Removal of Saline (Smooth, Under Muscle) Implants After 15.8 Years - San Diego, CA

I first want to thank every woman who has posted...

I first want to thank every woman who has posted their stories/photos on this site. It has been such a help and encouragement to me. I feel like I'm so prepared for explant surgery, because I know exactly what to expect – thanks to your stories.
I'm 35 years old, 5'8" and 145 pounds. I have smooth Saline implants, under the muscle for 15 years, 8 months. My original incision is one the nipple line. I don't remember my original bra size (maybe 34 small-B... they were little. Very little) - I'm currently a 34D.

Backstory:
In February 2001, I got my implants. I had just turned 20, and big boobs were so 'in'! I had been flat chested my entire life. I was teased, and very self conscious. My friends all had bigger chests than me, and I was so envious. Of course, as high school boys do, the boys ALWAYS talked about which girls had the biggest boobs, which girls had zero boobs – and that was how you were valued, so to speak. The guys I was interested in, were interested in Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra – anyone with big, fake boobs. After high school I was determined to get implants, so I could feel 'normal'. At age 19 I went to my first consultation in Beverly Hills. The surgeon was a relative of a co-worker of mine. His fee was WAY more than I could've ever afforded. I felt discouraged, and didn't see any other surgeons for awhile. At the beginning of 2001 I set up a consultation with Dr. Lori Saltz at La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre (La Jolla, CA). She said all the right things (according to my naïve 20 year old self). She was a woman who had breast implants herself. She said most of the women on her staff had implants. Implants are safe. There is nothing to worry about. Their number 1 procedure (at her facility) was breast augmentation. Saline implants were the 'safe' implants. The worst that could happen would be an implant would deflate - “but it's just salt water, and your body will absorb it. Nothing to worry about.” She VERY briefly mentioned capsular contracture, but followed it up with “although it's the most common 'side effect', it's VERY rare. I remember her saying “Some people choose to replace their implants every 10 years... but some women keep them for much longer. They are made from such tough material, they'll last much longer than 10 years.”. “Implants are totally safe, and most women you see around here have them”. I was working at Nordstrom at the time, and she said “Oh, I'll give you the Nordstrom discount ($125 off). I've done most of the implants on the girls at Nordstrom”. She said “You'll feel slightly uncomfortable for the first few days, but most girls are fine by day 3!”.
It all sounded too good to be true... how could I NOT schedule surgery right away?! This was going to be a breeze! (Ha!!!!!) I schedule my surgery during that same consultation appointment. My surgery was scheduled for about 2-3 weeks later.
The night before surgery I stood in my bathroom and cried. I was nervous, anxious, and scared. This would be the first surgery I've ever had, and I was nervous about anesthesia, and everything that comes along with surgery. My mom said “you can cancel, ya know?!”. I didn't want to cancel. I'd waited yearrrrs for these boobs, and I HAD to have them. Surgery went fine, but as soon as I woke up in the recovery room I felt awful. I couldn't stop shaking. I was in tremendous pain, and my whole body (jaw to feet) was shaking uncontrollably. The nurses wheeled me out to my moms car, and we drove home. The pain never eased. The next morning I had a post-op appointment. I don't remember the 45 minute drive down. I do remember laying in the surgery center crying & shaking. I was in pain, I was nauseous, and miserable. The nurses took me to a back room, gave me a suppository (for the nausea), and told my mom I was either having a reaction to the anesthesia or the pain meds. To be safe, I was told to stop taking the pain meds and to only take Tylenol. Remember... I JUST had implants put in less than 24 hours before – no pain meds?! I got sick on the way home, I got sick at home, I was sick all day and all night. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't get comfortable. Needless to say, the first week was misery. I remembered the Doctor saying it would be “uncomfortable” for a few days. What a load of crap. THIS. WAS. HELL.
My body healed, and I eventually went back to work.
Then the health issues started...

