Why I Got My Breast Implants Removed (my experience with explant surgery)

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First, a little raw and revealing love note from me to you. This is one of those posts that I know in my heart can help people, and I think it’s part of my responsibility not only as a blogger, but as a fitness professional, to not just share fun pictures of workouts and food, but to show the struggles and obstacles that come along, too.

But letting you in on some of these moments that are more personal and private means that I’m putting myself out there for criticism and judgement. To be totally honest, I wrote this post, trashed it…and then brought it back. So, as you read, please know that I’m as vulnerable as anyone else, and while questions and even dissenting opinions are always welcomed, any personal attacks on me or anyone else who comments and weighs in will be removed.

Why I Got My Breast Implants Removed

Recently, just a little over 11 years after having my breast implants put in, I had them taken out. 

Aesthetically, they stood the test of time, and still looked pretty darn good. 

They were soft and I had no capsular contracture.

MY OTHER RECIPES

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So why the heck did I say goodbye?

They starting hurting almost two years ago, and it slowly turned from a dull pain to a burning sensation.

It started in the fall of 2015, shortly after I had P. I figured it was a fluke from breastfeeding and pregnancy, so I waited it out until she was a year old before going to ask about it. I visited my plastic surgeon’s office in Tucson over Thanksgiving, and had them checked out to make sure nothing was wrong. The doctor assured me it was just hormonal, and that if it didn’t get worse, to leave them alone. Well, they continued to get worse, and it reached the point where I fantasized about ripping them out from my skin. It went from being an inconvenience, to a “these things have to be out of my body now.”

Breast explant surgery - breast implant removal

Some Facts About Breast Implants

-According to the FDA, they’re not intended to be lifetime medical devices. You will need to have your implants removed or replaced when (not “if”) you have problems with them (usually pain, rupture, and/or capsular contracture). The life of a breast implant depends on so many different factors. Some women can have them for two years and need a replacement, others can have theirs for 22 years without problems. The type of implant and fill volume can impact this, too. If you have saline implants, you’ll almost immediately know that you have a rupture (because it will deflate quickly) and with silicone, you could potentially have a rupture and not know. With saline, if they used valves to fill the implant, you could have a “slow leak” and be unaware that it’s rupturing, but the salt water is absorbed by the body. Saline implants are in a silicone shell. 

-My plastic surgeon had told me that they would “last a lifetime” but now it’s commonly recommended that they should be replaced every 10-15 years. Since you need to replace implants, possibly multiple times over the course of your life, I decided that I wanted to be free of them. I could have gotten mine replaced, but know I’d need a future breast surgery (or surgeries) to maintain them, or I could just stop with the surgeries already. I decided to roll with the latter, especially since I had two surgeries last year (one to repair a severed nerve in my hand, and the other was a repair after P was born and I wasn’t stitched correctly. woof) and 6 weeks of downtime sucks. 

My Decision to Get My Breast Implants Removed

When I first got my breast implants, I 100% made the best decision for myself at the time. I remember riding in the car to surgery and not feeling the least bit concerned about the result; I was so excited to finally have symmetrical, regular-sized boobs! I was looking forward to being *even* again since I had a benign tumor removed when I was in college.

My implants were, by far, one of the best purchases I’ve ever made, and I’ve never regretted it. They’ve been with me through a lot: our wedding, many moves, 3 deployments, 2 babies, and a lot of sports bras and workouts. 😉 Even though I enjoyed them and thought they looked awesome, they never defined me. That’s why I felt similarly going into this surgery: even though I was nervous (anesthesia always freaks me out a bit), I was confident I was making the best possible decision, and was ready to let them go. 

Breast Implant Removal and Diastasis Recti Repair

I did a lot of research in the process, and found a Plastic Surgeon in Atlanta who is double-board certified and does implant removals often. When I called the office, his receptionist said he does 4-5 explants per week, and has been for the five years since she’s worked there. He’s so kind, and Facetimed me three times to answer all of my questions. His bedside manner made me feel at ease, especially paired with the fact that he had hundreds of awesome reviews online and lots of great testimonials. 

