Breast Implants: Recovery & Discovery
We dedicate this page & this day to our Sisters, Mothers, Aunts, Neighbors, Friends and other Loved Ones who have not survived the complications of their breast implants ... please visit our Memorial Webpage.
A new study was just published: Breast Implant Surveillance Reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Maternal-Child Health Problems
Online Support Groups & Chat Rooms
[Originally posted as Anthony’s story]
(Insomnia has been my biggest symptom of Silicone Toxicity)
You’re probably thinking: “Jeff’s Story???” That’s an unusual name for a woman. Well, that’s because I’m a guy. Since I cannot “bare my chest,” as it were, I’ll bare my heart and soul, instead.
The reason I’ve written my story is to introduce myself to everyone on this site (and a few other people who I will direct to this site), and to give one guy’s perspective on breast implants to any woman who is considering getting them. Originally, I had posted this story under the name “Anthony,” but it got a bit confusing–people have written to me as “Anthony,” then ignored my responses when “Jeff” wrote back. So from now on, I’m using my real name and real [mailing] address.
Before I get into my story, I must first provide a few disclaimers and warnings. Hopefully, as you read this story, you will understand why I needed to write it and share it with others. I apologize if I’m a little long-winded in my writing but the anecdotes are provided for either insight to my feelings or to put a smile on your face. Also, at the request of my girlfriend, I have changed both her name and my late grandmother’s name to Maria.
Please keep in mind that my feelings, opinions, and beliefs are my own, and are not necessarily shared by others on this site. Many of my friends and relatives, both male and female, do share my opinions, though. I am very passionate about my feelings on the subject of breast implants and other forms of cosmetic surgery. I do not mean to offend anyone, but if I do, I apologize. I will try to explain, whenever I can, exactly why I feel the way I do.
At times, I may sound a bit bitter. This is due to the fact that I do not like the way society has put money in front of health in the areas of cosmetic surgery, prescription drugs, and medical insurance. I am also discouraged by the criticism and/or disinterest about my current endeavor from the very people who had previously applauded and encouraged my efforts.
Finally, I am not a doctor, nor am I a lawyer. I have had no formal medical training, and only a modicum of training in business and contract law. The only medical and legal advice I can or would give is, “If you’re sick, or considering surgery, talk to a doctor. If you have a legal problem or question, talk to a lawyer. In either case, do some independent research, and get second, or even third opinions.” When I reference medical research, I will provide (when possible) my source of that information. I will try to avoid reaching conclusions based on that information, but I may question the validity of parts of the research, and I may provide my opinion about the significance of the research.
That said, here’s my story:
I was raised by, and around, women. The most influential person in my upbringing was my maternal grandmother, “Maria.” Everyone in my family called her “Nonny.” (My oldest brother had mispronounced “Nana” as “Nonny,” and it stuck). Because of her gentle, caring, and sensitive nature, and the fact that all the kids my age in the neighborhood were girls, I grew up with a very deep love, admiration, and respect for women.
I have always preferred the company of women, and some women have even told me that they felt more comfortable opening up to me than they were with some of their female friends. In fact, since embarking on the endeavor that I will describe later, I have earned the admiration of many women, who appreciate the fact that a man is so concerned about the health and well-being of women. No, I am not gay, though I have often said that since I love women so much, if I had been born female, I’m sure I would have been a lesbian.
Growing up, about the only physical and/or verbal affection I was exposed to was what I saw on T.V. This increased my resolve to treat my romantic partner with as much affection, tenderness, and sensitivity as I was humanly capable of giving.
About silicone: Though I was barely into puberty, I remember the days of silicone injections (and the joke about the girl from L.A. who was attending college in Wisconsin and, during her first winter there, called her chemistry professor to find out at what temperature silicone froze). I remember the early days of silicone implants and seeing news footage of the “blobs” that were being extricated from women’s chests.
There were always “Joan Rivers” type jokes about Hollywood stars’ plastic surgery, and I always thought, “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with those women!” Sporadically, I would hear of other women’s problems, lawsuits, class actions, etc. until some time in the early 1990s, when I heard that breast implants would be restricted to only those women who’d had mastectomies. “Problem solved,” I thought. Maybe if I hadn’t been raised in such a small town, I wouldn’t have been so naive.
