I’d like to share the story of one courageous reader of mine, Heather from Texas, who wrote up her story after I mentioned breast implants as a potential root cause on a webinar I co-hosted with my friend Christa Orecchio, the founder of The Whole Journey. Heather’s story is a poignant example of how breast implants can be a root cause for Hashimoto’s, and her journey might help many other readers who are considering breast implants, or who currently have breast implants and are still digging at their own root cause.
I am normally a very private person but I felt it important to open up and share this issue, as I know it is affecting many people around the world.
I grew up in a home where beauty and perfection were a main focus. As I entered my teen years, I noticed all the women on the magazines and what message of beauty was being communicated to me as a young girl. This and how women were portrayed in movies and TV as scantily dressed sex objects with big boobs drove a message home to me that I was not enough and did not measure up. I was a late bloomer and felt very insecure about the way I looked, and, to make matters even worse, I had a boy come up to me at school one day in middle school, lift up his shirt showing me his chest and ask if I was jealous, insinuating that his chest was bigger than mine! Ouch, that really sunk in and hurt a lot. Unfortunately, childhood situations do shape our self-image and stick with us for quite some time.
By the time I was 21, I still was only sporting a Double A and decided to undergo breast augmentation in hopes that it would help my self-esteem as a woman. At first I loved my new breasts, but, within 3 months’ time, I started to have panic attacks and really bad anxiety. I questioned if it could be from the implants, if something in them would affect me like this. I was told no, they were just saline water in a silicone shell and both were completely harmless. I just tried to deal with the anxiety and racing heart through prayer, eating healthier, exercise and applying the knowledge I had learned from studying nutrition as my major in college as well as my continued health and wellness studies on my own. I started seeing a chiropractor that said my issues were related to improperly functioning adrenal glands and gave me an adrenal supplement for support. This did help my anxiety and heart palpitations to go away. I figured I had found my answer to my health problems – my endocrine system. But I did not ask why my adrenals were failing. What could be the root cause to have my body malfunction like this in my early 20’s?
Shortly after this discovery and getting help with my adrenals, one of the implants started to leak and I started to feel extremely tired. As the years went by, I noticed I could not keep up with life’s tasks as I used to be able to.
I just counted it as getting older, as by now I had 4 kids I was raising, homeschooling and training to do chores. Surely, this would exhaust anyone. Then I started to feel achy all over, especially in my hips and down my thigh bones. The pain progressively got worse so that I could not sleep and developed insomnia. Mornings were extremely difficult as my joints were so painful and stiff that I had to use my arms to grab my legs and move them up and down just to be able to stand up. It was like I had to “oil the joints” just to be able to move in the mornings. My tiredness was extreme, and now I needed to take a nap to make it through my day’s chores.
Doctors had no answers. Some tried to say it was just in my head, others said it was just stress. Eventually I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, and hypothyroidism.
With my continued studies into health as a holistic nutritionist, I knew that there had to be a root cause to all these issues. I believe that if you give the body the proper nutrients, supplementation and exercise, the body can heal and regenerate healthy cells. Every cell is built out of what we eat, so this gave me hope that I could “re-create” a healthier me. I also learned along the way that to improve wellness, I needed to get the toxins and chemicals out of my life.
I knew I did not want to take prescription medication with all the side effects, as adding more chemical mess to whatever my body was already dealing with would not be helpful. Instead, I started to green up my personal care products and cleaning products, go organic and non-GMO with my food, and find the best quality supplements. I also decided to go to a naturopathic doctor who helped me increase my energy and relieve my pain to the point that I was able to function again, school my kids, and work my business. She had me using Young Living Essential Oils and supplements, along with some herbal supplements. I also started to do regular cleanses and detox protocols. I found if I did not do this, or if I forgot to use my oils, enzymes or sulfurzyme supplement, I would start to feel bad again.
About five years ago, the implant that had a slow leak finally ruptured, and I scheduled another surgery to have them replaced. At the time, I figured it was only saline water that was released into my body, no big deal. I was assured that the “new and improved” silicone implants were completely safe and FDA approved – and they felt nicer – no more “sloshing” feeling as I had with the saline. I decided to replace the saline with silicone.
