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My Health Update After Explant Surgery

Written by Irina Webb
Health-related claims have been reviewed by Myrto Ashe, MD, MPH, IFMCP

Like most of you, I was not born with an awareness of toxins and the necessity of avoiding them.  I used to believe that manufacturers would not use anything harmful in their products – they just wouldn’t.  As I learned more about toxins, I knew that one day I would have to confront my deepest fear.  It was about my breast implants and their potentially detrimental effect on my health.  In early 2017, I had no choice but to undergo explant surgery.  It was a major step toward recovery from two autoimmune conditions I was diagnosed with after getting saline breast implants.  I am excited to tell you that much to the disbelief of conventional doctors I have completely recovered from one of them!  Read on to find out what other steps I have taken to defeat the autoimmune diseases.

My Health Update After Explant. A picture of a running woman free from autoimmune conditions.

Even before my explant surgery, I overcame Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and now I am in the process of healing from Addison’s.

In 2010, I underwent an extensive medical checkup after a hit-and-run accident and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It is an autoimmune condition that conventional medicine considers incurable.  However, with the help of my functional doctor Myrto Ashe, MD, I recovered from it.  Stay with me to find out what steps I took to accomplish that.

In 2015, shortly after the birth of my son, I developed really bad symptoms.  Namely, they were extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, tanned skin, panic attacks, and even inability to retain body heat.  Those turned out to be the symptoms of Addison’s, a rare autoimmune disease characterized by adrenal insufficiency.  It is when adrenals stop producing cortisol, a hormone absolutely crucial for living.  Currently, I am dependent on a synthetic cortisol hormone and must take medication several times a day to stay alive.  But I am determined to recover from it, too.

To clarify, in autoimmune conditions, the immune system mistakenly attacks your body.  Nowadays, there is an emerging consensus among functional medicine practitioners that one of the triggers of autoimmunity may be toxins. 

I started becoming passionate about reducing exposure to toxins in everyday products when I was expecting my baby in 2012.  Thus, I switched to glassware and safe cookware, bought an organic mattress, found non-toxic makeup, and chose the safest shampoo.  Additionally, I took specific steps, including the explant surgery, toward immediate results in my health condition.  Here is what I have done to recover from my autoimmune conditions.

I had worked with a functional medicine practitioner for years before the explant surgery.

I share only my experiences, not medical advice. Consult your doctor for treatments suitable for you.

To begin, functional medicine addresses the underlying root causes of an illness using a multi-faceted approach to healing the body.  Rather than treating the symptoms, functional medicine uses recent scientific advances to tackle the reasons people get sick.  In addition to getting traditional medical training, functional medicine doctors learn about the impact of nutrition, inflammation, oxidative stress, nutrient deficiencies, and toxicity.  They design a plan to optimize the system affected with illness, that resulted in the expression of symptoms.  

For example, the symptoms of depression on which the diagnosis is based may have multiple underlying causes.  Stress may play a role but also, perhaps, nutrient deficiencies, unsuitable foods, and other factors.  Two people with similar symptoms can have entirely different underlying causes.  Conversely, two people with the same underlying causes can have different symptoms.  For instance, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause depression, or it can cause neurological symptoms.   

I realize that functional medicine is not for everyone.  Specifically, it is costly and not always covered by insurance.  Also, some doctor recommendations can be hard to follow.  Besides, it is a long-term treatment.  So, when we are looking for immediate help, conventional medicine is often more appropriate. 

During my first visit to Myrto Ashe, MD, she asked me to tell her my life story.  Then, to see how well my body functioned as a whole, she recommended that I take the NutrEval test.  

I took NutrEval and GI Effects tests to begin my journey to recovery from my autoimmune conditions. 