Because of my love and respect for women, and especially a woman’s body, I believe that getting breast implants for cosmetic purposes (ornaments, as my therapist calls them) is about the worst thing a woman can do to herself. I have about as much respect for a woman who gets cosmetic implants as I do for an abusive husband or boyfriend–they are all guilty of crimes against women, as far as I’m concerned.
Besides that, I believe that a woman getting cosmetic surgery (especially breast implants) is being dishonest not only to others, but to herself, as well. And it goes beyond “false advertising,” as it were. It is saying that she is unhappy with God’s (or Mother Nature’s) creation, and that she believes she can do better.
Though I had always been very torn on implants for reconstructive purposes, after learning what I have about implants, I have to say that I’m against reconstructive breast implants, too. After all, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to put bags of “toxic waste” into a body whose immune system is already weakened by cancer (some of the chemicals in breast implants are toxic). I have recently learned of a group of women who have survived first breast cancer, then failed silicone implants.
Another potential problem with reconstructive implants is that when a woman who has received reconstructive breast implants develops the type of health problems that so many other “implanted” women develop, will her doctors blame the implants? Of course not–they’ll blame the cancer. And if someone realized that it is the implants causing the new illness/symptoms, that woman will get to lose her breasts all over again! There are so many women in so many support groups who have been through that exact scenario, it sickens me that society and medical science continue to treat women as guinea pigs.
Years ago, when implants were first developed, a diagnosis of “breast cancer” was usually a “death sentence” for a woman. At that time, if a woman got implants, she probably wouldn’t live long enough to develop implant-related problems. For that reason, and the fact that the initial “animal” testing on breast implants and silicone was so ludicrous (six dogs, 18 months), implants were thought, by the implant manufacturers, to be perfectly safe.
Of course, I would have no objection if a woman used silicone for a different purpose, such as an adhesive, for example. Dow-Corning, the company that invented silicone in the 1940s, originally thought that silicone might be good for chemical warfare (it certainly does destroy women from the inside-out). The “tissue-destroying” capabilities of silicone have been known and documented since the early 1960s, and they continue to this day.
Though the practice of injecting liquid silicone directly into women’s breasts was first used in post-WWII Japan, then later in Las Vegas and other parts of the U.S., it didn’t take long before the dangers of silicone in the human body were shown to be quite severe and widespread. The procedure was banned in this country in the 1970s. Yet breast implants, which are made either partly or mostly of silicone, are allowed to be surgically implanted into people. The silicone will either leak out of (or bleed through) the silicone shell of the implant, and/or the body’s immune system, in its amazing complexity, will “eat away” at the silicone shell. That’s how the human body works–by destroying invaders.
They also believed that silicone could have been used as an insecticide since it was one of the few substances known (at the time) that was capable of killing cockroaches. The story I have read (I believe it came from Dow-Corning engineers) is that a dish of silicone (which is a liquid in its initial state) was left out on a table in their laboratory, and the next morning, there were dead cockroaches in and around that dish. Roaches have survived 250 million years on this planet, but they can’t survive 250 seconds in a dish of silicone.
In early 1993, I met an incredibly attractive, sexy young lady who had just started working for the company where I was employed. She was petite, very small-breasted (I adore small women), and she appeared to be about 18 or 19 (she was actually 35). Thinking that she was too young for me (I was 34 at the time), I never pursued a relationship with her. However, all my friends at the company knew I was absolutely “gaa-gaa” about her. Her name, like my grandmother’s is “Maria.” (Okay, unlike Nonny, she puts a little accent on the “i”: “María.” I usually call her “Mary”).
A year later, I found myself married to a verbally and emotionally abusive woman. The fact that she had been married and divorced twice before should have been a warning sign but, as I said earlier, I was naive.
After 8½ years of dealing the frustrations of a job where my skills were ignored, 1½-2 hours a day of commuting in some of the worst traffic in the country, then coming home to the frustrations of my marriage, I quit my job in 2001 to start my own consulting firm and hopefully save my marriage. Nine months later, it became obvious that my marriage was beyond repair, so I got out of that situation, too. (I freely accept part of the blame for the failure of that marriage–whether a marriage succeeds or fails is usually because of both spouses).
