My story is about the replacement of my ruptured 21-yr. old silicone implants that had leaked and become extra-capsular and the challenges and result of such a journey. This is a positive story which I want to share, so that others who may go through this are not terrified as I was. There is a lot of conflicting info about implants out there and many are biased against them. This is my honest account, both good and bad. My story begins in 1987 when, after having 4 children and nursing them all, I underwent a breast augmentation with 250cc. silicone implants. I was very thin and this size, although conservative, brought me from an A cup to a B cup which is what I was before my children. Over the years I would regret that I hadn't gone larger, but they were so natural-looking that no one but my husband and I knew they were "fake". I had no complications, except for some major keloid scarring which persisted for years.
Fast forward to 2004 when I went for a routine mammogram. Even though I told the technician that I had implants she compressed my breasts so hard that I was bruised and sore for weeks. I had pain off and on for the next 4 years which I attributed to being in my late 40's and hormonal changes. Little did I know that in all probability my aging implants had ruptured. With old-style silicone implants the breast changes due to rupture are not immediate. A lump began forming in the upper quadrant of my left breast and in time reached up to my collarbone. I did not have insurance so I kept putting off another mammogram until 2007 when it was determined that both implants were ruptured and that the left one had gone extra-capsular, with silicone granulomas (tumors) which was the lump I was feeling. ( Please keep in mind that this was the old silicone which was fluid and could migrate.) An MRI was ordered and panic set in.
I was naive in thinking that all I had to do was go back to my original PS and have my implants replaced. I would soon learn that the cleanup of free silicone that had the consistency of honey and adhered itself to tissue was a delicate and complicated operation. I left my PS office in tears when he told me he did not feel qualified to do the surgery. He referred me to another doctor who then referred me to 2 other doctors who also didn't want to take my case. I began to have pain down my arm, chest pains and a persistent rash on my chest.
I grew frantic, wondering if anyone could help me; reading scary things on the internet did nothing to ease my fears. It was by God's grace that I found my wonderful surgeon at a major hospital who calmly reassured me that he could indeed do the surgery and I would not be disfigured. Because I would lose tissue I chose larger implants (550 cc.) and I went with saline this time.
The day of my surgery I had to be at the hospital 3 hours early. I was scared, thirsty, and tired of waiting. By the time they finally wheeled me down the hall on the stretcher to the OR, it was a relief to be put under. My doctor reassured me that he would get out as much silicone as possible, while making my breasts beautiful and then I fell asleep. The next thing I remember is feeling intense pain and pressure and going in and out of consciousness in the recovery room. I was put under at 2:00 p.m. and did not wake up until 8:30 p.m.
My surgery had taken a long time and I had lost a lot of blood so I was slow coming out of the anesthesia. I had complete capsulectomies of both breasts, excision of the granulomas and the silicone, and re-augmentation. There had been profuse bleeding and it took great effort on my doctor's part to stop it. It was recommended I stay overnight but I knew that a night's stay would add another $1,000 to my bill so I went home.
My recovery was rough...I'm not going to lie. I felt like a carved-up Thanksgiving turkey. I had drains under my armpits for 6 days and my left incision continued to bleed for 8 weeks. I stayed propped up in bed for 2 weeks, unable to move an inch without assistance or great pain. The much larger implants on my battered chest felt humongous and my sternum felt like it was being cracked open from the pressure. The compression bandages made me feel like I couldn't breathe, I was so tightly wrapped. My pain meds didn't even begin to diminish the pain so I stopped taking them and just endured it.
When the bandages came off on the 6th day and the drains were removed I was terrified to look. I was afraid that I would look as bad as I felt. When my doctor smiled and told me to look in the mirror I could not believe my eyes. There was absolutely no bruising and they looked like they had always been there, with none of that strange high shaping I had with the first augmentation. I had prepared myself for the worst and they were just perfect. They were already settled nicely in place, with a completely natural slope to them and perfect symmetry. I did not have to massage them since they were textured, so there was not that added element of discomfort. The weeks passed and so did the pain. In time I felt wonderful and my breasts have been pain-free ever since. I LOVE them!
There are people who will emphatically state that silicone breast implants will make you ill and they have the right to believe what they believe. I am not clear on whether my ruptured implants have harmed me, and the truth is, I simply do not know. There are many who think that saline is harmful as well, and that the shells of all implants (because they are made of silicone) are harmful....and that no implant is safe. It was my personal decision to be re-implanted and I am confident that I made the right choice in doing so. I do have a couple of health problems, but one existed long before my first augmentation and the other came about at the time of my rupture, which may (or may not) have occurred regardless. I do know that I will always have trace amounts of silicone throughout my body and in my liver because of the rupture, but I don't live my life worrying about it.
It has been 6 months since my operation and I am extremely happy with the results. I am fighting the keloid scarring by using silicone strips (more silicone!!) and they are helping. The left scar will always be longer and thicker, since my doctor had to do so much work so high up in my chest and because it oozed for 8 weeks and kept opening up. But my breasts are BEAUTIFUL!! They are jiggly and natural-looking and perfectly shaped.
My nipples are exactly in the center.
I have full sensation in my breasts. Except for a tiny fold in the bottom of the right implant which can be felt through the skin, I have no rippling. I worried that because we used textured saline and I would have little tissue left that the implants would ripple. But my breasts are soft and squishy and that little bump that pokes out a little is there to remind me that it could have been far worse. I chose a great doctor and the perfect size. I am full and voluptuous without looking huge.
I know that most women today will not have the same complications if their implants rupture that I had because of the new and improved silicone. But in case there are some ladies out there with older implants in place and find themselves in my situation, I felt compelled to share my story. I needed to let them know they don't have to panic. There is hope and you do have options. Stay away from websites and people who want to scare you to death, literally. Sometimes imagining the worst WILL make you sick.
My surgery was not cheap.....it cost me nearly $12,000....but it was worth it.
Children: 4, breastfed 4
Weight: 143 lbs.
Size: I went from an A cup to a D cup
Implant Manufacturer: Inamed/Allergan (formerly McGhan)
Implant Fill: Saline
Implant Size (cc's): 550 cc's, filled to 580 cc's
Implant Profile: Regular
Implant Shape: Round
Implant Surface: Textured
Implant Placement: Under the muscle
Incision: Crease (inframammary)