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

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.

Breast Implant Removal Results: My Explant Surgery Story

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.

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. I also got a lift at the time of explant so I wouldn’t have deflated water balloons.) 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

Read about my recovery and healing timeline after surgery.

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336 Comments

  1. Morgan on March 22, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for sharing. I am scheduled to have breast plant replacement and a tummy tuck along with diastasis recti and hernia repair on Dec, 17. I would love to see some before and afters of the tummy if you are willing to share because you sound similar to me in that area.

  2. Erica on April 1, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Can I ask the name of the doctor you used in Atlanta? I am considering having mine removed.

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      dr Ghazi! He’s the best

    • Ginny on October 21, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks. I’m 63 and have had my implants for 35 years. I just had a mammogram and one is ruptured. And I never was told implants had a life span. This really confirmed my decision to have them removed and not replaced. Thanks again so much.

      • Eva on April 14, 2019 at 4:01 pm

        I had my first set in 1974 and maybe 7 after that. Now at 64 I have replace them again. I didn’t have any breast tissue at all at 19. My question is if I remove them and have a lift without replacing them what whould they look like?

        • Trucia on June 10, 2019 at 11:37 pm

          I had no breast tissue at 18but have gained 100 pounds. I didn’t know my implant ruptured

    • Marilyn Velazquez on May 1, 2019 at 8:39 am

      Hi my name is Marilyn and I would love to share the experience of my implant removal I would love to share the illness before I had to remove for six years I was very ill and had no idea what was going on I had a terrible accident before I realized that it was my implants I went to see a physical therapist and he suggested the removal of the implants the accident was so horrible that I fell on my face cuz I had a blackout which I was starting to get many of and I broke my jaw and my nose I lost my teeth I said that I lost my job of 24 years had to retire at 55 I was constantly sick I couldn’t move my blood work always wrong either I had thyroid or had lupus or my immune system was down I was getting infusions for my blood it was just a rollercoaster I would love to share this story women so they can understand what they’re getting into and do more research I am still recovering this is my seventh year I just had my implants removed it’s going to be 2 months and I’m finally starting to feel normal I would love to share my story there is so much more to tell how many fools how many stitches how many blackouts car accidents and everything else how many years of my life I lost by being in bed weddings birthday parties grandchildren I would love to put it out there.

      • Tennille on September 20, 2019 at 10:40 am

        Please share your story on https://m.facebook.com/groups/1769813939904203 I can’t wait to have mine removed as well. I had saline implants put in 2011 and started getting very sick due to living in mold which was a distraction for me, I thought all of my symptoms were from the mold… well I have been out of the mold for 6 years. I have been eating clean, taking natural supplements can’t hardly exercise I get exhausted and then can’t function well the rest of the day 🙁 I also began having seizures in 2014. I had no idea it could be linked to my implants until a couple of weeks ago, I am positive it is related! Thankful that prayers have been answered as to what was going on with my body! I am anxiously waiting for an appointment for a phone consult and removal in Jan or February of 2020! Wish it were today!

  3. Patty on June 9, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    I had my implants drained and now have to wait 6 weeks for my lift my breast look horrible. My question is I have a physical job and need to go back to work asap. I can’t take two weeks off work. Is it that bad

    • Fitnessista on June 10, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      yes, i would say you absolutely need 2 weeks off (or more if your doctor says) from heavy lifting. it’s not worth messing up your results or delaying/hindering the healing process
      hang in there <3

      • Gina on January 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

        hi, there! Im having my implants removed next month after having them in for 17 plus years. Since having them in I have had 3 kids and breastfeeding. Right now i wear a 34 DD but thats only because the bottom of breast needs DD but the top of breast is way to small for DD. Dr. said that it feels like i am mostly implant and that it doesn’t feel like i have a lot of breast tissue, and she said I will be very small, an A cup. I don’t know if that means flat as a board A or a little something, I have no idea what Ill wake up to. I am so nervous, but i don’t want to put anything in again. The dr, said she really can’t say exactly because she won’t know till she takes it out and looks at my tissue. I guess my question is what cup size did u end up with, and was it a huge mental adjustment? My implants still look good and are just recently starting to cause some discomfort. I just want to be done with them, they are old. Im just looking for insight on going from boobs to maybe suuuuper small. Thank you!

        • Fitnessista on January 11, 2019 at 12:09 am

          hi name twin 🙂
          so i was a full 34C (could wear a D) before i had them taken out and now i’m a 34A. it was kind of a big adjustment at first, but not too crazy because i’m the same size i was before implants. the lift really helped and i highly recommend it! i feel like mine would be sad and droopy if i didn’t do the lift. i’m still getting used to having small boobs again (all of my shirts feel huge on me) but i’m so so happy i did it.

  4. Carina on July 21, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Thanks for your story. I’m also thinking about removing my implants. It’s only been 6 years but one is really starting to hurt. Trying to decide if I should replace or be done with them all together. Concerned about how deflated the team might look. What size were you originally? Did the lift help? Thx.

