Thousands of women who suffered for years with achy joints, exhaustion and memory loss say they are finally finding answers thanks to a Facebook group.
Three Metro area women say they went to numerous doctors to try to find out why they felt sick all the time and never found a cure.
They say when they discovered the breast implant illness Facebook group, they realized their implants might be making them sick.
“I couldn’t even lift a gallon of milk, couldn’t walk. The pain was unbearable,” said Sherry Jenkins, who had her breast implants removed.
“I mean I was in bed getting up to go pick my kids up from school and then laying back down because I was so exhausted,” said Amy Haney, who also got rid of her breast implants.
“It was joint pain, just bizarre joint pain like in my extremities and not being able to function,” said Tia Severino, who used to have breast implants as well.
Jenkins, Haney and Severino all got breast implants and within a year or so began feeling sick. Their symptoms kept piling on.
“Fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, you know, hair loss,” said Severino.
Breast implant illness advocates say there are more than twenty symptoms, including fatigue, numbness, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Some women feel like they’re dying.
Jenkins, Haney and Severino went to multiple doctors to try to figure out what was wrong, and got diagnoses for their various symptoms, but the pain never went away.
It wasn’t until they found the Facebook group Healing Breast Implant Illness that they say they realized their implants might be making them sick.
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“The more you talk and the more you realize from the hair loss to can’t grip … all the symptoms that I was having, there was other women have them,” said Jenkins.
“I think the group is really great because you can ask questions and just kind of sort through it so you can emotionally and psychologically come to terms with it,” said Haney.
Jenkins, Haney and Severino decided to have their breast implants removed. All three say most of their symptoms disappeared soon after surgery.
“I saw a dramatic difference, within 24 hours for me. It was very dramatic,” said Severino.
“I’ve been six months since my surgery and I am ripping carpet on my stairs and pressure washing my driveway and doing things that I couldn’t even dream of doing,” said Haney.
“The vast majority of women are either very happy with their implants or feel like they don’t have symptoms related to their implants,” said plastic surgeon Dr. Randal Rudderman.
But, he says he’s seen first-hand the dramatic difference removing implants can make.
“I’ve seen patients that have had unusual symptoms that have resolved quite rapidly within days to weeks after having explants done,” Rudderman said.
The Food and Drug Administration ordered a moratorium on silicone breast implants in 1992 due to safety concerns, but after more studies the FDA allowed them in 2006.
A lawsuit filed in California in February of 2017 alleges that some silicone implants sold by Johnson & Johnson’s Mentor subsidiary are defective and cause health problems for some women.
Mentor stands by the safety of their silicone implants. Mentor sent Channel 2 Action News a statement that reads: “At Mentor, we are guided by patient safety and science, and patients can be assured that the science and long-term data from multiple clinical studies, including two 10-year, prospective clinical trials, support the safety and efficacy of our FDA-approved breast implant products that have been chosen by surgeons for millions of women worldwide. We adhere to the highest standards of quality and closely monitor the performance of our products. We also continue to support ongoing clinical studies and share updated product safety information with surgeons in our product labeling and with patients in brochures and online as appropriate. The totality of the data and scientific literature continue to support the safety of Mentor’s silicone breast implants, and we are defending against the allegations in the lawsuit you referenced.”
Jenkins, Haney and Severino all had Mentor breast implants, but only Jenkins had silicone implants.
Jenkins is looking into taking legal action, but right now, she is thrilled to feel better.
“I’m so happy that I did because I have my life back now,” said Jenkins.
Breast implant illness is hard to track. Many women who have symptoms don’t report them to their surgeon because they don’t realize they might be connected to their implants. Researchers want to create a national breast implant registry to track that type of information.
The Healing Breast Implant Illness Facebook group has more than 23,000 members and the organizer says 90 percent of them have symptoms.
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