I’ve been waiting awhile to write this blog post until I’m fully healed from my explant surgery and feel that now’s the time. I’m happy to finally talk about everything that I’ve been going through for the past several years.
Between the years of 2010-2012 I lost quite a bit of weight. As a result my breasts went from a large B cup to an A cup and I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. If you’ve had a baby, you probably understand the sagging issue after breast feeding… add that to a big amount of weight loss and you end up with not-so-pretty breasts. That’s when I decided to get my implants. I was in my 40’s and looking forward to having the body I had always wanted.
When I first brought up the idea of getting implants with Jeff, he was extremely supportive as usual. He just wanted me to be as happy as I can be. When I talked to Emma about everything, she was a junior in high school – of course her opinion mattered to me. She has always had naturally large breasts (around size DD cups) and was fully supportive as well. However she did warn me about the struggles of having large boobs in every day situations. Your clothing fits differently, you have to be more conscious with how you appear in clothing, your back hurts some days, and some of my favorite styles of clothing might not fit as well. We are both runners and she also explained that having larger boobs would get in the way – double sports bras are a must!
Getting all this information did enlighten me but unfortunately I didn’t heed the advice. To make matters worse, I rushed my research in finding a doctor. I really thought the doctor I had picked had great reviews but in the years since the surgery I’ve learned otherwise. Ugh!
First Implant Surgery – 2011
I was really excited to meet my doctor. His office is located in Blackhawk – a really nice area in the East Bay. When I first met him.. I didn’t love his bedside manner. I actually disliked his cockiness and abrasiveness from the beginning. His office was absolutely beautiful however and in my rush to getting the surgery done, I disregarded the initial red flags. Oh how I wish I had listened to my gut on this one.
Every plastic surgeon tends to have a ‘style’ they prefer when it comes to the shape of the breasts they create. This guy liked the ‘va va voom’ style of breasts.. think Pamela Anderson. I didn’t realize this at the time, but he definitely didn’t dissuade me from wanting to go larger.
When the surgery was over, initially everything was great. It wasn’t until 2-3 months later that I began to develop Capsular Contracture. This occurs when the scar tissue or capsule that normally forms around the implants tightens and squeezes the implant.. it may be more common following infection, etc. Over the next several months my breasts became very hard and uncomfortable. They felt like heavy rocks. When I went back to the doctor to share this he became very defensive and said that he would only pay for a partial amount if I decided to have them redone – just 1 breast.
I was shocked at his immediate dismissal and almost defensive attitude from the jump. I never implied that it was his fault.. My dad was a surgeon.. I would never do that. The cause of CC is unknown but factors common to it’s incidence include bacteria contamination – most likely from surgery (which is what they think happened with me), a rupture of the breast-implant shell, leakage of the silicone-gel filling, and a hematoma – none of which had happened to me. So his immediately pushing me away was extremely disheartening and distressing during this vulnerable period.
When we left the office, we knew we were never going back. I guess I could have taken my case to a lawyer to see if there was anything we could do but CC is not a clear cut situation. We were looking at another surgery also at that point and the cost involved so we moved on..
Implants can cost between $5000-$10,000 depending on where you live in the U.S. When you add a lift to that (which is what I did) the surgery can cost anywhere from $10,000-$14,000 cash. No insurance.
Looking back now, I’m so happy that this original doctor wouldn’t cover the full cost of both breasts to redo them. I probably would have gone back to him for the redo.. who knows what would have happened. I could have saved upwards of an additional $12,000 surgery but at what cost?
2nd Surgery – 2012
I reached out to my diagnostic radiologist & my gynecologist for their professional opinion and to get the name of a good local breast surgeon to handle my case. They both recommended someone in the area known to clean up other Doctor’s messes. (think the show Botched on Bravo!) The first day we met, Jeff and I really liked him. He was extremely professional and I felt as if I could trust him from the get-go.
When he heard what I had gone through, he felt horrible about the pain and the distress I went through. After seeing my X-rays he told us that he felt the Capsular Contracture was probably due to some bacteria on the implant or otherwise.
I went with him for the second surgery. The only thing I regret about the that surgery was not going a bit smaller in breast size, like this new doctor had suggested.