Though my ex-wife and I are not on speaking terms, I still maintained a close relationship with my former employer (both the company and many of the employees there). I had done consulting work for the company, I continued to donate to their annual charity food drive, and I regularly visited some of my friends there every few months, until the company filed bankruptcy and was purchased by another HMO in 2006. It was during one of those visits in the summer of 2004, that I had the opportunity to tell that young lady, who had stolen my heart so many years earlier, just what I thought about her.
I went to her office and knocked on her partially opened door. She invited me in and, when she turned to greet me, she looked like a different person. The youthful glow she had always had in her cheeks was replaced by a number of large, red pimples. The dimensions of her chest were also very different. I was tempted to just turn away and leave–being so disgusted by the thought of her having implants. Had it been anyone else, I would have just walked away. To this day, I still question whether or not I should have walked away.
That’s when I went into my own “denial,” of sorts. I thought to myself, “No–she wouldn’t have. Not ‘Mary.’ Not with all the problems women have had with implants. There must be another explanation–maybe she developed late (remember, I thought she was a teenager when she started with the company in 1993). Maybe she’d had a baby. Maybe it was padding.”
Well, I had wanted to tell “Mary” what I thought about her for years, so I decided to tell her anyway, regardless of how she looked at that moment. In my awkward way (I’m still a guy, after all), I told her that I was officially single (my marriage had been terminated while the property settlement with my ex-wife was still in progress), and that from the moment I met her in 1993, I had thought that she was one of the loveliest, sexiest women I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. She thanked me for the compliment, we shared some “small talk,” and we said goodbye.
I continued on my “rounds,” talking to my former co-workers. As I was leaving the building, I saw “Mary” again, as she sat in the lobby waiting for her car-pool partner. I started a conversation with her about where she was from (she had an accent I didn’t recognize and her last name led me to believe she was Italian–I, myself am half Italian). Well, she told me she was from Brazil and that her native language was Portuguese. I gave her my business card and asked her to call me when she had some free time so that we could meet for coffee or drinks or something. She told me that she would be out of town the next two weekends, but that she would call me after that.
The two weekends passed, and she did not call. Since I had some business to do with another department at her company, I stopped by to talk to her that next Monday. She apologized, profusely, for not calling me, saying that she had arrived home very late and was afraid of waking me. My response to her was, “Eu falo um pouco de português” (I speak a little Portuguese). In the two weeks since I had given her my business card, I had purchased a CD-based Portuguese language course, and I was (and still am) working on learning “her” language. She smiled from ear-to-ear and promised me she would call that evening. That time, she did call me, and we agreed to have coffee together the following Saturday evening.
That Saturday, September 11, of all days, I picked her up at her apartment, and we left for the coffee shop. Since I needed to bring some papers to one of my clients just a few miles from her apartment, we took the short drive to my client’s facility, a building set back off the main roads in the hills above her town.
On the drive up the entrance road to my client’s building, we saw something that I had not expected to see (though it was a Saturday night, there were many people around) and something “Mary” did not even think existed in the area: deer–over a dozen that we saw–all standing around eating the grass and foliage in the clearing between the roadway and the adjacent forest. We also saw a couple of rabbits sitting in the grass nearby. Having been raised on a farm, “Mary” thought it was “really neat” to see all these animals wandering around freely. I thought all this would bode well for our relationship.
I took care of the business I needed to take care of at my client’s site and we continued on our way to the coffee shop. We spent a couple hours there talking, giving each other a quick overview of our lives. She eventually told me how she had had a nose job, had her eyes “lifted,” and had “some other work done” (her implants, obviously). So much for my denial.
When we were “coffeed out,” I brought “Mary” home. We talked a little while longer, shared a “goodnight” kiss, and I left. I started wondering whether or not I would be able to handle being in a relationship with a woman who had implants–and feeling those “tennis balls” (“Mary” calls them “cantaloupes”) every time I held her in my arms. Worse than that, how could I resolve my feelings for “Mary” with my feelings about a woman who gets cosmetic implants? They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Believing that things happen for a reason, I am convinced that there is a reason “Mary” and I have gotten together. Perhaps someone “up there” (like Nonny) felt this would be a good time to bring us together. Aside from the animals we saw that night, there have been many other small things that lead me to believe we do belong together.
