When asked about her decision to have a boob job at the age of 28, Biba Tanya Lincoln almost automatically trotted the same cliché justifications. "I would say," I did it for me "or" I wanted to feel more confident. "
& # 39; If I really wanted to go into it, I'd explain that breastfeeding had left my breasts wrong – one B-cup and one D-cup. But this was not the whole truth, the mother-of-three admits, now 38.
She continues: "If I had been honest, I would not do it for myself. I had it in my head that to be attractive, I had to have breasts that looked in a certain way. And, despite the fact that I was happily married, I thought it was a pretty reasonable thing to achieve. & # 39;
Bibya Tanya Lincoln, 38, from Lancashire, decided to get breast implants at the age of 28 (over, after her breast implant surgery). But she was plagued by a seemingly endless and inexplicable series of symptoms as a result – from crushing fatigue to skin problems, hair loss and debilitating pain all over her body (right after the implants were removed)
It was a decision that she regretted. A decade after the £ 4,000 magnification brought her already large bust to a striking 32F, Biba's health was shattered.
She was plagued by a seemingly endless and inexplicable series of symptoms, from crushing fatigue to skin problems, hair loss and debilitating pain all over her body.
Doctors had few answers. But she is convinced of the cause of her problems: her breast implants. And Biba is not alone.
There are thousands of women with disturbing stories that are similar to hers.
But doctors don't know exactly why it happens or how to treat them. Nowadays, because many fear that a new "toxic" implant scandal could flood the cosmetic surgery, Biba is haunted by a single question: "Why the hell did I do that to myself?"
IT WAS like my breast milk made me sick
Five years after Biba & # 39; s operation to transform her silhouette, her health began to falter. "I was losing my hair, I felt feverish and constantly exhausted," she recalls. "I was tested on everything, but I was fine. I was prescribed painkillers, but I didn't want to live off pills, so I just tolerated it and went on. & # 39;
When Biba became pregnant in 2017 with her youngest child, Lola, her symptoms accelerated. "I felt miserable and was admitted to the hospital with severe vomiting."
When the baby arrived, it didn't get any better. Biba continues: "I was still sick and Lola found it difficult to feed. It was as if my milk made her sick. My husband, Kevin, made a crazy remark about how my breasts seemed to make Lola as sick as she had made me during pregnancy.
Biba (pictured after her breast implants were removed) is just one of a growing army of women convinced that their breast implants make them sick
"That haunted me. Before I got my boob job, I learned that breastfeeding can be difficult, but it would be safe for the baby. But when I started looking online again, I was shocked. I saw stories about silicone from implants that leaked into breast milk and discovered that thousands of women with breast jobs also had the same health problems as me. It was frightening. & # 39;
Biba & # 39; s condition, she discovered online, had a name: breast implant disease. And other patients in support groups told her that the only solution was to remove the implants – so-called explant surgery. "I was in front of my doctor within a few days and insisted on a scan," says Biba. "I discovered that the left implant was ruptured and that silicone had leaked out."
After a breast prosthesis is implanted, the body responds by forming a capsule of scar tissue around it – part of the healing process.
Women who suffer from severe pain due to hardening and shrinking of the internal scar tissue – known as capsular contracture – may be eligible to have their implants removed on the NHS. Otherwise they have to pay around £ 3,500.
A Lincolnshire woman who claimed that she had developed depression and anxiety as a result of her F-cup implants, resorted to a do-it-yourself operation to remove them.
Tonia Rossington, a part-time cleaner, googled how to perform the operation before using a scalpel, a £ 2.50 bottle of disinfectant and a bag of ice to complete the procedure in March last year.
Tonia Rossington (photo), a part-time cleaner, googled how to perform the operation before using a scalpel, a £ 2.50 bottle of disinfectant and a bag of ice to complete the procedure in March last year
After performing the horrible procedure on herself – which she claimed did not hurt – she drove herself to her local A&E, where they cared for her wounds before allowing her to go home. She has fully recovered and said she hoped her story would show & # 39; how desperate some ladies can become & # 39 ;.
