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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Silicone Breast Implants: Platinum Suzy's story

I worked for a national real estate company as a District Manager for nearly 19 years. I started with them in Houston, was transferred to Richmond, VA, then to Orlando and eventually to Nashville, where I have lived for the past nine years. In December of 2004, I was informed that all of my properties were going to be sold and that I would be laid off effective 5/1/05. This was fine. I was building a house and very busy with my son and my elderly parents, so the timing was very good for me personally. I had planned to take off the remainder of 2005 and return to work 1/1/06. I was turning 50 in November and my present to myself was breast implant surgery. I contacted a local teaching hospital and was told that they were having a clinical trial for silicone implants. When asked if they were safe, I was told that they had used them for 30 years and had never had any problems. I signed up, paid the $6,000 and had the surgery on 11/9/05.

Almost immediately I began to have unusual health symptoms. These included: neck, back and left shoulder pain, ringing in ears, dizziness, problems with depth perception, blurred vision, achy joints, fatigue, heart palpitations, memory problems, insomnia, tingling/numb hands and feet, twitching muscles, difficulty swallowing, and a metallic taste in my mouth. Prior to this, I had experienced only one of these symptoms - back pain resulting from a volleyball injury.

I spent all of 2006 getting sicker and sicker and more desperate to find out what was happening to me. Every day I would wake up with something new terribly wrong. By July I was terrified that I was going to die. I spent all my time in bed or in doctors' offices. At one point, I called my daughter and asked her to take my 12-year old son if something happened to me. I had never been ill like this before and never had to consult a specialist for any of these symptoms. The pain in my neck was so severe that I had cervical fusion performed on 8/2/06. Every doctor I was seeing and every physical therapist advised against this surgery after reviewing the results of the MRI's, but I felt this was the only option I had. Unfortunately, they were right. This surgery did not alleviate any of the symptoms I was having.

Sometime in September, my breasts began to ache and became hard. I visited my primary care doctor and my OB-GYN of eight years and they confirmed that I had developed contracture of the silicone implants. They were removed on 9/29/06. I never considered the problems to be connected to the silicone implants because I had saline implant surgery in November, 1995. I had no problems with these-no contracture, but I thought I needed to have the saline implants changed out because there was some rippling on the sides of my breasts. (I am on the thin side and the edge of the implant could be felt). Within a few weeks of the explant surgery, many symptoms were gone. By six months, all symptoms were gone with the exception of severe neck and thoracic back pain (which I still have every day and continue to do physical therapy for) and cognitive/memory issues that my doctor believes is due to the trauma of being so ill during the time I had the silicone implants. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the diagnosis.)

Two doctors at the same medical facility have told me that I had a reaction to the chemicals in the implants. Although I do not fully understand the process that made me sick, I believe that my symptoms were caused by nerve inflammation due to exposure to the chemicals in the implants. I was tested for platinum and it was found in three different oxidation levels-0, +2 and +4 in my urine. I have asked INAMED for a list of the other chemicals, but they did not respond to my certified letter.

I have spent about $30,000 for the privilege of participating in the silicone research trial, the explantation, MRI's, and over 100 office visits to diagnose and treat my health problems. I am also uninsurable as a result of the treatments I have received.

However, the good news is that the vast majority of women get better once the implants are removed.

Advice to women thinking of having breast implants: Be sure to do your research first.

Read another of our breast implant stories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have very similar symptoms.

I started out with saline implants and developed an aggressive form lymphoma in the pericapsular space surrounding one of the implants. I was explanted, with "partial mastectomy" and reconstructed at the same time with cohesive gel silicone implants.

I had six rounds of chemotherapy. I am disease free, however, I've since developed an auto-immune thyroid problem as well as most of the symptoms you listed. I had attributed my complaints to the chemo effects. Now wondering if its the platinum from the newer implants.

I scan journal articles and have found the lymphoma I had is appearing to be an emerging entity associated with breast implants. Time will tell.

I've also been labeled with PTSD. Feeling more like I have dementia at times and I've had to leave my very demanding, fast paced job for something less demanding physically as I am toasted, physically and mentally daily by mid afternoon.