Then, a couple weeks later, “Mary” was diagnosed with “Rheumatoid Arthritis,” and was referred to a Rheumatologist. At this point, I knew nothing about R-A, so I went to the bookstore to find some information. I found many books specifically about R-A, but then I saw one on “Autoimmune Diseases” in general. I bought this book because it also had a [rather vague] section on something called “Silicone Immune Toxicity Syndrome” (her implants are silicone, over the muscle, and they feel like they’re about 200-250 CC). I gave the book to “Mary”, and that’s when her denial began (to be fair, though, her denial at this point may have been legitimate–her Rheumy said “No R-A”).
Two months later, we took a weekend trip out of town to celebrate her birthday. On the drive, we discussed her implants. It was on this trip that I asked her about her decision to get implants. Even though the relationship was still very new, I could not completely hide my feelings about her decision. She seemed to know nothing about the FDA “ban” on silicone implants (she got them in Brazil about 4½ months before we started dating). At that point, I still did not know any real specifics about the problems with implants.
Since I was engaged in a heated “custody” battle with my ex-wife (“custody” of my house, that is), I didn’t start researching the problems with implants for a couple months. When I finally went to the FDA website, I was shocked to read about the local and systemic complications.
This is when my symptom started developing. I would lie awake at night debating whether or not I should share any of this information with “Mary”. On the one hand, it was her body–her decision. If I told her about everything I learned, it would probably upset her greatly. And if I was wrong about her developing “implant-related” problems, I would have been causing her that stress for nothing.
If, however, I was right and she was developing serious and/or irreversible problems because of the silicone, what kind of a friend would I be if I didn’t try to warn her? Her health and well-being is the most important thing to me. Since I was sure she had no idea about the real risks of implants, I printed a few of the individual articles from the FDA’s site and gave them to her, asking her to please consider having the implants removed.
She read only a small amount of the information I gave her, if any. She was firmly in denial about the risks of her implants, and I only had the statistics and warnings from the FDA’s website. I then went to the library (when I grew up, research was done at the public library–there was no internet, per se). I searched the subject, “Breast Implants,” and found the subcategory, “Complications.” Under that was one book, “Informed Consent,” by John A. Byrne.
Here was information of a more personal nature, both about Dow-Corning (and other implant manufacturers) and Colleen Swanson, the wife of a Dow-Corning executive, whose health had been destroyed by her implants. I read a little of the book there, jotted down the information necessary to find the book at a book store, and left. After learning that the book was “out of print,” I looked online and found a number of used copies available. I ordered one up and waited for it to arrive.
Soon after the book arrived, “Mary” took a trip to Brazil (she visits her family there frequently). While she was away, I read and re-read that book. I could not believe what I was reading! It certainly opened my eyes to the FDA, plastic surgeons, and the entire medical community. I have purchased additional copies of that book and have given them to a few people–my therapist being one.
As an aside, during one of my recent visits with my therapist, we discussed how closed-minded many doctors (MDs) are. I have noticed it in a close friend of mine (an osteopath at a teaching hospital), and my therapist said that the same was true of his sister (another MD). He said he felt that they (doctors) were essentially brainwashed in medical school. Though this is just his professional opinion as a psychotherapist, much of what I have read on this site, as well as some of my other sources of information, has supported his statement.
Of course, this is not new! The Discovery Channel has a show called “Mystery Diagnosis.” By watching a few episodes of that program, one can see that even the sharpest minds in medical science can let their egos become blindfolds. Look back in history a couple hundred years and you will see how Aristarchus, Copernicus, and Galileo were all ridiculed, disregarded, and/or tormented for their beliefs that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. Throughout history, men and women have been persecuted, and sometimes even executed, because they spoke up in opposition to what “everyone else” said.
Some years ago, frontal lobotomies were treated as a medical “breakthrough!” But now, that procedure is considered to be more akin to a method of torture. Eventually, the truth about implants will come out–the only question is, “How many lives will be damaged or destroyed until that truth finally does come out?”
As another aside, while reading “Informed Consent,” I could not help but see the parallels to another product that has been causing health problem for decades: cigarettes. For years, doctors (at least the ones who smoked) claimed that there was no proof that cigarettes caused lung cancer, emphysema, etc. Doctors used to even endorse cigarette smoking in commercials! I am an ex-smoker, and personally, I still don’t believe there is definitive proof that cigarette smoking necessarily causes those problems–but it’s damn sure a contributing factor, at the very least. And smokers will continue to die from those diseases each and every day. And cigarettes remain on the market.