Since I was already going to be knocked out and under the knife, I made another decision: to have my abdominal muscles repaired. After working to rehab my diastasis recti for the past year and a half, it got to its *best* point, which still left me with protrusion around my belly button and abnormal ab separation. As Katy Bowman would say, sometimes the connective tissue becomes a “quitter,” like an old sock. Friends, my linea alba was a quitter after growing and birthing two babies (one of whom was 10 lb 13 oz and stretched me out to the max). I wasn’t stoked about the recovery time, but my heart was telling me to go for it. So, I did. While he repaired my abdominal muscles, he also got rid of the excess skin from being stretched out so much. 

Thoughts About Plastic Surgery

I’ve always been an advocate of making the best decision for yourself; no one else. If you have the means and desire to change something, do it! Excess skin following weight loss and ab separation post-pregnancy are things I’ve seen so often with my personal training and postpartum clients. They hit their goal weight, but are left with a lot of loose skin which honestly will not likely disappear over time. With DR, sometimes you can repair it to the point where it’s within a normal, functional, range again; other times, it can be so stretched out that the tissue doesn’t have the ability to fully recover. My doctor told me my abs were still a solid 3 fingers apart, and that’s after 8 months of Physical Therapy and daily rehab exercises.

Women on Instagram and celebrities will sometimes say they look awesome because they “work their ass off.” They also got lucky. So many women work hard, eat clean, and are super consistent, and left with things that will not change, no matter what they do. You can’t change skin elasticity, and you can’t physically repair connective tissue. I have to admit that it was really frustrating to work daily on my core rehab, work out wisely, and eat extremely clean, and know that nothing I did would change the appearance of my skin or the protrusion of my stomach. 

Even though having smooth skin again is awesome, I really wanted the functionality of my core to be restored. I’ve been modifying exercises for so long, and wanted the freedom to do everything I used to do, without feeling like I was compromising or overcompensating. If I did the full ab series in my barre classes, I looked pregnant afterwards because it was so much stress on my connective tissue. After filming the HIIT workouts for our last Winter Shape Up, I was severely bloated and had back pain for the rest of the week. Any time I did anything that wasn’t DR-friendly -and most of the time I was really good about sticking with *safe* exercises- I paid the price, usually with back pain, or uncomfortable intense bloating.

Honesty and Transparency

I wanted to share this story with you and be completely honest with my situations. I wanted to share this for any of the mamas or friends out there who may be having issues with their breast implants, or struggling with abnormal ab separation postpartum.

I feel like there’s a lot of dishonesty in the fitness world, and the online world in general. There are Instagrammers who post these gooey decadent food photos, and throw them in the trash to eat chicken and broccoli instead. There are fitness celebrities hawking a healthy diet and exercise plan when they’re loading up on steroids and fat loss pills. There are a LOT of people who have gotten plastic surgery, and haven’t said a word about it. It’s all “Buy my diet plan!” even though they had lipo and a lot of Photoshop.

This is where the gray area comes in. If you have Botox, and someone comments on your beautiful, smooth skin, do you HAVE to tell them you had Botox?? I don’t think so. But, if you make your living promoting healthy skin and selling a skin rejuvenation program, I think it would be important to share.

This is one of the reasons why I want to share this story. (In addition to the fact that I’m an oversharer and like being real with you all.) You guys know what I look like. I eat well, I exercise, I enjoy life and drink a lot of red wine. I also promote health and fitness, and doing what’s best for you, and what makes you happy. I want everyone to live their best and happiest life possible.