SOME of the health issues I've experienced:

The health issues:

About a year after I got the implants, I started noticing health problems. I didn't connect them to the implants... and neither did doctors, of course.
---I got my very first migraine a little over a year after implantation. I didn't think much of it. The migraines became a frequent thing, and I still get them occasionally. - Doctor recommended prescription meds... but wasn't concerned about the cause.
---I had odd weight fluctuations – losing weight (to a very noticeable degree), then out of nowhere I'd gain a noticeable amount of weight, without any drastic dietary changes. It went back and forth for years. - 2 Doctors noted thyroid levels were slightly off on blood tests. I went on meds... nothing changed, so I went off meds.
---My complexion has suffered as well – noticeable breakouts that would last months and months... then clear(er) skin out of nowhere. - Dermatologists & aestheticians recommended an expensive facial regime, and laser treatments with chemical peels.
---I developed cherry angiomas on my body, as well as keritosis pilaris on the backs of my arms. - Doctor said “it's common.” Internet searches show it could be caused by autoimmune issues.
---I look at photos of myself, and sometimes my face looks so puffy, it's shocking.
---I have been exhausted – to an extreme. A simple 1-mile walk leaves me couch-ridden the rest of the day. I feel 90 years old most days. I can't work, I can't really leave the house. When I do leave the house, it's a big ordeal and I'm exhausted for days afterwards. Stress makes the exhaustion worse. - I've seen quite a few doctors over the years, regarding the severe fatigue. EVERY blood test came back 'normal'. One naturopathic doctor said I had adrenal fatigue (without doing any bloodwork on me), and I needed to work on my stress. Primary care physicians, endocrinologist, and Internists said “It's stress. Do yoga, find ways to decompress. Avoid stressful situations. You're depressed – take antidepressants. See a therapist.” etc etc etc. I wasn't depressed, I wasn't overly stressed. The only thing making me slightly stressed/depressed was the fact that I feel like I'm slowly dying and NOT ONE doctor believed I had a medical issue, but rather a mental issue. I tried antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds 4 different times. My body HATED the meds, and things only got worse.
---I do suffer from anxiety – even as a child I suffered from mild anxiety. The anxiety got worse, and worse the years after implantation. I would now describe myself as extremely anxious. I suffered my first panic attack about a year or so after implantation. The anxiety became debilitating. It didn't help that I physically felt awful, and couldn't find answers or help. I heard the word “hypochondriac” more times than I can count. The unknown, regarding my health, launched the anxiety to a ridiculous level – add onto that the many doctors who kept telling me “You're fine. Bloodwork is completely normal.”
---My hair falls out like crazy. It's everywhere – in the shower, on my pillow, on the floor throughout the house, stuck in every brush/hair band... it's surprising I have any hair left. I used to have healthy, strong hair... those days are long gone. My hair is thin and brittle.
---I have a sensitivity to all prescription meds. My body doesn't even tolerate birth control (I've tried several types, until my ObGyn finally said “I don't think your body will ever accept a BC pill.”). Every anti-anxiety/anti-depressant the doctors recommended (to help my “stress and fatigue”) gave me a reaction.
---Brain fog became a big problem. My memory didn't seem as strong as it used to be, and most days I felt groggy and 'off'. I tried to convince myself that's just what happens as you get older.
---I'm very sensitive to smells, sounds, temperature, and light. Strong perfume, candles, or chemical smells gives me an awful headache/migraine within minutes. I never had that problem before implants – I worked in a department store, and used to love smelling all the perfumes at the nearby counter.
---I developed endometriosis, uterine fibroid, and ovarian cysts. I had surgery for that almost 9 years after implantation.
---Odd issue, but worth noting... my left breast developed a mild capsular contracture. On that same side, I've noticed in the past few years, that armpit has a much stronger odor than the right armpit. Might be coincidental... probably not!
---I developed food allergies and sensitivities. I can no longer eat gluten, and have been gluten free for 4+ years. I have a very sensitive belly, and have to be careful of everything I ate.