There are also some major differences in the way smoking and implants spread their toxins and carcinogens into the human body. With smoking, the poisons enter the lungs, where small amounts are picked up by the alveoli (in the lungs) as they extract oxygen from the [smoke-filled] air. This, of course, only happens when a person is breathing in the smoke (either first- or second-hand).
On the other hand, the silicone mixture (including the carcinogen, benzene) slowly leaks through the semi-permeable silicone shell of the implants. And even in the case of saline implants, the immune system will try to “eat away” at the silicone shell of the implant.
Even though the body’s immune system, detecting the foreign invaders, forms a scar capsule to try to isolate the implants to prevent them from damaging the body, the silicone slowly works its way into the body–through the scar capsule, or is carried by the immune system’s macrophages. Then, like when dropping food coloring into a glass of water in elementary school science class, the silicone migrates throughout the body–usually settling in organs and other soft or fatty tissue. The macrophages carry the silicone directly into the bloodstream, where it will eventually be filtered by, and trapped in, the liver. Unlike smoking, though, this process continues 24 hours a day, every day, 365 days a year.
Like “smoking-related” illnesses, “implant-related” illnesses generally take a long time to develop. But because implants do their damage “round-the-clock,” they will usually not take as long as cigarettes.
The book “Informed Consent” also made me aware of a group called “The Command Trust Network.” I looked them up on the internet (www.commandtrust.org), and contacted them, looking for sites that had more personal stories. Sybil Goldrich (who had been mentioned many times in the book, “Informed Consent”), wrote back and informed me of the site www.breastimplantinfo.org. I read the stories there, and then followed the link to Kacey Long’s site, www.implantsout.com.
I was so moved by the stories, and downright “freaked out” by Kacey’s story, I e-mailed it to “Mary” in Brazil along with another note, begging her to get “those things” out of her chest before she developed any serious problems (she has had all her surgery done in Brazil, so that she would be close to her family during recovery). The response I got from “Mary” was “I don’t want to think about it.” How naive I was to think that she could have gotten them removed in Brazil, anyway!
“Mary” returned from Brazil, in full denial that there could be anything wrong with implants. At that point, she’d had the implants for just over one year. One afternoon, when we were together in my house, I gave her the book, “Informed Consent,” and asked her to read the prologue. She noted that in the very first paragraph, the prologue stated that Colleen Swanson had had her implants for 17 years. “Mary” commented, “Well, she had them in her body too long.” To which I responded, “The problems started within a couple years of her getting the implants. It took her doctors years just to figure out that the implants were causing the problems, then she couldn’t find a surgeon willing to take them out without insisting on putting another set in! Once you get implants, plastic surgeons want you to keep them!”
I continued to do research. I learned more and more about implants and silicone and their effect on the human body. I read more stories from women who’ve had their lives either damaged or destroyed by implants. I found www.explantation.com and, after reading all the stories, I went into the forum and got myself a little more “freaked out” and upset.
Finding the information on www.explantation.com so very useful in understanding the myriad of problems caused by implants, I wrote to Jeena, the “manager” of the site, asking how I could help her, and her caring husband, with the mission of helping women. That e-mail has built itself into an electronic friendship. Jeena and I finally did meet each other briefly in 2007.
In one of her e-mails, Jeena told me that when women develop a sensitivity to silicone, they often have adverse reactions to products containing “-icone” chemicals (dimethicone, simethicone, trimethicone, and other, similar substances). My guess is that either the chemical structure of these resembles silicone, or they are all derivatives of silica and/or silicon, the main components of silicone.
“Mary” has a couple unusual allergies. One of them is an allergy to the adhesive in surgical tape. Since the pimples on her face now covered both cheeks, her chin, and were spreading to her forehead, I asked her what kind of reaction her body had to “surgical adhesive.” She told me that her skin would get red and bumpy. “Much like what’s happening to your face, huh?” was my response. Obviously, since the pimples started soon after she got the implants, and since both the silicone in the implants and the adhesive in surgical tape contain, or are created from, silica, they must be connected. For a brief moment, she seemed to overcome her denial.
