Editor’s note: this is one woman’s story about her 40-year experience with breast implants. It contains somewhat graphic details regarding the many issues she encountered which some people might find difficult to read. While she now has a clear position on breast enhancement surgery (that isn’t reconstructive), we at A Conscious Rethink appreciate that some people might disagree. Whatever your views, we encourage you to share them in the comment section below the article, but please keep them polite at all times.
Conscious rethinking has me shuddering about what I did many years ago, and all of the agony that ensued twice in my life because of one desire.
That desire was to have breast enhancement surgery. I was never satisfied. A lot of fashionable clothes never looked good, especially bathing suits. Sex was not comfortable for me because I was ashamed of my small proportions.
Like the tired old joke goes…”A husband was sent to the lingerie shop to purchase a bra for his wife. He goes in and states his purpose, and the sales lady asks him what bust size does his wife have? He, without a clue, couldn’t tell her. So she then asks if his wife was the size of cantaloupes? “Nope,” came the reply. Then she goes on through, grapefruit, oranges, and still with the negative reply from him. So then she said “eggs?” To which he then quickly and happily replied, “Yes, eggs…fried!”
Well, I can guarantee you this was my size and I was hell bent with determination to find out what I could do to solve this problem of mine.
Plastic surgery was very new to our little town back in the mid 1970’s which made it all but impossible until one of our well respected thoracic surgeons studied for breast augmentation and began to offer this secondary surgical practice.
He was an innovator, and I was a forerunner and dare devil. I had known him from the years I worked at the hospital, and promptly procured an appointment with him. After consultation, he deemed me mentally stable enough to undergo a surgery of this nature, and I was to be his first patient.
All went very well, although back then the implant was inserted into the chest wall beneath the breast, rather than through the nipple as it’s now done. Live and learn. His initial suturing was also a newly learned skill for this type of procedure. The only problem I had was a low grade fever for a few days following surgery. He prescribed an antibiotic, and he called every day to check on me.
All went well until my beloved father passed away during my recovery. Since I was living in Louisiana by then, and Hawaii being our home, my sister and I made the long flight back to the islands.
Then as the sutures started drying, I had greatly increased pain. With my ignorance now entering the picture, I put dampened compresses on the most painful underside of the left breast and thought it would help. Quite the opposite! At my father’s funeral, one of his friends was so glad to see me that he gave me a big hug. I realized straight away that I was going to pay for that hug.
I felt an instant stinging, and when we got back to my Aunt’s house, I looked in the mirror to see the implant had been squeezed halfway out of my chest. I can’t even begin to tell you what a horror that was, and the feeling I got from that sight was indescribable.
Abject fear set in and I had to wait until it was time to fly back to Louisiana to be sutured once more. This next suturing was done in a criss-cross pattern, leaving scarring that my doctor was trying to initially avoid. (I note here that silicone was used to begin with, manufactured by the Dow-Corning conglomerate).
For the next thirty years, things went by smoothly other than discomfort with wearing some types of bras. The scars hurt and I mostly went bra-less. Then, after one too many mammograms, I had an MRI that determined both implants were badly ruptured. By this point, Dow-Corning was being sued by thousands of women who sustained similar damage.
Many others, including me, also developed Connective Tissue Disease, of which I am at level three. Also, a lot of women had been further diagnosed with Lupus, and some died. I joined in the class action litigation against Dow-Corning. This lawsuit was eventually settled years later, with some women getting hundreds of thousands of dollars. I barely got enough to cover the explant surgery and the purchase of new saline implants to put back into place.
After receiving my monetary award, I consulted with a plastic surgeon who worked with me financially because I really didn’t get enough to cover his costs. But he was kindly and did me a favor, or so I thought!
The three hour surgery he had estimated, turned out to be a six hour one, with surgical staff unable to keep my 180/110 blood pressure down. Upon waking from anesthesia, I found out why my blood pressure had soared. During surgery I still felt pain but was unable to do anything about it. I have had fifteen surgeries, two live births, and this surgery was by far the worst pain I’d ever experienced. This excruciating pain also lasted for months following.
In two weeks after this surgery, I dropped from a healthy weight of 150lb, to a skeletal 120lb. I couldn’t eat, sleep or withstand the pain even with the help of painkillers every four hours. Infection set in for three months. I had to change my own dressings that were full of the pus and blood oozing from them.
Along with this came the strong smell of fetid skin, and the smell of death that I had encountered many times when caring for cancer patients. As much as the bandages covered the anchor-style incisions, I could still smell this rot with my bra and clothes on! I sobbed every time I changed dressings. Showers were torture but had to be done, and I sobbed all the more. I remained infected and on antibiotics for three months and was sick the whole time.
This second surgery – with saline implants inserted so I wouldn’t look deformed – finally healed, but it was not without its problems. The suturing material was similar to the mono-filament fishing line used to catch sharks! The scarring was massive and very painful, the nipples were terrible; one larger than the other, since they had to be removed and replaced after the new implants were installed.
In conclusion, how I wish hindsight would have come along and smacked me on the head all those years ago. I should have remained “The Titless Wonder” that I truly was.
I was a loving mother, an award-winning equestrian, a movie and film extra, a signed and published writer and songwriter, and a recording artist while living and working my songs in Nashville, Tennessee. Having breasts didn’t have one thing to do with my talents or career.
If there is but one thing I can get through to the many women who want to enhance their breasts, it is my asking them to search very deeply into their mind and soul and say, “Do I really need to maim my already beautiful body?”
Because of what happened to me, I will beg on bended knee and hope that I can persuade any who will listen, to accept the bodies you were born with and to forego the possible agony that CAN happen with this kind, or any other type of plastic surgery.
For the women who live in America, there is a current television series called “Botched.” I highly urge you to watch this program, in order for you to be able to see what women have done, and what they continue doing to their bodies… all for the sake of beauty.
Plastic surgery only produces false hope, by thinking that enhancing procedures will bring one a higher self-esteem, a better man, a glorious job, or just a better life in general. This is as far from the truth as it can be.
Self-esteem has to come from within. You have to love yourself no matter the wrapper in which you came. And finally…BREASTS DO NOT A WOMAN MAKE, trust me!
If you want to express an opinion on what you’ve read here or on cosmetic surgery in general, please leave a comment below.