These are just SOME of the issues I've dealt with in the years since implanting. None of these health issues started before implants. If you've done any research on Breast Implant Illness, you'll see that many women have suffered these same ailments (plus more) after implanting. Breast Implant Illness is REAL.
I'm 10 days away from explant surgery, and I'm praying I'm one of the lucky women who sees some health improvement after the implants are removed.

Explant kit :)

Here are a few of the 'necessities' I've purchased for my explant.

Vitamins/Supplements:
- MegaFood Zinc tablets
- MegaFood Ultra C-400 tablets
- VitaMedica Bromelain with Quercetin
- VitaMedica Arnica Montana
- Extra Strength Tylenol
- Extra Strength Tylenol PM

Burt's Bees Baby Wipes (for the days I don't feel well enough to shower)

Post-op Bras:
- Black: Jockey Sport zip front compression bra. (from Macy's)
- Pink: Playtex Play Funwinder Bra, back closure compression bra. (from Macy's)

Front closure jammies/loungewear:
- Feather Print: Gilligan & O'Malley button front short sleeved top, and shorts (SUPER SOFT!!!! from Target)
- Black Print: Gilligan & O'Malley lightweight robe/wrap (great material! from Target)
- Navy Blue: Nordstrom Lingerie button front long sleeved top & pants (SUPER SOFT!!! from Nordstrom)

I have all of my favorite DVD's set aside, ready to play.
I have my favorite cozy quilt washed & ready.
I've premade 2 different types of soup (using homemade bone broth), and some healthy chili (veggies & meat... no beans). The soups and chili are individually portioned out and frozen, ready to be reheated.
I've printed medication charts, to keep track of what meds I've taken at what time.

Explant is this Friday, and it feels good to have everything prepared and ready!!!!

The consultation

I first started considering explant a few years ago. Something in my gut was telling me to have the implants removed. I did a tiny bit of research, but quickly found out there was no way we could afford that surgery at that time. September 2015 that feeling started coming back. I NEEDED to get the implants out. I started doing research again, and discovered the many forums talking about Breast Implant Illness. A wave of emotion ran over me. FINALLY!!! I had some answers. I knew my health issues were related to the implants, and I definitely needed them out. I told my husband, "they will definitely be coming out next year (2016)". I dug deep into my research. I tried to get my insurance (Kaiser) to do the surgery, and after months of battling, they denied my request.
I contacted Dr. Feng in Ohio, and had a 20-minute phone consultation with Linda (the surgery coordinator). I loved everything I heard. It all sounded perfect... except for the price ($8450), the fact that I'd have to travel to Ohio, stay in a hotel, rent a car, and there was also a few months wait before she could do surgery. It obviously wasn't going to work for my husband and I.
I contacted quite a few local surgeons in the San Diego county area. Their prices ranged from $6500-$7500, which was still a lot (for us), but much more doable than $8450 + travel expenses. I contacted my original surgeon who implanted me (Dr. Lori Saltz in La Jolla). The surgery coordinator kind of laughed when I told her I thought my implants were making me ill. She said "if they're saline, that's impossible. It's unlikely even if they were silicon... but that would make more sense than saline.". Several times during the phone conversation she asked "Are you certain you don't want them replaced? Maybe with a smaller implant?". That bothered me, A LOT! I told her definitely not. Again, she brushed off the possibility that my implants could cause any health issues. I also found it strange that she said their office doesn't have my original records (from 15 years ago), because "We don't keep our records from that long ago". Shouldn't a medical office permanently keep records of the procedures they've done, and the patients they've serviced?!?!? Still, I considered scheduling a consultation with her (I don't know why!?). When I called a few days later to schedule a consultation, I felt ill as the phone was ringing. I KNEW I shouldn't be going there... so I quickly hung up.
After more research I stumbled onto Dr. Gregory Park in Oceanside, CA. I had seen his name several times, but kept passing him by because I (naively) thought that if I wanted the best doctor I had to go to La Jolla (plastic surgery capitol of the San Diego region). I called Dr. Park's office to enquire about implant removal. The girl that answered the phone was very kind, and compassionate. I spoke with my husband that night, and decided I wanted to have my consult with Dr. Park. I called his office again the next day to schedule my consultation.
My consultation was on September 20th. I was sooooo anxious leading up to it. I was anxious the night before, I was anxious on the ride to the appointment, and I was anxious walking into the office. I met Elizabeth (nurse) at the front desk, and was quickly checked in and led back to an exam room. I changed into my gown, still anxious. Dr. Park walked in minutes later (again with Elizabeth), and introduced himself. He said "So you're not feeling well and you want the implants removed? Let me guess: Extreme Fatigue? Brain fog? Muscle/Joint pain?..." I knew IMMEDIATELY he was the doctor for me!!!!! He didn't brush off the possibility that the implants were the cause of my issues. He said he's had MANY patients, especially recently, who have come to him for explant and they've all been feeling the same symptoms. He was patient, kind, soft-spoken, compassionate, gentle, wise... just the best guy ever! Elizabeth is equally as amazing as he is. He made sure to express that the symptoms may or may not disappear after explant... but that he was curious to see how I'd feel after having them removed. He NEVER mentioned having the implants replaced with newer/smaller ones. He understood what I wanted, and didn't push anything on me.
I looked at my husband (who was with me at the consult), and he nodded 'yes'. We both knew this was the doctor I'd been searching for.
I booked my surgery that same day, without any regrets!!!!