With this in mind, I asked “Mary” to, as a test, not put any skin products (makeup, sunblock, etc.) on her face for a day or two (many of the products she used contain dimethicone). Logically, if her pimples were the result of an allergic reaction to the silicone implants, the dimethicone in the products she used on her face was just aggravating the allergy. Though she initially refused to do this test (her denial prevented her from trying to learn the truth), she eventually did refrain from using any products on her face and, sure enough, the pimples cleared up considerably, as I expected them to.
I started talking to my friends and relatives, both male and female, about implants and the problems with them. The reaction I got was almost universal among them all–very few had any idea that implants caused such problems. I wished I had a way to get the word out to more people. That’s when I came up with the idea of printing a little message on “business cards,” providing the addresses (URLs) of some of the most useful websites I had found. I would then do whatever I could to spread as many of the cards as possible. Jeena also thought the cards were a good idea and she posted them on www.explantation.com.
Since I was able to fit all the best websites on one side of the card, I decided to place a wonderful quote from Dr. Barbara Manno on the other side. At the end of the FDA hearings on April 13, 2005 regarding one breast implant manufacturer’s attempt to get its product approved for unrestricted sale, Dr. Manno voted in favor of approval saying, “...they [women] can make a choice and it’s tough luck if it doesn’t work.” I think that’s the most glowing “endorsement” she could have given.
To read her complete comment, visit the FDA’s website at the following link: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms
I also started thinking about what I could do to get my message (that women are beautiful naturally) out to women on a “wholesale” level. I thought of running pieces in newspapers, in magazines, on billboards, on websites, etc.
This idea raised a number of concerns in my mind. I am just one private individual, and I am far from wealthy. If I could form a non-profit organization, a charity, I could solicit tax-deductible donations from people to help “balance out” the media’s image (propaganda) that cosmetic surgery (especially breast implants) are without serious, long-term risks, or that the only “good” breast is an artificial one, or that a woman needs to have large breasts to be considered attractive or feminine.
Again, believing that things happen for a reason, and as Jeena pointed out in one of her e-mails, perhaps this is my “calling.” Perhaps, since I am not a powerful politician or a brilliant scientist or doctor, I will make my “mark” in the world by saving women from some of the dangers of cosmetic surgery and breast implants. Maybe I will be remembered by making the world a more beautiful, more natural place.
This is where everything stands right now: My relationship with “Mary” is the best relationship I have ever been in. It is stronger than ever and I hope it continues for many years to come. I hope she will decide to have her body returned to its natural, God-given beauty before any permanent damage is done (if it hasn’t already been done and she just hasn’t developed obvious symptoms yet); “Mary” has many possible symptoms of silicone-related diseases, and she is slowly developing more, but at this point, they are mild and sporadic.
Aside from a bit of ptosis (sagging) and associated stretch marks, “Mary” suffers from frequent headaches, dry eyes and nasal passages, periodic memory loss, occasional bouts of loss of balance, and ongoing blemishes. Nothing severe. Not yet. It’s possible that they are not even related to her implants (aside from the ptosis and stretch marks). Her “four year” mark will be at the end of April, 2008.
But she will not do anything until she develops a serious problem that can be tied to her implants. Fortunately, she is paying more attention to the little symptoms that she would have ignored, had I not warned her.
Some time ago, “Mary” said to me, “My sister is a surgical nurse (in Brazil). If there are so many problems with implants, why doesn’t my sister know about them?” My response to that question is the same reason that many “studies” about implant safety are also unreliable: Many of the problems caused by implants (i.e., autoimmune diseases) would generally not require hospitalization, let alone surgery. Many studies of implant safety have been based on hospital records.
And in an ironic, but not unexpected, twist, “Mary” told me that she got implants because she was and still is unhappy with her body. Low self-esteem (e.g., unhappiness with one’s own body) is not a physical problem, and cannot be solved by physical means. Which, I’m sure, is at least part or the reason why the suicide rate among women with implants is so much higher than women in the general population. Once a woman gets on the “plastic surgery roller coaster,” she may never be happy with herself again (but her wallet and her bank account will certainly lose some weight).
I continue to walk the “tightrope” between my total devotion to “Mary” and my intense hatred of implants and growing contempt for plastic surgery in general. Every time I catch one of the “Extreme Makeover” type shows as I’m flipping around the dial, it gets me more enraged. Plastic surgery should only be used in cases where a person was disfigured by an injury or illness, or has a legitimate birth defect (having small breasts is NOT a birth defect, nor is it a medical disease requiring treatment–though plastic surgeons tried to get small breasts classified as such (“Informed Consent,” page 62)).