Even if the NHS removes implants, patients are not eligible for replacement unless the original extension procedure was funded by NHS – which is unlikely.
This means that patients can have excess, loose skin – just like Biba's case. Nevertheless, she says that having her implants has been life-changing. Her NHS Trust approved the operation and in September 2018, ten years after she had enlarged her breasts, she underwent explant.
"Within fourteen days, almost all of my symptoms had disappeared," she says.
& # 39; Without implants, my breasts look like empty carrier bags. But to be free from all pain and endless exhaustion, it is worth it. & # 39;
A LOOSE REQUIREMENT FOR & # 39; EXPLANT & # 39; OPS
Biba is just one of a growing army of women who is convinced that their breast implants make them sick. Many years ago with unexplained symptoms such as fatigue, "brain fog" and memory loss, insomnia, depression, muscle and joint pain and hair loss.
Others report digestive problems, mysterious rashes and other skin problems. But breast implant disease is not an official medical diagnosis. There is no test for it.
Studies that were looking for a definitive link between breast implants and immune system disorders that can cause these symptoms have failed. And there is no treatment.
Although removing the implant helps some women, others continue to show symptoms.
Silicone implants are often blamed by patients. But people with another common type filled with sterile salt water are also affected.
In the absence of sound medical knowledge, awareness of breast implant diseases has spread through online support groups.
Although removal of the implant helps some women, others continue to show symptoms (photo, stock image)
One Facebook group, Healing From Breast Implant Illness, now has nearly 100,000 members – double the number at the beginning of the year.
And the number of women looking for breast implant removal in the US, where more than 300,000 women have breast augmentation annually, is increasing. Between 2015 and 2018, American watchdogs from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported a 30 percent increase in explant operations – from 38,000 to nearly 50,000 last year.
The picture is less clear in the UK. Women who identify themselves as breast implant disease are starting to be seen, although there are no official figures.
With an estimated 25,000 British women a year with breast augmentation surgeries – and around 3,500 with implants as part of the reconstruction – some surgeons are afraid that we will see more cases soon.
This new syndrome is the newest in a series of controversies about breast augmentation. In the 1980s, thousands of women in America and the UK reported similar, diverse symptoms that they attributed to their implants that leaked silicone into their bodies & # 39 ;.
Chemical producer Dow Corning, who made most of the prostheses at the time, initially denied the link.
Later a multi-billion dollar lawsuit in 1998 led to the company's bankruptcy – although studies showed that the implants were safe.
More recently, the British government ordered an urgent safety assessment in 2012 amid reports that implants made by the French company Poly Implant Prophèse, filled with industrial-grade silicone – the type used in mattresses – had been given to 40,000 British women.
WOMEN SHOULD BE TELLED FROM THE IMPLANT RISK & # 39; S
In 2014, The Mail on Sunday was the first newspaper to report the emergence of a new cancer that was apparently caused by a response to certain types of breast implants.
This disease, known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma associated with breast implants, or BIA-ALCL, is now believed to affect up to one in 3000 women who have certain types of breast implants.
The number affected by breast implants can, however, be much higher than all these incidents combined.
So what's the matter? "At the moment there are more questions than answers," admits plastic surgeon Marc Pacifico, who is involved in a British task force looking at the problem. "No research has shown a link between silicone implants and all of these reported problems."
In a profit-making company, the risk for patients is a side issue, says EVE SIMMONS
Experts demand that women who opt for breast implants should be warned about all health risks – including cancer and now breast implant disease. But will that actually happen? I am concerned that the answer might be no.
Earlier this year I went undercover in an attempt to investigate the breast implant industry. I was shocked at what I found: a shameless trade, more worried about getting me signed on the dotted line for expensive surgery than telling me about health risks.
Of the five leading clinics examined, only two warned of the full, life-threatening extent of the risks.