Four years before my explant surgery, I took the NutrEval test by Genova Diagnostics which provided an insight into my overall biological profile.  It addressed mineral and vitamin deficiencies, gut health, digestion, ongoing exposure to heavy metals, and my ability to convert food into energy.  Additionally, it included a marker for oxidative DNA damage that can indicate a predisposition to cancer.  It was high for me then, but I am happy to report it is back to normal after the treatment!  I was very worried about it because my father died of metastatic cancer at 57.

NutrEval discovered my limited ability to detoxify; hence, I must be super careful around toxins.  Also, it revealed exposure to an elevated level of mercury and inability to digest chicken and fish well.  Above all, NutrEval showed that I was deficient in vitamins B and magnesium.  Plus, unable to convert food fat into energy, my body relied on carbs for energy.  No wonder I experienced fatigue when I tried a low-carb diet.  

Furthermore, I took the GI Effects™ Comprehensive Profile by Genova Diagnostics that tested for beneficial gut flora, parasites, and harmful bacteria.  It showed I had a good diversity of beneficial bacteria and had no parasites.  At the same time, it discovered two strains of harmful bacteria associated with autoimmune conditions.  Even after an extensive course of herbal supplements, the re-test showed I still had the harmful bacteria.  In other words, the herbal supplements did not make an impression on them.

I realize that one step – be it an explant or supplements – is not a comprehensive approach to curing autoimmunity.

True, chronic deficiency in vitamins or minerals may prevent the body from healing.  It may cause such bad symptoms as depression, hair loss, fatigue, and even promote the development of autoimmune conditions.  Nevertheless, supplements are not the ultimate solution to vitamin and mineral deficiency or health improvement in general. 

If you are considering supplements, consult with your doctor, and you might find it a good idea to take the NutrEval test first.  I am told it shows what vitamins and minerals you are missing and how much you need to take.  

Also, poor-quality supplements may be contaminated with heavy metals and may even harm you if you take them carelessly.  You can read more about that in my Clean Protein Powder Guide.  (By the way, to avoid heavy metals in makeup, consider Crunchi non-toxic makeup or – my second choice – Beautycounter).

Most importantly, health is not about taking supplements.  My doctor and I had to look into the things to avoid and remove from my body and my environment.  And you will read about that next.  Especially when the illness is still in the process of leaving my body, it is crucial that I stay away from potentially toxic products.  Indeed, while allergies may be the short-term effects of chemicals, long-term effects are hard to measure.  Bottom line, my doctor and I did not focus on just one step, like taking supplements or having explant surgery.  We agreed on the need to incorporate multiple steps to achieve optimal health.  

I also took tests for hidden allergies, heavy metals, and mold sensitivity on the way to recovery from my autoimmune conditions. 

First, functional medicine considers it important to diagnose food intolerances (some of them could be allergies) because they cause inflammation that can lead to numerous diseases.  So, I took Cyrex Laboratories tests to determine whether I had intolerances to gluten, grains, yeast, seeds, potatoes, and dairy.  As a result, I avoid gluten now and try to avoid tapioca when possible.  I sure miss eating bread, but I have found a delicious substitute that is also healthy – Simple Kneads Bread.

Second, there is evidence linking toxic heavy metals to autoimmune diseases (source and source).  I had some work done on testing for and reduction of heavy metals.  We achieved good results with reducing lead levels in my body and worked on reduction of current exposure to mercury.

Third, we looked for evidence that my body might be impacted by mycotoxins (toxins made by molds).  Since some of my blood tests were concerning, we hired mold inspectors.  Using ERMI testing, they determined that our house had a moderately high presence of harmful mold.  In addition to installing a whole-house air filtration system, we took steps to prevent air from the crawlspace from coming into the house.  Plus, I took supplements to reduce the mycotoxins in my body.

I decided to explant my breast implants to enhance my odds of recovering from Addison’s.

