Tammi H.

I was born with a congenital defect of small, tuberous breasts.  In 2004, when I was 32 years old, I made a decision to get saline breast implants.  I  had always been self-conscious of the way I looked, especially in swimwear, since I was a teen.

The breast implants did wonders for my self-esteem and made me feel that my breasts were more normal.  I was told that it was advisable to get them removed in 8-10 years, if I was experiencing any problems, but that some women are able to keep them for a life-time.

Fast forward 3 years and I am pregnant with my third child  (only pregnancy with implants) and I had so many issues with my pregnancy….morning
sickness all day long for 4 months straight, issues with urinary retention that my doctors could not explain.  After having my child and feeling like I just couldn’t bounce back with my energy level, I had a physical.  I was told I had an enlarged thyroid and might have rheumatoid arthritis.  I was sent to an endocrinologist and a rheumatologist.  They told me I had Hashimoto’s and possibly the beginnings of arthritis.  After several years of being on thyroid meds with no improvement, I took myself off.  By that time, my hair was falling out, I was low in iron, I had no energy, I had strange rashes on my scalp and neck, I was gaining weight, I was freezing cold all the time, my vision got worse, and I had trouble concentrating (brain fog).

In 2013, I began having severe cramp-like sharp pains under my left breast that would literally take my breath away.  Two different doctors told me it was probably just scar tissue from my surgery.  I really just gave up trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
In 2016, one week after a mammogram, I began having severe pain in my right jaw and right side of neck.  I went to the chiropractor for 3 months, who could not help me but suggested I might have TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.  I also went to an orthodontist, who confirmed that I did not have TMJ.  I saw an article on Facebook about Hugh Hefner’s wife having implants removed because they were causing health issues and she referenced a Facebook group she had joined about Breast Implant Illness.  I wondered if the mammogram had caused a leak in my implants.  I immediately checked out the Facebook page and had a light bulb moment — literally thousands of women were experiencing the same exact symptoms as myself!  I spent the next 3 months having consultations and getting my insurance to approve this surgery, which was pretty easy once I was diagnosed with Grade III capsular contracture and severe pain which was documented on my medical record by 2 doctors.  Insurance did deny covering implant removal the first time, but with the encouragement of the National Center for Health Research, I tried again– my surgeon appealed for me and coverage was approved the second time.

I am pleased to report that 3 weeks post-surgery, 90% of neck and jaw pain is gone, my hair has stopped falling out, I’ve lost 10 lbs without trying, and the brain fog is almost gone.  The surgeon told me that the pain I was having was where the capsule had become adhered to my chest wall.  I am still having a lot of soreness/pain in the area he had to cut and scrape more.  But getting my implants removed was the best decision I ever made.  My worst decision was getting them in the first place.  My body apparently has been fighting these foreign objects for at least 10 of the 12 years that I had them, causing a major autoimmune response.