Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and aging have a way of turning your perky 20 year-old boobs into something you no longer recognize. Trust me, I know you are worried about your appearance.
I was too.
But today I am going to share a different story, one that I am slightly embarrassed by, but needs to be told nonetheless.
I am going to explain to you why I have no regrets about removing my breast implants, how the surgery went, and my top tips for breast explant recovery.
I hope that my story can not only prevent you from getting breast implants altogether, but also give someone the courage to remove their implants asap.
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Why I got breast implants in the first place
This is the part of the story where I get vulnerable with you.
Back in 2010 my husband and I were newly married. He was a very good looking military man who left to go on trips a lot.
I am sure you can already hear the small violin in the background playing the familiar song of many military spouses.
We honestly didn’t know each other very well when we got married. Like many military relationships, we were long distance for much of our dating period. Marriage was honestly a way to remedy the distance so we could be together more often.
We tried to figure out the whole marriage commitment and honestly we had a lot of trust issues back then.
I stupidly thought that if I changed my appearance and got bigger boobs, then my husband would never cheat on me while he was away.
There is so much more I could say about this time of our lives and my mindset but that isn’t the purpose of this article. Maybe I will write more about how to overcome trust issues and a less than ideal marriage scenario.
Which we did, we are still happily married 8 years later!
I have always been a dreamer, an idea machine, and a problem solver. Some of my ideas have been great, but this one…
…Well, it was a terrible idea and before I had time to understand how BAD of a decision I was making, I had half a liter of silicone implants under each of my pectoral muscles.
From the moment I woke up from surgery, I had pain and that pain NEVER truly went away, even years after I recovered from the surgery.
You can see from the picture above that I was athletic and being active was very important part of my identity and the way I coped with military life.
Most of my hobbies involved the use of my pectoral muscles (climbing, yoga, and weightlifting) and I always felt uncomfortable after getting the implants.
My breast implant surgery was in June of 2012. I started thinking about explant surgery a year later when I still had pain doing push-ups.
My concerns with explant surgery
Once I finally made the decision to get my implants taken out, I had a lot of questions about breast implant removal surgery.
My biggest concern: how will my breasts look after explant surgery?
Will they look like an empty sock? Will my skin go back to normal?
Is breast explant surgery painful?
At first I thought about merely swapping my implants out for a smaller size. But this was also the beginning of my journey to a more natural, non-toxic lifestyle and implants didn’t fit in with my values.
Now that I finally had some! It is crazy how long it took me to grow up and start defining my own values! If you are just finding my blog for the first time, naturally living is what it’s all about.
I scoured the internet for natural remedies to tighten skin and stumbled upon some great articles about the power of essential oils the night before my surgery.
**More on essential oils and other remedies I used to recover from surgery and tighten skin later in this article**
I went in the morning of my surgery and told my surgeon that I would NOT be downsizing my implants and I wanted them removed all together.
I was already undergoing my second major surgery and the thought of having to go back under the knife 10 years later to get my implants renewed once again was out of the question.
Thankfully he hadn’t yet opened the sterile package of the implants so I didn’t have to pay for them which made the cost of my surgery significantly cheaper.
Why you should consider removing your implants or not getting them altogether
Every surgery has risks and an elective surgery such as breast implantation is no different.
As a registered nurse, I talk with patients about the pros and cons of many medical procedures all the time but of course if you are in the middle of this decision you should consult with your surgeon. Just keep in mind they want to make money and from my experience in my appointments, often downplay the risks.
Let’s look at a few of the documented risks with breast implants so you can truly evaluate if getting breast implants is the right decision. If you already have them, this might make a case for explant surgery.
Breast Implant Risks:
1. The need for future surgeries to revise the scar tissue
2. Changes in nipple sensation (This happened to me and my nipples were so sensitive and painful for years)
3. Rupture, slow-releasing toxic chemicals from silicone into body tissue or deflating one of your breasts if you have saline
4. Breast tissue atrophy (shrinking of your own native tissue)
5. Breakdown and thinning of the skin around the implant making it more obviously fake
6. Capsular contracture: scar tissue builds up around the implant and changes the way it sits in the pocket which can make your breasts look lop-sided
7. Breast implant illness: fatigue, memory loss, rash, “brain fog,” and joint pain
8. Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL): a T-cell lymphoma that can develop following breast implants. You are putting a foreign object inside of your body. Your immune system WILL react and it can increase your risk for autoimmune disorders as well
9. Inability to breastfeed or low milk supply from native tissue damage
10. Silicone chemicals are found in breastmilk
11. Breast implants are not a permanent fix and will need to be replaced or removed eventually.
12. Increased risk of local infection
13. Pain that doesn’t go away
These are some but not all of the risks associated with breast implantation. Sourced from the FDA.