My Body After Plastic Surgery

I had something done that altered my boobs (they’re tiiiiiiiny again! and they also don’t ache and burn anymore) and my stomach is totally different, though I’m the same size. (My separation is repaired, and my wrinkled skin is smoothed out. I also have a visible scar.) But you guys who know me and read the blog know I didn’t do this as a way to swindle or cheat anyone. I’ll continue to promote my post baby bod plan; all of the photos within are indeed my post baby bod, and I have zero plans to reshoot them. But now you know any pictures from now on where my stomach looks different, it was the combo of my hard work over the years, plus the repair from Dr. Ghazi. He ended up not needing to do lipo (which is awesome because I heard it could be painful), and just stitched my abs back together, pulled my skin down and made a new hole for my belly button to live. While my breasts look tiny compared to what they were, they feel amazing. They’re free of the large bags that were making my entire chest ache and burn, and I feel a lightness. I can take a big, deep breath again, and man, it feels awesome. 

Just after surgery:

Breast explant surgery experience - breast implant removal

What I Learned From Explant Surgery and Diastasis Recti Repair

During this whole experience, I fully realized that health is wealth. My boobs looked great, but were causing me significant pain, so I was happy to get them taken out. Now that the implants are gone, I LOVE my new (aka old) boobs. They’re small and perky and cute, and ME. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

As far as the implants go, I’ve done a lot of research, and started to discover that thousands of women all over the world are having problems with theirs. When I asked my naturopath if he had any suggestions about how I could heal the pain they were causing me, he said that the burning and aching was an immune response to a foreign invader. Some people do well with implanted devices in their bodies, while others start to reject them. 

I also learned about breast implant illness, which is how I found the Facebook group I’m currently in. I learned that thousands have suffered various ailments from the implants (silicone and saline), and I feel like they definitely may have contributed to the fact that I persistently felt exhausted, had increased depression and anxiety (I always had anxiety but didn’t suffer from panic attacks until the summer I had them put in), numbness and cold in my limbs, and dry, red eyes. Over the past couple of years, I got comments saying I looked tired or worn down. I felt tired and worn down. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the pain and inflammation in my body, or the fact that I am indeed getting older. You can’t really pinpoint what caused what, but I can say I feel markedly better after having them removed, which is all the matters. The constant pain and burning is gone, so I’m calling it a win. When I told a good friend and teaching coworker that I was having mine removed, she told me that she had also gotten rid of hers after they began to wreck havoc in her body, and it was the best thing she ever did.

I don’t want to share this story to freak anyone out who has breast implants. If you have them and you feel great, that is amazing news. This is just my story; it doesn’t necessary mean it will be your story, and I’m just sharing my experience. My implants had reached their figurative expiration date, and my body was letting me know. I don’t hate on plastic surgery at all -I just had some more to fix my core!- and wholeheartedly believe that it’s a personal decision. 

My husband is the best man in the world, and I’ve never felt so loved on by our tribe. When I first told Tom that my implants were hurting, he was like, “How do we fix it?” and has supported me along the entire way. He wanted me to get them out as soon as possible, and made me feel so cared for and loved while I was recovering, with drains sticking out of my body and scars and bandages everywhere. He lifted me out of bed when I could hardly walk, set alarms for my medicine, changed wound dressings, emptied drains, REMOVED said drains (I was terrified but it was NBD), and it brings me to tears when I think about how much love and support he gives to all of us. My madre was here, helping us wrangle the girls, making food, doing laundry, giving everyone baths, and here to keep us company at night. We were helped out so much by our friends here in town, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and love for all of the wonderful people we’re so blessed to have in our life.  

What’s Next

Here I am, 5 1/2 weeks after surgery! It’s been hard to take time off from the gym -gosh, I love those endorphins- but I’ve been walking in between Netflix sessions. I’ve enjoyed just being: enjoying the girls, relaxing, just taking it easy and loving on my family.

I’m not going to flood the blog with posts about this, but I do have a post about recovery + some tips that I may be publishing in the next week or so. I just wanted to wait and see how this goes over with everyone. (aka if people are being hater-y about it, I might just let it be.)

So there’s my story. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind and heartfelt comments as I continue to heal. I’m thankful to all of you for being here, and for all of your support on life’s crazy adventures over the years. 

xo

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