The Pre-op appointment

I had been curious about what the pre-op appointment would consist of... so in case anyone else is curious about their upcoming pre-op, here is a brief explanation of mine.

I had my pre-op October 10th. They like to do the pre-op around 2 weeks before surgery (mine was 11 days before surgery). It was a pretty quick, half-hour appointment. I was quickly checked in, and led back to a large exam room. I changed into my gown, and my surgeon and his nurse came in. We talked briefly about the surgery - my expectations, and recovery info. The surgeon then took a series of 'before' photos of me. I put my gown back on, and we chatted more about my surgery & results. My surgeon is sooooo kind. He kept reassuring me that my results will change (get better!) over time. He said "Avoid the mirror for awhile. Just don't even look at yourself! You might get scared at what you see at first! They'll change, don't worry!" I reassured him that I didn't care what the results were... I was just happy to have the toxic bags out of me! That's the honest truth too. I'm expecting the worse... but will be happy with anything, as long as I'm healthy!
After the quick exam with the surgeon, I went to a separate room with the nurse to finalize my payment, and review recovery instructions. She explained the surgical drains, and showed me how to empty them. We reviewed the medications I was prescribed, and she gave me my prescriptions to have filled at the pharmacy.
That was it! Quick, and easy!

2 days until surgery, and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!! I'm so ready!

,,, and they're out!!!!!!!!

Yesterday was my surgery day. It didn't go as well as I had hoped for. The surgeon and nurses were all exceptional, but my body reacted VERY badly to the anesthesia. It took them quite awhile to wake me up, and I ended up staying in the recovery suite hours longer than most patients.
I'm glad to be home, and resting in bed. I'm in quite a bit of pain, but haven't taken my prescription pain meds yet - only Extra Strength Tylenol.
Regardless of the anesthesia issues, and the fact that I'm flat as a board... I'm THRILLED to have the implants out, and on the road to recovery.

I'll update more when I'm feeling more comfortable (pain-wise).

The drains are out!!!!

I got my drains removed yesterday! HALLELUJAH!!!!!
I'll be honest with you, I passed out when the second drain was being pulled out. My husband was able to wake me just a couple seconds later, and I was fine within minutes. It wasn't painful, necessarily, just a very strange sensation and a 'sloshing' sound. It was too much for me. I've been quite woozy since surgery, so I knew the drain removal would be tough for me.
I slept great last night without the drains!!! I also feel much more mobile and free without the drains. I feel like the real healing begins now!
I haven't taken any post-op photos, but when I do I'll post them here. My boobs don't look good, at all, but I'm still thrilled to be all natural. No regrets!!!!
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