Regarding the known cancer risk, one surgeon did not mention this at all. He and his clinic staff were far too busy to suggest that I go for the largest implants I can handle. Another surgeon mentioned the cancer risk, but then encouraged a patient to consider fat-removing liposuction, as well as a boob job.
In an industry that is driven by profit, the safety of women seems to be a side issue.
And those who do the knife work are often very unregulated, with the free hand to do what they want.
So it's up to future patients to arm themselves with the facts before they make this life-changing decision.
If you read the spooky stores of these women, you wonder if having larger breasts is really worth such a risk.
Websites for breast implants often mention research that shows that women with breast implants are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia (a condition that causes muscle pain and fatigue), arthritis and connective tissue disorders, including Lupus.
"But these usually depend on questionnaires, which are notoriously unreliable," warns Mr. Pacifico. "We know that women who choose to fill them in are more inclined to worry, which skews the results."
The enormous size of the symptoms makes it difficult to determine what is going on, says Dr. William Adams, an American plastic surgeon who conducts research on breast implants on the other side of the Atlantic.
"Up to 95 different symptoms have been described by patients," he says. Despite this absence of evidence, breast surgeon Fiona MacNeill of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust says: "If you had asked me ten years ago if breast implants could cause cancer, I would have categorically said no.
"But we now know they do that. Can implants also cause these other problems? The answer is that we just don't know. & # 39;
Pacifico agrees: "These women have very real symptoms.
"Today I speak with patients considering breast augmentation about breast implants. It is important that they know that it exists when they make their decision. & # 39;
Implants are usually made from a sturdy silicone dish filled with a rubbery gel – also silicone – with a texture that is not comparable to a jelly baby.
When an implant bursts – as happens in about one percent of the cases per year – the filling rarely moves far.
Even more unusual is that someone escapes from the scar tissue around the implant.
However, to ensure that no one is doing this, breast implant support groups recommend that the implant and the surrounding scar capsule be removed in one piece – a procedure known as a bloc-capsulectomy.
Miss MacNeill explains: "This is a challenging operation.
"It takes two to three hours and includes a much larger incision than that used to insert an implant. Recovery can be painful. & # 39;
Dr. Adams says: "Some practitioners exploit vulnerable women by telling them they need this operation.
& # 39; But risk & # 39; s can involve the removal of large amounts of breast tissue and even muscles, and this can even cause collapsed lungs.
"And there is no evidence that a block capsulectomy is more effective than other methods of removing implants."
Women who suffer from severe pain due to hardening and shrinking of the internal scar tissue – known as capsular contracture – may be eligible to have their implants removed on the NHS. Otherwise they have to pay around £ 3,500 (photo, a woman examines a breast implant)
& # 39; I was sweating and lost my sex drive & # 39;
Another patient who was convinced that her breast implants have destroyed her health is Stephany Meissner, a mentor from Bristol.
The married mother of two first underwent breast augmentation at the age of 44 in 2008, bringing her breasts from a 32AAA to a 32C.
The symptoms only started in 2012. "I was extremely tired and started getting sick every day," says Stephany, now 45. "I was also sweating terribly and completely lost my desire for sex. Tests have shown that my hormones were normal. & # 39;
Last year Stephany read an article about the link to cancer with breast implants and became a member of an online support group.
"I quickly decided to undergo an explant operation," she says.
Stephany could not afford the operation in the UK – she was deregistered for work due to her condition – in June Stephany flew to Istanbul, Turkey, where she paid £ 1,300 to have her implants removed.
"I tried to get the operation on the NHS, but I was rejected because my implants had not ruptured," she says.
Stephany says her symptoms are improving now.
Just like Stephany, Biba hopes her story will keep women from having implants.
"We are surrounded by messages telling us that we need a perfect cleavage, otherwise men won't like us," she rages.
"I only thought that because my breasts were not & # 39; perfect & # 39; were less like a woman.
"I am furious that I have put my health and the health of my children at risk. How could I have been so stupid? & # 39;
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