In my research, I have found hundreds of different pieces of information. I have seen studies, reports, articles, statistics, facts, opinions, pictures, etc. I have repeatedly seen statements like, “There is no scientific proof that breast implants cause ‘this problem’ or ‘that problem.’” Aside from the fact that the studies did not last long enough for the cause/effect relationships to manifest themselves (after all, smokers generally don’t develop lung cancer after 3 or 5 years–it usually takes 20 years or more), the implant manufacturers use the laws of statistics to hide the actual results of their studies.
There may not be “scientific proof” of a link between implants and autoimmune diseases, but their own studies have shown significant increases in the likelihood of a woman with breast implants developing one or more autoimmune diseases. This information is right on their own websites.
One statistic that the plastic surgery industry doesn’t want anyone to know about is that some women who develop “implant-related” problems have their implants removed. I have seen studies that have shown that the majority (as many as 98%) of those women get better (though not all recover completely). Comparison studies have shown that while most “explanted” women get healthier, the control group of “implanted” women either got worse, or showed no improvement. In my opinion, that shows a pretty strong connection between implants and the types of diseases implants are accused of causing.
But just like the arguments the tobacco companies make: not every smoker develops lung cancer, and not every person with lung cancer has smoked. Likewise, not every woman who gets breast implants will develop autoimmune diseases, and not every woman who develops autoimmune diseases has had breast implants. But common sense dictates that putting a dangerous chemical into a living body is certainly not going to help that body, and the research appears to support this obvious conclusion.
Often, breast implants are compared to automobiles. They both need to be replaced every so often. But if a car dealer told you that a particular make of car was only 86.8% reliable and that over 13% of those cars would require major service within three years, that the service would not be covered under warranty, and that the cost of the service would be almost as much as the initial price of the car, would you buy that car? Even if the car’s problems could be harmful to the owner? What if the required “major service” could be fatal to the owner? If you’d still want that car, I’d like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, too.
Well, by their own safety data, of their own studies, of their own patients, with their own implants, on their own websites, 86.8% is the highest reliability rate the implant manufacturers have reported about their own products over their three year study period. And for those women who get silicone implants, or get breast implants for either reconstruction or for replacement of existing implants, the numbers are worse–and sometimes, significantly worse! And the failure rates go up even higher as time goes on.
Read the information on their websites yourself (Allergan (formerly Inamed, formerly McGhan) and Mentor are the only two remaining breast implant manufacturers in the U.S. The others have either gone bankrupt or have wisely gotten out of the business.):
Allergan Corp’s safety data on their silicone implants (pp. 21, 22, 29, 30)
About the time that rapper Kanye West’s mother, Donda, died after plastic surgery, there were reports of other women who had problems after their surgeries. One of the women had developed an infection after receiving breast implants, and wanted to sue her surgeon for malpractice because she developed an infection. Obviously, if this woman did not know that infection was a risk of surgery (any surgery–not just breast implants), she should not have been allowed to have elective surgery. After all, any time a person’s body is cut open, common sense should dictate that infection is a possibility.
Plastic surgeons will also use the argument that all the reports of women having problems are just “anecdotal,” and therefore are not scientific research and not reliable evidence. In other words, “They don’t matter.” That’s like saying that “Because the women were not part of a scientific study, they didn’t actually get sick.”
Scientific study or not, the women did get sick, they continue to get sick, and their cases do matter! When people who were taking Vioxx started having heart attacks and strokes, that was just anecdotal information, too! But those cases sure as heck did made a difference. And that information got a dangerous drug off the market.
When Ford Pintos showed a tendency to explode when involved in rear-end collisions, that was also just anecdotal information. But further investigation of those anecdotal reports led to the discovery of both a design flaw and the internal documents that showed that Ford management knew about the flaw, but manufactured the car anyway, because paying financial settlements to the families of the victims of those explosions was cheaper than making the minor changes to the vehicle’s design. It looks like honest and just business ethics are getting to be as rare as a working Ford Pinto!
I also wonder if implants would remain on the market if they did their damage to men, or if the women who were disfigured or sickened were included in their advertising.