My health started to decline almost immediately. I grew more tired and found it difficult to concentrate. My creative energy left me, which was making it hard to create content for my business. I started withdrawing from things I used to like to do and became extremely depressed with suicidal thoughts. I felt so frustrated with myself because I could not do the things my business associates were doing and creating. My mental energy was just not there, and my emotions were hard to deal with, too. I felt simply not good enough or smart enough to succeed at anything. My memory started escaping me, which was odd because I had always been praised for having a great memory and remembering where things were. But now I consistently would forget where things were, what words I was trying to say or not finish my sentence and the thought would be gone. I started to forget appointments and felt extremely exhausted to teach my classes. EVERYTHING started to OVERWHELM me. Phone calls felt daunting, creating content was out because my mind could not think of anything. Even thinking of what I needed to do for my business or my house would wear me out and I would need to go take a nap. I was mad at myself, I felt like I was becoming lazy. I have always been a hard working, driven person and could accomplish a lot. I had to let my business be put “on the shelf” and eliminate everything except the bare essential chores for survival, and still I was exhausted.
To others around me, I looked healthy and normal, and I was told all these symptoms were just because I was aging. But inside, I felt like I was an eighty year old in a thirty-five to forty-year-old body. I kept most of my symptoms to myself and did not let others know about the internal hell that I was experiencing daily, mostly because I didn’t want to burden anyone else. I know we all have our struggles and complaining accomplishes nothing.
By this point, I had also developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, leaky gut, and multiple food sensitivities. I was frustrated because I had cleaned up my diet a ton, eliminated my food sensitivities, completely gone chemical free with my makeup, skin care, hair care, body care, and cleaning products, and filtered my water both for showers and drinking. I eliminated all the known toxins from my life and added in cleanses, essential oils, enemas, oil pulling and castor oil packs, and participated in the Gut Thrive Program for healing leaky gut, yet my health declined. Although, I believe I would be much sicker had I not been doing all this.
I recently watched a webinar for Hashimoto’s with the Thyroid Pharmacist. In it, she was talking about different triggers and root causes and quickly listed implants as one of them. A light bulb went off. Why had I not thought to research further into my implants earlier? I guess because I kept being told that they were safe, non-invasive, and that the body would not be affected by them. Besides, many other people who did not have implants had these types of symptoms and ailments. But this time, it was like God said “enough suffering, it is time to research into this”.
After the webinar, I got online and typed in “Breast Implants and Hashimoto’s.” I came across a website that talked about Breast Implant Illness, and it had a list of symptoms that were most common among people with implants. To my amazement, this was me! These were not all random symptoms, unfortunately plaguing me, but they were all related to one root cause – breast implants!
I read on and joined a Facebook support group, and learned that implants are not just silicone, but made up of over forty different toxic chemicals, and this includes saline, silicone and the new gummy bear implants. They all have a “silicone” lining. I looked up each chemical individually and saw symptoms listed under the list of possible health concerns if exposed to this chemical, and lo and behold, all my symptoms could be attached to each of the chemicals in the breast implants! All the chemicals are petro-chemicals, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and carcinogens! Plus, the saline can harbor and grow mold, fungus, bacteria and viruses, and mix with the body fluids through the valve that tends to leak.
I realized that at the time mine started to leak, I started to feel extremely tired and got more symptoms from then on. I now knew I had to get them out ASAP! With all my health knowledge, I knew that our bodies are a complete systemic unit and whatever is inside them will transport all throughout the body.
