said I still looked great and even more slim.

I'm now at exactly 2 weeks post op and have started breastfeeding the twins again. There is still milk there. I'm not too worried about the shape of the breasts still as I know they are likely to go through yet further changes as I continue to feed and then more changes when the twins eventually wean and the milk dries up so now is not a true reflection of the end result. So far the skin has started to contract a little and they don't look as wrinkled or indented unless I raise my arm. Later this evening I will actually brave taking my first lot of photos and will upload them tomorrow. It's not pretty but it is thankfully all me again and for that I am happy and grateful.

I hope my story will help others making the decision to explant. I'd like to thank everyone else who has shared their story also as these have been invaluable to me in the early hours of the morning when I was feeling anxious about my op and what the future would hold. I think my biggest fear was not coming round from the GA rather than the op itself!

Breast feeding - a little more info

I've been discussing my continual breast feeding after explantation with some of the lovely ladies on other stories so will add a bit more info about myself here.

I am currently breast feeding my twin boys who will be 3 in february. They are not reliant on my milk anymore but have proven to be very reluctant weaners. I'd been putting off the removal of my implants for ages thinking I'd do it one the boys weaned. Well, that day never seemed to come so I decided to investigate further about removal and continual feeding. Most doctors I spoke with wanted me to wean totally and have stopped feeding for several months. I researched for as many cases as I could about maintaining a feeding relationship after surgery and felt informed enough when I approached Mr Richards for my consult. He was great and had no problem with what I wanted to do. His only concern was that I temporarily stop feeding for a week after surgery to give me time to heal. I agreed. I fed on the morning of my op. To be honest the first couple of days post surgery I didn't feel like feeding even if I was allowed as I felt too groggy and tired. By day 3 I was missing feeding and it broke my heart when my boys asked for milk. I didn't feel I could go through stopping feeding plus I was experiencing mild engorgement. I've been a mastitis sufferer a fair few times in the past and as a breast feeding peer supporter I'm very aware that milk stasis and engorgement can be contributing factors. I called the nurse and told her what was happening. Both her and my surgeon said I could hand express for comfort. I asked if I could feed and they said not yet. When I asked the reason behind their decision they said it was risk of infection. I didn't ask for further clarification. I had a good think about it and discussed with my husband the risk of infection (which I was assuming they meant entering via the nipple from the babies mouth) against the risk of mastitis and a breast infection developing from within. I also called up a La Leche League leader who had undergone similar and fed straight after. I decided I would let my boys gently feed one at a time (I usually tandem feed) for a minute or two. My logic is that they are far more efficient than any pump or me milking my breasts which I felt would maul them far more than them gently feeding which is minimal invasion. The relief of the milk coming off was unbelievable and my endorphins picked straight back up :) We kept the nursing session short and I didn't feed again until the following evening. We have gradually progressed to longer feeding and sometimes twice a day and all is going fine. I do feel like my supply has dropped a little but I'm not too worried by it. I'm so happy that I have managed to continue to feed and still have those awful implants out. If this is something you are considering and a surgeon tells you it's not possible then well, you know it is! Every situation is different however but sometimes you just have to find that one person who supports your decision.

I was lucky my op was straightforward. I didn't have any drains, it was a straight removal with no lift and the incision was under the breast same as the original incision. My implants were over the muscle. If anybody wants to message me further then I will help where I can.

Photos at 2 weeks post explant

As promised here are a few photos of what I looked like at 2 weeks post surgery. I didn't feel up to taking any photos prior to this. I'm quite happy with the result so far although I still don't have any fullness at all in the upper part of my breast. I don't know if this is something that gets better with time? I also haven't got any suitable pre op photos as I thought my boobs looked big and ugly and I didn't want to photograph them :( My surgeon did take some photos just before my op so I will try and get a copy of them.

Gah :(

Just looking at my photos now and I look way too skinny and saggy :( I struggle to put weight on and have lost quite a bit recently with worry about op and also the winter vomiting bug. I'm 5'9" and weigh 125lbs... I know it's underweight and I'm trying to bulk up a bit. Maybe this is part of the reason I don't have any fullness in the upper part of my breast? Not liking how I look right now :(

Three weeks on...

So I'm now at 3 weeks post explant and nothing major has happened. I'm still changing the tapes every 4 days and in the compression bra for about 23 hours a day. Breastfeeding is still going well. I've taken a few more photos but can't see a huge difference at this stage. If anything I think I look smaller. On my left breast there is still a very obvious indent which I think you can see on the photo plus the shape looks a little different at the bottom. I'm feeling more confident about how I look now. I'm also looking forward to getting out of compression bras in the next few weeks to wear something a little prettier occasionally as at the moment I feel limited on some of my tops as the very industrial bra straps are too obvious so I'm having to be careful what I wear!

4 months on

It's been a while since I posted on here and I noticed I had a few comments so I'm back to update. I feel my breasts have really settled now and I'm still happy with the overall result. I got myself measured for new bras and I'm bigger than I thought. I measure at a UK 32C. Finding bras that work and look good is the hard bit though. I have a lot more breast tissue in the bottom of the breast and hardly anything in the top section. Balcony style bras look ridiculous on me and gape everywhere, full cup bras are a no-no as I don't have enough volume in the top area and they stand away. I've found that basic Tshirt bras give the best look so I'm sticking with them! I'm not buying padded, just moulded cup but have bought one gel bra for when I want the big cleavage! I'm still breadtfeeding my twins. They turned 3 last month and still are showing no weaning signs. I can honestly say now that I don't think the surgery affected feeding at all. I still have some loose skin around my nipple area but I think that it's still from breadtfeeding. Whether it will contract back when I stop I don't know but it's not something that hugely bothers me and not something I would have corrective surgery for. I've posted a few more photos taken a couple of days ago.

Mr Richards is a very accomplished surgeon and has undertaken many explantations of PIP implants. Both him and his supporting staff were fantastic throughout the whole process. I wouldn't have trusted anyone else as much. I would highly recommend him. He also removes PIP implants at a subsidized rate. My previous clinic who inserted them wanted to charge a lot more for removal.

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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