In the summer of 2007, I received an inheritance check from the estate of my late uncle (Nonny’s son). I could have used the money to buy a new car. I could have bought myself a nice entertainment center. Or some new clothes. Instead, I’m using the money to form and provide the initial funding for the charity I have had in my mind and “on the drawing board” for years.
So, after two-plus years of planning, I have created a corporation, Implanting Truth, Inc., and registered its internet domain, www.implantingtruth.org. According to the notification letter I received from the IRS, I should receive my 501 (c) 3 (Non-Profit Organization) status sometime around March, 2008. Now I’ve started to learn just how much resistance I will be facing in trying to get this message out. What I hadn’t counted on, though, was the fact that so far, all the resistance I have encountered has been from the people I thought would be my allies!
Before embarking on this endeavor, I assembled a list of about a dozen people who would have been good candidates to have on my Board of Directors. Because of “political” complications (Dr. “Smith” doesn’t like Dr. “Jones,” etc), I had to whittle that list down to about six. Of those, none are interested in being on the board anymore (though they had been just a few months ago).
I have been accused of being “creepy” for wanting to learn more about what women who have had their breast implants removed go through: what their experiences were with their medical providers, what health problems they have developed, how they have handled everything emotionally. I have been told to “Worry about my own ‘equipment.’”
Well, it’s true that I have never had breast implants (or any other cosmetic surgery). I’ve never been diagnosed with breast cancer. I have never had a mastectomy.
But then, I’m not homeless, either. Nor am I blind. Nor am I confined to a wheelchair. Nor do I have AIDS.
Does that mean that it’s wrong for me to try to learn about the challenges of the homeless, the blind, the wheelchair-bound, or AIDS patients so that I can try to either help them or help others to avoid their situations? Would I be “creepy” for wanting to talk to someone who lost his or her eyesight to sympathetic ophthalmia so that I could do something to help make people aware of that condition? If doing all that is wrong, then hey–it would be a lot easier for me to say, “The hell with everybody else” and just take care of myself!
But I’m trying to get this message out because I believe in the message, and I want to make a difference in the world. Or at least try to make a difference.
Mostly, though, I have been faced with incredible disdain. A few people (mostly women) have told me how great they think it is that I’m trying to do something to change society for the better, but when it comes to something as simple as putting their name in my “guestbook” to let others know they support me, I get nothing. I ask for feedback–I get nothing. I ask for ideas–I get nothing. Well, almost nothing–one woman in one of the women’s support groups suggested that I write to Hugh Hefner about the message that Playboy® Magazine is sending about women’s beauty. I will write such a letter to Hef’s daughter, Christie, who has been running the magazine for many years (I haven’t even picked up a Playboy® in over 10 years–in my opinion, the magazine has strayed from Hef’s initial plans for the magazine–to show the “girl next door” in her natural beauty!)
A few months ago, I asked two women for their opinions about a simple message I had printed on T-shirts. Ten words and two websites. One woman ignored me, and the other flat-out refused to give me her opinion. Her response? “That is not what we do.... We make films.” By profession, they were both visual artists, yet they would not give me their simple opinions on a simple message I was trying to express visually.
The irony of much of what I have encountered is that quite often, women have complained that they have gotten surgery to attract men, to keep men, to compete against men in the workplace, or to fit an image that has been defined by men. Many women have complained that their male partners have objected to them getting their breast implants removed, that their male doctors refused to take their surgery- or implant-related health problems seriously, or they have, at some other level, “bashed” men as being insensitive and uncaring. Yet here I am, trying to do something to help women, and I’m getting the same treatment–I’m getting “blown off” the same way they were!
But I keep trying to get this effort really going. I keep trying to learn about some of society’s “hidden” injustices, in hopes that I can help get them into the forefront.
I have just watched a couple movies that have educated me about another problem in the medical community: prescription medications. The movies are located at these websites: www.sideeffectsthemovie.com and www.moneytalksthemovie.com. In watching those two movies, I have seen the same corporate greed and lack of ethics that were present in the development of breast implants.
Like the old saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Please visit my new site, Implanting Truth
Please see this excellent new video ...
about the breast implant horror.
Please view excellent video by implant survivors:
(please let us know if any links go down)
Please view excellent video by implant survivors:
(please let us know if any links go down)
Stories by Women Harmed by Breast Implants ... and Those Who Love Them
return to top