To summarize all of the symptoms that I experienced after I received my breast implants, they include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Heart palpitations and racing heart
- Low blood pressure
- Light headed and dizziness
- Brain fog
- Poor memory and memory loss with short term memory failing (I thought I was developing dementia or Alzheimer’s)
- Trouble concentrating
- ADD (did not have as a child)
- Feeling overwhelmed easily over everything
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Hair loss with dry, brittle hair
- Dry skin
- Crepe-like, wrinkled skin (odd for someone in their 20’s through 30’s)
- 30 lb weight gain and could not lose it with lifestyle changes
- Increase in cellulite all over (cellulite is our body’s way of storing chemicals and toxins as far away from the organs as possible)
- No longer being able to multitask
- Burning sensation on and off in breasts
- Uncomfortable tightening of implants from capsule contraction
- Dark undereye circles
- Chest pains (this worried me that I was having a heart attack – I went to the ER once, but everything was normal)
- Adrenal fatigue
- Hypothyroidism, eventually Hashimoto’s (which is where the immune system is destroying the thyroid and is considered an autoimmune disease)
- Blurred vision
- Black floaters in vision
- Tunnel vision
- Burning dry eyes
- Chronic fatigue
- Epstein-Barr Virus
- Low back pain
- Liver pain
- Kidney pain
- Hip pain
- Numbness in hands and down arms at times
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (especially D, zinc, B’s, and magnesium)
- Vertical lines and ridges in nails
- Leaky gut
- Food sensitivities
- General overall weakness, but especially in the legs (on and off)
- Shortness of breath
- Constantly swollen lymph nodes under chin on neck
- Sensitivity to fluorescent lights
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears) on and off
- Systemic inflammation
- Cold hands and feet
- Loss of libido
- Loss of interest in doing things I used to enjoy
- Anxiety about talking on the phone (odd because I wasn’t always like this)
- Weakened immune system
These symptoms developed over the course of many years, even over a decade or two. This is probably why it was harder for doctors to pinpoint the correct cause of my illness.
I felt like my life was slowly being robbed from me. Having to be in bed most days is no way to enjoy raising children, and having less energy than their grandparents just did not seem right to me! I believe it was a slow poisoning, the toxicity from the chemicals in the implants leached into my body slowly and grew over time as my body became sluggish and fatigued from fighting it, no longer able to efficiently eliminate the waste.
I also believe that it is only a matter of time for everyone with implants to experience some, or many, of these symptoms. I am a modest, private person, and did not want others to know I had implants. However, as I have become more aware of this issue, I feel I needed to share openly to help others who are sick and not being led to the correct cause by sharing my story.
So, what is the solution? I had my implants explanted, or removed. There are a few experienced explant surgeons around the country, and it is important to find someone experienced in removing the implant and capsule scar tissue at the same time (called En-Bloc) to help minimize further toxin exposure, if possible. In my case, some of my scar capsule tissues were so embedded in my rib muscles that not all the capsule was able to be removed, due to heavy bleeding. It is what it is – this just means I will need to work harder at detoxing and might have a longer recovery to full health, but it is better than bleeding to death.
Even though I am smaller, I have to say I like the way I look much better now as my natural self. Most importantly, though, is that I feel better.
My lymph nodes went down immediately. No more swelling after years of having them swollen. My thoughts are more clear and I find my memory improving. My dark under eye circles are fading. And I am only a week out from surgery as I write this. I know I have some time to go until I fully cleanse and repair my body, but I am confident that I will get my health back and be able to live a quality life now that these toxic bags, the source of constant retoxification, are out. It takes time to rebuild and eliminate these chemicals from the body – in fact, it can take one month for every year that the body was sick in order to restore health. So, this journey to wellness is a process. Some days you will feel better, others you’ll feel worse. Be patient and kind to yourself – healing will come; our bodies are amazingly [well] created.
Update 2 months after explant:
I am feeling so much better! My energy has increased greatly, and I no longer have to take naps daily. I feel like I am getting myself back again. I am so excited to be able to do house chores, run errands to more than one store, and not feel exhausted from these activities any longer. Those of you experiencing that type of exhaustion know what I am talking about. I would say 80 percent of my symptoms are gone. I am sleeping better, no longer have memory loss or cognitive issues or anxiety and depression. This is incredible!
I also wanted to share my lab reports which say so much to prove that the implants were in fact creating my health decline.
Before implant labs:
- TSH – 5.080
- Free T3 – 2.6 (low)
- Free T4 – .93 (low)
- TPO (Thyroid Antibodies) – 183 (high)
- Reverse T3 – 19 (should be much lower)
- Inflammation – 15.0
2 months after explant labs:
- TSH – 3.050 (in range)
- Free T3 – 3.1 (in range)
- Free T4 – 0.89 (low)
- TPO – 147 (moving in the right direction)
- Reverse T3 – 10 (in range)
- Inflammation – 0.5 (basically gone!)
These results are incredible proof of the fact that the implants were in fact the root cause of my autoimmune condition (Hashimoto’s)!
For more information on Breast Implant Illness, please see my article on how breast implants could be a potential trigger for thyroid disease and autoimmunity.