Within a few months of her first breast augmentation in 2003, Candice Michele Barley began experiencing chronic fatigue. Although she had young children, this was far beyond the usual new mom exhaustion and her doctor dismissed her concerns.
The first implant rupture occurred two years later while doing yard work. She had both implants replaced and like many women do when they get a new set, she went a little larger. Almost right away, restless leg syndrome began keeping her awake at night.
Two years later while riding a roller coaster at her son’s birthday party, another implant ruptured and sent her back to the operating room for another double replacement. After this surgery, heart palpitations and unusual rashes appeared. Still no one considered these problems could be linked to her breast implants.
In 2011, Candice had her 4th breast surgery, swapping saline for the new silicone gel “gummy bear” implants. This was when things really took a turn for the worse.
In this first episode of our mini-series about breast implant illness with actress Candice Michele Barley, hear how after many difficult years of trying to fix her health on her own and find answers she made the decision to have her breast implants removed.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to The Holistic and Scientific Podcast with board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Whitfield, Austin’s natural choice for plastic surgery and the expert in smart laser and energy treatments.
Dr. Whitfield (00:21):
Well, I’m very excited today. This is my very first guest on my podcast, Holistic plus Scientific, and it’s Candice, Candice Barley. She’s an actress, a mother. She recently moved from Los Angeles to Austin. So I want everybody to give Candice a warm welcome.
Well, thank you. I’m very honored to be here and yeah, it’s just been an incredible journey and I’m excited to talk to you. This has just kind of organically come about. I’ve only been sharing for about four weeks, really publicly. I did share initially in a red carpet interview about a week before my explant surgery because I was, I was so sick and I was so tired of what I felt like the truth that had been kept from me. So, because I had never once considered that it could be my breast implants that was making me ill.
Dr. Whitfield (01:13):
Well, you know, honestly, I never thought I’d have guests on my podcast, but then we started, uh, communicating and we met, and it seemed like a very natural fit for us to have you come on the show and be the very first guest. So let’s go back to the beginning and tell us a little bit about your journey and we’ll just let that evolve. So the audience understands why you’re on today.
Yeah, absolutely. I had children young. I had my first at 20, I had my second at 22 and after breastfeeding two children, I was left with no breast tissue. And I mean, none, I was, I think they say a AAA, but even that didn’t really work. And I still had unhealed trauma from being bullied as a kid in middle school and high school and had a horrific time where girls would bully me in the locker room, like out of a movie. I thought I had recovered from that, but once I was flat again, I just wanted to feel feminine. And so I decided to get implants. That was in about 2003 and I only wanted to be a B cup. And so I got them that’s, uh, you know, saline, mentor, round, whatever the smaller 250 CCs and within about six months started experiencing, uh, significant chronic fatigue.
And, um, to the point that I went to the doctors and said, I think maybe I have a thyroid issue. I’m, I’m so tired. I cannot stay awake. And they said, oh, it’s just cuz you have two children under four. I said, well, but I had two children under two, a newborn who was sick. I was breastfeeding around the clock and I was never this tired. Something’s wrong. Well, all your labs look fine. So two years later I was doing some yard work and one of them ruptured. And so I was panicked. I had a flat tire <laugh> it looked like. So I went back, they exchanged both implants at the same time, said, oh, we need to pump ’em up a little bit, went up to 300 something. And within about six weeks of that, I began having restless leg syndrome where it just felt like there was tingling in my legs.
Especially at night, kept me up. Two years later, I had another saline rupture. I was riding roller coaster for my son’s birthday. So they did a double implant exchange. After that I began having even more symptoms, started having heart palpitations and my skin was breaking out. I was just not feeling well. The chronic fatigue increased. I was doing all kinds of, trying to be healthy. Things would get better than they would get much worse. So then when they offered gel implants again, I think that was around 2011. I switched ’em out for the gummy bear gel implants. And that is when I really took a turn as far as hormone issues, gut issues. I could hardly eat anything without my stomach bloating up. And, and I just everything that you can check off on the box of BII symptoms I began having. And so I really dug into doing cleanses and trying all different kinds of things and I would get a little better and then I would get much worse. Until finally I was bedridden. My liver enzymes were through the roof, my spleen, my gallbladder, my kidneys, all of my labs were horrible. My liver enzymes were doubling every four weeks. I was scheduled for a liver biopsy. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t stay awake for more than three or four hours. I had full body tremors that started just as internal tremors and eventually got to the point that my legs and hands would shake without me being able to control it. I was a wreck and that’s when I discovered that it was potentially my breast implants.
Dr. Whitfield (05:21):
What year was that?
June 28th, 2019 is when I got my explant. And because I was so, my liver was in such a poor state, I was concerned about general anesthesia. I had never had all the testing done to find out. I did find out one test, which was the MTHFR, found that out, that I had that gene mutation.
Dr. Whitfield (05:43):
There’s something unique in your story that having listened to over probably a thousand of these types of stories, the liver enzyme changes is super abnormal.
Dr. Whitfield (05:59):
Yeah. That is a supremely uncommon finding. The majority of patients who I’ve seen with this issue, breast implant illnesses, is what we’re discussing. It comes with a lot of what are just, as you described a lot of vague symptoms that are associated with lots of other things like toxic mold exposures, or environmental toxic exposures or Lyme disease or somebody who’s had little ones and they’re fatigued from taking care of their, their kids, or they just don’t feel well from a thyroid condition or something like that. But to have really abnormal liver function tests is a very bad sign for everybody who’s listening. Your liver is the, basically outside of your skin, which is the largest organ in your body, the largest organ inside your body is your liver <laugh>. So it handles and detoxifies the things that you get exposed to. And Candice already mentioned what has become a very nouveau riche thing to discuss, which is MTHFR, a mutation in your methylation pathway. And listening to Candice talk, she definitely is someone who can’t methylate well. Restless legs, nerve symptoms, they’re very consistent problems that I see with people who don’t methylate well, who have breast implant illness. So that’s a really incredible story and turnaround like an end organ type situation, which is supremely just uncommon in my experience.
Yeah, the, the other thing was my cholesterol was through the roof, uh, because I wasn’t being able to process fats, even though I was on a Mediterranean diet, like I was eating avocado and salmon and I was doing all of the things correctly that should have been helping, yet I was getting sicker.
Dr. Whitfield (07:55):
As you mentioned, you went to probably several doctors along this time that you’re, you’re having these symptoms. And I know from my perspective why I do what I do, but it’s a experience laden issue for physicians of any type and physicians don’t really have this experience cuz they don’t understand, or haven’t been taught about this as a, as a problem. And so when you, when you have somebody show up like you who a hepatologist, which is a liver doctor would say, wow, Candice, you’re really young. Were you a drinker? Do you have hepatitis, IV drug abuser? These are all the questions. I’m sure you were asked.
Dr. Whitfield (08:36):
And I drank zero alcohol.
Dr. Whitfield (08:39):
And when you denied them, they would be like, “you’re lying”. <laugh>
Right. You know, and none of the doctors ever brought it up. It’s of course always on the paperwork. Have you had any surgeries? And I’m like, you know, breast augmentation here, rupture here. And then I was also, I, I didn’t mention that I had for years had inflamed lymph nodes underneath my armpits and burning.
Dr. Whitfield (09:03):
Oh, you didn’t mention the burning where’s the burning at, this is a key thing. You have to describe where the burning is.
Yeah. So the burning was at the very edge, outer edge of where the breast implant is under the arm.
Dr. Whitfield (09:16):
I had it significantly more on my left side, but I always had it on both sides. And I had lumps that I would have to routinely get ultrasounds for because they would be like, these don’t feel like normal lumps. And they were always inflamed lymph nodes. I even had to get MRIs. And before the explant, they wanted to see if they were ruptured because my symptoms were so significant. I did it without the contrast dye, but they were not ruptured. There was no gel bleed, nothing like that. The remarks were that I had very thin capsules. I had severe muscle atrophy. My pectoral muscles are stitched to my second rib, I believe, was as far down as we could get them. Couldn’t raise my arms past my shoulders for a good six months.
Dr. Whitfield (10:02):
Let’s parse out what you said. Like, so it’s super important for both women who follow you, and for those who are gonna come see me or are gonna listen to this. So let’s take, you had burning pain and where was it? It was at the level of the nipple, and it went towards your armpit,
Correct. It was kind of a radiating right around the outside edge of the implant or where your breast tissue would be, not directly under your armpit, but more to the outer edge.
Dr. Whitfield (10:38):
So it’s really common. So that’s the 12th intercostal nerve. That’s what gives a lot of sensation to the nipple. And you mentioned women who don’t have sensation, that means when the implant was first placed and that pocket was stretched open where that nerve’s path was, was stretched as well. And nerves don’t like to be stretched, cut, bruised, battered in any way. You’ll get wicked nerve pain. I’ve had women tear their capsule and affect that nerve during Pilates or yoga and have excruciating nerve pain. But that’s a common problem. The other reason, women who have that symptom have it, who share your genetics are as they don’t methylate. Well, and you need to be able to methylate to help resolve nerve irritation because it’s part of the DNA repair mechanism. The other thing you mentioned was with lymph nodes. So I get this all the time. And as, as we’ve all been taught and conditioned to worry about is the lymph node in an armpit on a woman automatically means you have breast cancer.
Dr. Whitfield (11:40):
So those are always gonna get evaluated, as they should, but you had reactive lymph nodes. So you had, after that many surgeries, I don’t have a way to forensically do this, but I guarantee you as much as I can, that you had biofilm on your implants. So biofilm for everybody in the audience is a bacterial fungal mycobacterial, it’s a contaminant. And so when you have a contaminant locked inside a space in your body, your body knows that and it tries to eliminate it because that’s infected. And so your body’s way to activate your immune system is it revs everything up. And so Candice describes severe fatigue. There’s lots of reasons to have that, but think of how tired you are when you’re sick. And she was sick for multiple years and she’s having systemic signs of sickness and they’re related to how her lymph nodes drain.
Dr. Whitfield (12:36):
So they drain towards her armpit as the breast does. And so that’s, those are all reactive. And so not to get, you know, too into the weeds, but you can imagine somebody who has textured devices over a long period of time, constantly activating their immune system leads to an irritation which activates their lymphocytes. Then they get, basically, it can develop a lymphoma. And there’s a lot of things, obviously that need to be in play, but you will have these types of immune system consequences. And they’re all very like, they’re common if you’ve heard these explanations. And they’re very clear if you just listen to someone like Candice, describe them. They all make perfect sense in what she’s experienced and what she’s gone through. So I didn’t mean I didn’t want to interrupt you, but that gets me all like, oh, I know all those. <laugh>
You know, what’s something else that’s been very interesting to me, especially as I’ve researched and healed and worked with different nature paths is understanding detox pathways. And the entire time I had breast implants, I could not sweat. And I thought it was, I always thought it was like, very ladylike. Like a superpower: I don’t sweat. <Laugh> But when you’re working out and when you’re doing all these things and, and now understanding how the lymphatic drains and the importance of your body’s ability to sweat to push those toxins out, it’s no wonder that I was also having a lot of those issues.
Dr. Whitfield (14:06):
Join us next time to hear the rest of Candice’s story.
Speaker 1 (14:12):
Dr. Robert Whitfield is a board certified plastic surgeon located in Austin, Texas near 360 and Walsh Tarlton in Westlake. To learn more, go to drrobertwhitfield.com or follow Dr. Rob on Instagram @drrobertwhitfield. Links to learn more about Dr. Rob’s smart procedures and anything else mentioned on today’s show are available in the show notes. The Holistic and Scientific Podcast is a production of The Axis.