  5. Kristen on September 18, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Hi there! I really want to have my implants removed but plan on having another baby in the near future. Do you suggest waiting? Doing a lift and tummy tuck and the explant all at once? Or juts get them out? Feeling desperate

    • Fitnessista on September 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      this is such a tough one. how soon do you want to have another baby?
      i got to the point where i couldn’t wait to have my implants out. i couldn’t have waited another year plus to do it. you could always split up the surgeries, but it’s nice to have one recovery. i would join the Facebook group and ask the ladies there– i’m sure some will chime in who had to make the same decision and can share their experience

  6. Stephanie on October 7, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    hi,
    I am thinking of doing an explant after I have my baby. I am currently pregnant and will try to breastfeed after for at least 10 months then do my explant. Since I will try to have another child after. Mine are almost 10 years old , it still feels great, no complications but I wanted it out before any complications happen. Did you have an enbloc procedure? were you still able to breastfeed after you have the surgery? how long was the healing period? Do you mind to share how much the procedure cost or what price range I would be looking at? thank you.

  7. Stephanie Mapes on October 25, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Your post has helped me in preparing for my explant surgery in December. I am nervous and scared but I have been in increasing pain in my breasts and back the last couple months that I know it is the right decision. Whenever I move or workout I can feel them moving around in my chest, which is a really weird feeling that I am excited not to have anymore. I am also getting a lift, how did your scars turn out? I am worried about how that part of it will look for me.

  8. Jo on November 8, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Hi!
    Thank you for sharing. Did you write more about your recovery and possible tips after surgery?

  9. Shannon Kilbourn on January 6, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Can you please tell me the name of the surgeon in Atlanta? I love they’re and want to explant. Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on January 6, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Dr Ghazi!

  10. Heather on February 1, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    I just had mine removed and used Dr Ghazi! He’s fantastic!

    • Fitnessista on February 4, 2019 at 12:00 am

      isn’t he the best?! i hope you heal amazingly.

  11. Karen O’Brien on March 21, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    You are so lucky that you had the opportunity to love your implants and love having them removed. I think you made really good decisions for yourself. I would love to have my implants removed. I’ve never liked them. Never wanted them either. I had bilateral mastectomies last year and wanted autologous reconstruction but was told I was too skinny. Now I have these implants that are totally visible under my skin. They feel like sandwich bags filled with wet sand. They are much larger than my natural breasts. I want them removed but also don’t want to be left with absolutely nothing. I guess we can’t have everything. I should just be grateful that I don’t have cancer.

    • Bryana on September 26, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      I’m a little concerned about explant after reconstruction too 🙁 Not worries that I’ll have nothing (I already know that!) but worried about how lumpy I’ll look. And also because my surgeon used that mesh piece and is supposed to, like, grow into your skin. I know my skin is thin after bilateral mastectomy so I’m worried about them scraping that mesh out :(. Has anyone on here removed implants after reconstruction surgery?

  12. “Out”-plant mom on April 8, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Your story is so similar to mine… silicone implants for 12 years and after my 3rd baby who is now 2, I started feeling burning and aching in my breasts. It’s seems like it gets worse every day! I want to rip them out like no body’s business…I’m scheduled for explant later this summer, but my question to you is… when they were explanted and the doctor opened the capsule, were they ruptured? I’m wondering if the burning is because they are ruptured and (like your naturopath said) it’s our body’s immune system reacting.

  13. Mash on April 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Hi. Thank you for such an honest insight.
    I have 5 children and I have breastfed them ALL!! I’m currently a 34C but very droopy. Going to have a tummy tuck but very tempted to have implants as lack volume in upper pole. I know I might sound ungreatful but it’s hard to feel pretty with all the big bosom women around 🙁 I don’t mind if they need changing every 8:10 years.

    • Adeola Smith on July 23, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      Don’t do it. I am having to deal with so much pain and illness as a result of implants. I am calling my doctor to get them removed. I would rather have my health than feel sick and fatigued all the darn time.

      • DENISE ANDERSON on August 9, 2019 at 8:51 am

        Totally agree with adeola, so not worth it. I am scheduling to remove ASAP after 12 years
        When and if you experience the burning pain you will immediately regret it

        • Bryana on September 26, 2019 at 1:05 pm

          Everyone is different. Personally I have no burning or pain at all. I had implants for about 10 years before my bilateral mastectomy (with no noticeable issues) (nursed two babies) and now have had the new ones for five years. My issues for the last couple years are fatigue, brain fog, dry lips, hormonal acne, dry hair, weird fingernails, joint pain …

    • Bryana on September 26, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      A lift is amazing! And you can do fat grafts to fill them in as well (but, just so you know, there are real side effects after liposuction). I did the fat grafting after reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. I’m still numb in the areas where they removed fat (3 years later). Let’s just say that I’m positive Kim Kardashian has just about NO sensation in most of her body

  14. Donna on October 14, 2019 at 10:24 am

    I am 5 days post op from a breast implant removal and lift. I had my implants done 20 years ago when I was 33. I went from an A cup to a C cup. I knew I made a mistake immediately. I hated them. I started menopause at 40. My natural breasts grew to the point that I could barely fit in s D cup. I have been miserable all of these years. I had to buy XL tops, which made me look fat. I had to buy minimizer bras & underwire We are not rich, and I felt too guilty to pay to have them removed. I just had a lump found on a mammogram and a biopsy. It turned out to be a calcium deposit, but that was it for me. It’s hard to tell what size I will be, but I am thrilled.I will happily take my old A cup back. I do not believe that women look into the future when they get breast implants.

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