Results from my breast explant surgery
- Total Cost: $1547 for the surgeon fee and anesthesia
- Total Recovery Time: 2 weeks
- Pain after explant surgery: Minimal pain at incision site and some itching while healing
- Breast appearance post surgery: very saggy, flat, and deflated
- Breast appearance 6 weeks post surgery: much fuller breast appearance, skin almost as tight as before my implant surgery
- Drains: No drains required after explant surgery because my bleeding was minimal
- Covered by insurance: my explant surgery was not covered by insurance because it was elective. Some insurance companies will cover it if you have severe complications and the surgery is recommended by a doctor
Unlike after my implant surgery (it felt like a piano was dropped on my chest), when I woke up from explant surgery I had minimal pain. In fact, I actually went home and vacuumed. My husband had to make me sit down and watch Disney movies.
I immediately felt so much relief from the pressure of the implants.
Within 2 weeks I was back to doing light lower body exercises.
It took about 2 months for my skin and breast tissue to fully recover from the implants after they were removed. At first they looked like flat pancakes and I was preparing myself mentally to live the rest of my life like this.
I wore a compression wrap for the first month to help my skin tighten. And slowly but surely, it seemed my breast tissue plumped back up. I have no medical or scientific explanation to how this happened, but it did.
Before implant surgery I was a full B-cup and within 6 months of explant surgery, I was back to being a B-cup.
How to recover your skin quickly after explant surgery – prevent sagging and tighten skin
As I mentioned earlier I was able to have about 90% recovery of my breast tissue after surgery. My surgeon was actually amazed at my results at my 6 week follow-up appointment!
I went on to breastfeed my son for 14 months although I struggled with low milk supply. I imagine this was from damaged tissue. I worked my BUTT off to keep it up so I could provide him with milk but it wasn’t easy. I would have easily provided breastmilk longer but by the time we stopped, I was getting mere drops.
There were a few things I did that helped my skin and breast tissue recover and I will share them with you here.
Get a compression wrap:
I wore a compression wrap around my upper body in place of a bra for a month after my surgery. Something like this would be perfect and is made of all nature latex rubber.
Use a microderm roller:
After my six week appointment and once my incisions were healed, I used a microderm roller on the skin around my breasts.
This contraption looks like a small paint brush but it has little needles on it.
It sounds morbid but the way this works is the needles make little holes in your skin, which triggers your immune system to start the process of rebuilding tissue and producing collagen.
The end result is it helps your skin regenerate and tighten faster.
Essential Oils to tighten skin:
Every night I made sure to moisturize my skin with coconut oil mixed with essential oils that have skin repairing properties. These include, Neroli, Tea Tree, Frankincense, and Patchouli Essential Oils.
Drink a collagen supplement:
Your body will do a great job to heal and repair on its own after explant surgery. But it is always great to support yourself nutritionally while you are healing. I mixed this collagen powder in my water everyday after surgery for about 2 months so there was more available for my body to use to tighten my skin.
Getting breast implants is a huge decision. It is usually filled with hope for a better future and to have more self-confidence. I think most women just want to fit in with what we think we are “supposed to look like.”
Now that I am a mom I look at myself in the mirror at times and mourn the young tight body I once had. But more than ever I am working to accept myself and my body the way it is.
You are beautiful you know. I truly believe that even the most perfect looking women have their own self doubt.
I hope my story reaches you and helps you because I want you to be healthy and have no regrets.
Getting my implants out was the best decision I made for my health and my ability to breastfeed my future son.
Where are you in your journey? Do you already have breast implants and are considering explant surgery? Are you in research mode and wondering if implants will solve your body issues?
I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment.