After many years of research, detoxing on her own, and testing for anything and everything she could think of, Candice finally realized her chronic illnesses were breast implant-related and decided to explant.
Just the decision to have surgery made her immediately feel better as she set herself on the path to heal. A few weeks after explant surgery, she finally saw her endocrinologist who was surprised by her new lab results, and canceled the upcoming liver biopsy.
The persistent restless leg syndrome she had for 15 years was gone, but other strange (and smelly) things started happening as her body recovered. In this second episode of our mini-series about breast implant illness, hear why Candice has no regrets about this long, strange journey.
- Listen to Part 1: 15 Years of Mysterious Illness
- Follow Candice on Instagram
- Follow Dr. Rob on Instagram
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.
Within eight weeks of getting my surgery, my labs had returned to normal and they canceled my liver biopsy. I had finally gotten in with the endocrinologist, which I had been waiting to get in for, for months and months and months. And this was post explant, even though I’d made the appointment months before my explant. And she said, “I had to triple check, because I thought that this was a mistake because your labs look like that of a 90 year old nursing home patient. What did you do? Eight weeks ago?” And I said, “I had explant surgery, I had my breast implants removed. And she didn’t even know how to respond. So the proof was in the blood work for me and how I began feeling. Now because I was so sick, I had a very difficult time recovering from the general anesthesia. I was slurring my words for weeks, but as my liver started functioning better, as I started adding in different detox protocols.
Within six months, the tremors were completely gone. Within six months, the restless leg that I had had for 15 years was gone. And the entire time I had breast implants, I could not sweat. And let me tell you, after I got my implants out, I could sweat, but the smell that was coming, it was like burning plastic. It was a chemical smell for a good six months. That was shocking because it’s not something that the human body should be able to smell like it smelled like burning plastic, which was so crazy, but incredible, the, the body’s ability to heal and try to push those things out.
Dr. Whitfield (02:00):
Even all the audits we’ve done of cases we’ve had, it’s very difficult in a, a non-research environment like ours, a aesthetic surgery environment to get the data regarding what’s in the space at the time. So I can tell you for, for our audience, I know what type of biofilm is there in my audit, but I can’t tell you about any kind of heavy metal or other chemical that’s been given off at the time, that’s trapped in the capsule, which I think is important. But it’s really hard to get that information in a tangible way. And anybody who’s ever listened to me speak knows I, I only speak from as much evidence as I can provide someone. I don’t, I don’t speculate on things. The detox pathways, those are interesting. Probably in your experience since you’ve had to go this alone for most of the time and get help from a variety of providers. But I think I find that more frightening for my clients than anything. So I became certified in toxicity just to help them navigate that better. So why don’t you go ahead and, uh, I’m sure that was quite the, uh, not to minimize the journey to explant or things that happened after, but when you talk about detox, I think that’s a, like it’s Pandora’s box basically.
Well, absolutely. And everyone’s bio-individual and has different things going on in their systems. And so it would be really wonderful to have access to individualized care dependent on what you are dealing with and how your body, what those detox pathways look like. But for me, I feel like ,had I known what I know now, but there was no support offered for when you have implants or if you’re sick with implants. And so I feel like I, I could have not gotten to the state that I was in, had I known that was what was going on through different testing and supplements or different things that I could have done to support my body once I was getting sick or having those symptoms, until I was able to get explant. I went to a really excellent explant surgeon, but it’s just like, “okay, they’re out, you’re on your own”.
Now, what? You know, how, how do I support my body? How do I start to recover? I wasn’t aware of different food sensitivities that maybe I needed to be looking at. I didn’t know exactly how to support my gut microbiome. And so one, one issue that was difficult for me after explant was because my liver was in such a state of distress. I had a very difficult time recovering from anesthesia. And part of the issue was also being on the pain pills, which created extreme, extreme sadness, depression, uncontrollable crying, which is not like me. I was so happy to have had the surgery. And so I wish I had known that there was other things that I could do to better prepare myself for surgery and post-recovery. I had drains. I ended up getting an infection within 24 hours of getting my drains removed, which again was painful. Then I had to be on narcotics again and more antibiotics and all of that. So I would love to kind of hear your approach to handling that so that you have minimized those issues.
Dr. Whitfield (05:23):
I think all of us who practice surgery are taught a particular way and we have to adapt to what your clients need, like you. So I have a protocol that we follow for medications. It’s outside of our holistic protocol, because there are still things that I need to do from a surgery standpoint to provide you the best peri, or around the time of surgery, care as possible. The way we set up our recovery program with prescription medications is to do multiple things. It’s to reduce what women have a really significant problem with is nausea. So I don’t ever want to hear that my patients are experiencing nausea and vomiting in the recovery room. If I have any way to avoid that, I wanna do that because that causes other things downstream that we don’t wanna have, like bleeding because your blood pressure gets high. It’s a lot of stress too, to, to vomit it’s…
Dr. Whitfield (06:28):
So we wanna avoid that. So the night before surgery, we provide medication so that you take it before surgery. So they start it the night before and they just carry it out after the procedure or the treatment we’re we’re doing for them. So the other way to help with, in general, what’s gonna happen after surgery, which is inflammation. So we’ll use an anti-inflammatory and what we use is a COX-2 inhibitor, and it’s called Celebrex or Celecoxib. So why is that important? It’s meant to really help and combine with the protocol,, work synergistically to reduce your need for narcotic. So what else can we do as practitioners doing the, the surgery? Well, in the case, I use a lot of local before I ever make an incision. So local anesthesia’s provided to diminish the pathway or the pain pathway response that your brain gets, right? You’re under anesthesia, but you still have pain.
Dr. Whitfield (07:28):
And then we’ll go to the next steps in my program, which is to take Exparel, which is a long acting local anesthetic. And now, that’s before you ever wake up. You’ve, you know, had your incision made, you’ve had your surgery done, then your whole entire pocket is cleansed with a, a solution of lower pH so that we take care of any biofilm. And then we block everything. And so we’re not done, but we’re getting close to being done. And so, we’re closing, and the anesthesiologist is, is getting you, you know, ready to emerge from anesthesia. We wrap you with an ace wrap, but what I do in the interim of this ace wrap in the, the layers of it is I just put ice packs over the chest. So ice is still the best anti-inflammatory known to man. All the expensive athletes use it. So you can too.
Dr. Whitfield (08:18):
So it’s pretty rare that my patients ever rate their pain above a two or a three in recovery.
Dr. Whitfield (08:25):
So you don’t really need to slug somebody with medication in order to get their pain under control, because there’s quite a bit done to avoid that in the entire process before you ever got back to recovery. So in a hospital based recovery system, you would’ve gotten narcotic long acting, you would throw up, you would just lay around, you’d be really sleepy, groggy, constipated. So in our environment where we want you to be able to get home or to your hotel, cause I have a lot of people come in from out of state. You have to have a program or a process in place that allows you to have a patient wake up, hopefully experiencing absolutely no nausea, very little in the way of discomfort. And you have this, you know, window of time where all of our local that’s short acting is working, so you can get to your hotel or back to your home and, and you’re comfortable. If you then get there, and you’re having some discomfort, I don’t say take a narcotic. I say, as I did in my pre-op appointment with you, I said, “now have extra ice packs”. Those work wonderfully. So if you’re cold and numb in that area, you’re not gonna experience sharp pain. It also really helps with nerve pain. So those are all strategies and techniques we use. Well, probably a little bit different than you experienced.
Definitely, most definitely.
Dr. Whitfield (09:46):
So for everybody, we’ll go back to 2019 with Candice and she’s decided her implants are the root cause of her problems. And she’s decided to have an explant. And can you elaborate maybe on that, maybe not that sentinel moment, but the time around that decision and, and what you thought about that?
Yeah. When I, when I realized that it was my implants, because I had had every other test done and, and nothing else was adding up, there was a sense of relief to have an answer. I was surprised with myself that I had not ever once considered that it could be my implants. I had frustration towards doctors and surgeons at that point, cuz no one had ever mentioned it to me that it could be a potential. I was only ever told that breast implants are safe unless you have a silicone gel rupture, you won’t have any issues. Which just even implants of any type, it makes sense that in certain bodies and in a, a lot of bodies that you are going to have inflammation and issues from any type of device in your body. So I was, I was pretty surprised at myself that I was like, “how come I never considered that?”
And then fear, I felt a lot of fear. I, I started doing research. I went down the rabbit hole. I joined Facebook groups. And while I did get some good information on that, on those groups, I also began to realize that I had more and more fear growing inside of me. On a lot of those, while they mean well, and I think they’re getting important information out there, at some point, I think it’s important to walk away from that. Because when you are seeing over and over that, you’ve got toxic bags in your body and you see the chemical soup of implants and you see skull and crossbones on all of the memes, that is not a good place for you to be in your healing journey. So it was important for me to realize I was healing from that moment that I became aware that it was in my, my implants and to stop researching.
I tell women now, it’s important data for you to have. Once you have that data, you need to move on with what you can do from there to support your body. Don’t just keep going over and over. So it’s very important to give yourself grace and take a deep breath and find someone that can help support you during that process of preparing for explant. So as far as regrets, I don’t really believe in regrets. I used to, but as I’ve gotten older, I realize that every single thing that I’ve done, I’ve learned something so profound about myself and about life and about healing. And had I not been through this whole process… And something I haven’t even touched on is what I looked like after explant and having to go through that journey of <laugh> of living with my body for a couple years and another state of distress, but I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown a lot as a person.
And I don’t think I would’ve been able to evolve like that had I not been through this situation. So I try to tell women to, to find the goodness, even in the hard and scary times that they’re going through maybe with, with their implants and to know that it will be okay and it gets better for sure. And now that there’s so many resources and, and doctors that believe women. That was the other thing. It was very hard to find a doctor that would listen to my symptoms as an explant doctor, that there’s doctors that’ll take out your implants. And, um, but they say, “you know, you’re gonna look terrible and you’re probably not gonna feel any better cuz it’s not this.” And that was very hard for me. So it took me a while to find a, a surgeon that just performed explants and saw that his patients were getting better and understood the importance of removing the capsule and all of those things. So I’m just really relieved and happy at the opportunity to be able to share that there are doctors like you out there that will listen to them and do understand.
Dr. Whitfield (14:14):
Well, I think, you know, you highlighted a couple points and thank you for, for saying that. It has, um, the measure of admonishment I may have gotten from my professional colleagues is nothing in comparison to having to ponder doing what you had to do. And I find it difficult for women to find support whether it’s from their friends, or their family, or their significant others, or spouses. I feel like that is a, it’s pretty precarious for some of my patients and that leads to even more anxiety or the concern or being ashamed of what’s about to happen or the appearance change. And so I think it takes a great amount of courage to do that. You have to have support in order to get through that process. We can support you and we try to help, but it’s a long, long process as I’m sure you can highlight in detail. But who supported you through that, if you want to share that?
Well, I was single. I am single <laugh> like it was, I had been married for 21 years and I have three sons, one that’s still young. He was 12 at the time that I had explant. And it was mostly my mom that was able to support me and my best friend. My best friend actually <laugh> she had breast implants. She was having treatment resistant depression, nothing worked and was having migraines to the point that she was being hospitalized. And when I discovered breast implant illness, I said, “I think maybe it’s your breast implants”. And she was able to get in two weeks before I was for explant. And so she actually took care of me in my hotel room, and, uh, while she was recovering
Dr. Whitfield (16:10):
as well, but we were both two weeks apart. So it was, it was really friends. But as far as like, you know, having to see yourself after and go through all of that, it was all on my own.
I think it was important for me and my development as a human being <laugh> to go through. But it is wonderful if, if people have a significant other or someone that can support them through those, those moments. But ultimately it’s your body and you have to live in it and go through that. But I, I don’t want women to feel fear for that. I was so grateful to be able to get my health back. And so I knew I could figure out all the other parts of it as time went on. But your health is most important.
Dr. Whitfield (16:53):
So that’s a very important point that, you know, I try to drive home with clients and loved ones if they’re with them at that time. Like if somebody’s really suffering and you are definitely one of the sicker patients I would’ve ever had come across, I would’ve not offered you anything, you know, but an explant, because I would’ve thought everything else would’ve been not in your best interest at that time. And I would’ve had that discussion with you as I have had with many clients. Like if you had came in with the “Hey Dr. Rob, I know you do fat transfers at the same time”, I would’ve had that chat with you and said, “no, Candice, we will not be doing that for you at this time. You need to get quite a bit better. And then yes, I’m happy to do that for you and take care of that”. So thank you for sharing that. I know that’s a super difficult thing to talk about.
Well, I feel very fortunate. I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful to just feel good again. So I definitely am open and like to share, because I want other women to know that, that healing is possible, that getting your life back is possible, because it does feel like your life’s taken away when you get to that point. But also that you don’t have to get to that point. If you know that that’s potentially what’s going on, that there are ways to, to treat that before you get to that point,
Dr. Whitfield (18:23):
If there’s anything that we didn’t answer today for you, please DM us at drrobertwhitfield.com. Obviously Candice will answer questions as well. We look forward to seeing you on our next podcast.
Speaker 1 (18:38):
Dr. Robert Whitfield is a board certified plastic surgeon located in Austin, Texas near 360 and Walsh Tarlton in West Lake 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.