When I came out of surgery and recovered – my body healed extremely fast and my breasts responded beautifully. Never had an issue! This just reinforced our thoughts that my CC was caused by something from the outside.
2019 & Explant Surgery
Fast forward 7 years. At the beginning of 2019 I felt weighed down by my implants, literally and figuratively. I had gained around 15-20 lbs from where I was after the second surgery and the extra weight was making my breasts even heavier if that’s possible. I looked so much larger in my clothes and felt like hiding my breasts. They just looked enormous.
After discussing my feelings with Jeff and my doctors about getting an explant/reduction surgery – my doctors referred me to a woman breast surgeon in the area. My doctors who referred her recommended that I go with a woman this time around so that I have someone who fully understands what I want and can guide me properly.
At my first appointment with this 3rd doctor, I was immediately impressed. She said I was way too large breasted for my petite 5’4″ frame and she stated that I needed to lose some weight before heading into surgery so that she knew how much breast tissue she had to work with. I loved that she wasn’t trying to march me into surgery right away and that she wanted the best possible outcome for me. It was very motivating for me and her recommendation helped me lose 15+ pounds before my surgery on November 12th. Before getting a reduction it’s always best to be at your healthiest weight so that you don’t ruin the work you’ve paid for. She explained that many women tend to lose weight after reductions thus losing breast tissue which can cause their new breasts to sag. Not something that you want to have happen after going through a big surgery and spending so much money!
In November I went into surgery feeling excited and so good about my decision. Everything went well and I was able to head home that same day. Once you have breast surgery they wrap your breasts with a tight gauze for 24-48 hours to help keep swelling at bay. Your doctor then removes the wrap during your first checkup. My doctor likes her patients to come in after 24 hours to stay on top of things. When she took off the wrap she immediately looked very concerned because my left nipple wasn’t looking healthy. As a matter of fact it looked black indicating that it wasn’t getting the proper blood flow. This could be due to a few things.. too tight of a binding (the wrap) or the nipple not having it. This nipple had seen 3 surgeries after all. Whatever the cause.. we’ll never know.
All anyone really cared about at that time was saving my nipple. From the get-go, we had to encourage blood circulation to the area which meant daily heparin injections around the nipple.. (along with more attention to detail that I don’t want to go into). Every day or every other day we had to drive 1 – 1 1/2 hours each way to see the doctor. It was a trying time to say the least. I was worried and upset constantly, my breast hurt quite a bit, and if that’s not enough I was extremely stressed out from working/blogging during our busiest peak period.. I had already committed to many different partnerships over the next 2 holiday months that I couldn’t back out of. I was mentally and physically exhausted.
One thing I want to emphasize is that while this unfortunate situation was occurring, my doctor went above and beyond to try and be there for us. Jeff took off work and Emma bent over backwards. Due to this attention, I feel my body was able to respond to the medicine and begin to heal… although for some reason it took an unusually long time period. 7 weeks!! With daily care. My doctor even made a house call on Thanksgiving morning.. who does that? I feel blessed.
What a mess though.. I must be the unluckiest person when it comes to breast surgery. In the scheme of life however I know that I’m fortunate. I didn’t have to have any of these surgeries due to sickness but the whole thing has been ridiculous. You can count me out for any future elective breast surgeries. I’m all for people getting what they want in life and there is nothing wrong with getting plastic surgery.. I just hope that through my experiences you can learn from me. If you’re considering any kind of plastic surgery for yourself – please do your research and get multiple referrals and many doctors reviews before heading under the knife.
One last comment about breast implant surgery.. If you do decide to get implants just understand that they are not lifelong devices and you’ll be looking at getting more surgeries in the future. Either to replace them or have them removed – both of which can cost quite a bit.
Click here for more recent October 2019 information from the FDA on implants and the upkeep they require.
In total I spent around $36,000 for my 3 Implant & Explant Experience surgeries. Definitely wish I could go back and make a change or two…
Hope my Implant & Explant Experience story helps you if you’re considering getting breast implants.. And for the record, I’m not against implants – even after everything I’ve gone through but I probably wouldn’t get them again knowing what I know now.
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