By 2017, instead of two autoimmune conditions, I had just one, because I had already recovered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  Shortly after I started working with Dr. Myrto Ashe, MD, my thyroid antibodies, a sign of the thyroid gland being attacked, went down from 457 to 110.   What did we do?  We addressed my body’s vitamin and mineral deficiencies, inability to digest chicken and fish, toxic chemicals, and stress.  I want to emphasize the importance of avoiding stress: the body cannot heal effectively in a state of chronic stress.  

But there was still a significant part of my body to deal with – my saline breast implants.  When I got them in 2006, I was so happy to wear a size B bra that nothing else mattered.  Eventually, after being diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases in a row, I had to face my fear.  Indeed, the research I did showed that implants could leak little by little and cause contamination, inflammation, and sickness.  Thus, I was not going to let vanity take away my chance to cure from Addison’s. 

Two months after the breast implant removal, I re-tested markers for mold illness, inflammation, and autoimmunity.  The great news was that some of them went down, such as TGF b1 (Human Trans. Growth Factor) and MMP-9 (Matrix Metaloprot-9).  However, my breasts were not as they used to be before the saline implants.  Read more about that and my research on silicone implants in my post Can Breast Implants Cause Autoimmune Diseases?

A modified fast inspired by Dr. Valter Longo’s “fast mimicking diet” was another step towards complete recovery from my autoimmune conditions.

After the explant surgery, I kept working with my functional medicine practitioner Dr. Myrto Ashe, MD.  As the next step toward recovery from Addison’s disease, she encouraged me to get on a modified fast inspired by “fast mimicking diet.”  It is designed to improve overall health, prevent cancer, slow down aging, and even reverse autoimmunity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The theory behind a fast mimicking diet is as follows.  For 5 days each month for 3 months, you eat a limited diet of a calculated amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  During these 5 days, the body begins to clear some damaged and unnecessary cells.  Apparently, cancer cells weaken because they cannot adapt to the stress.  When you return to your normal diet, your body makes new cells, and your organs regenerate in this manner.  Then you are supposed to repeat the diet in six months.

At first, I experienced fatigue, grumpiness, and lightheadedness.  However, they resulted not from hunger per se but from low blood sugar.  Actually, in a healthy person, glucose should not be jumping high and low and should be fairly stable.  After going on this diet several times, I observed some exciting results.  Though the first days were hard, by the end of the diet I definitely felt more vibrant and energized.  After 3 rounds of the diet, my blood glucose went down from 99 to 68, which was a remarkable achievement.  

Finding a good drinking water filter was as important for me as having the explant surgery. 

In my opinion, drinking filtered water is an absolute must for all people, especially for those with autoimmune conditions.  Therefore, I devoted several years to studying water filtration technologies.  For instance, after testing my tap water with a Tap Score home water testing kit, I discovered uranium in it.  You can read more about it in my post What You Can Do about Uranium in Water.   

Additionally, I have tried some water filters and tested my water before and after filtration to see the difference.  Thus, I describe my experience with Aquasana Reverse Osmosis water filter in my post Best Water Filter System for You.  In the same post, you can find out about Berkey, too.

As for me, after extensive research and testing, I settled on a Pure Effect water filtration system.  I began feeling better both emotionally and physically after I started drinking water with calcium and magnesium, both beneficial minerals.  The latter is especially important to me because I have had low magnesium in the past.  (For instance, Aquasana adds potassium, but it is not a mineral I need to supplement with.)  All in all, Pure Effect works well and keeps water pH under 8, which is what my doctor recommends. 

Treating my teeth was another step in the process of curing from my autoimmune conditions. 

As I mentioned, one of the steps I took before the explant surgery was a challenge test for heavy metals.  Besides lead, I had high levels of mercury.  I was surprised to see that because if I ate fish, it was salmon and herring – low mercury fish.  My research for other ways of exposure to mercury led me to my teeth, namely, to my amalgam fillings.  Thus, an amalgam composite is 50% mercury, and I had had 8 amalgam fillings over a 15-year period.  So, out they went.

And then in 2021, my dentist removed a tooth that had undergone a root canal.  To clarify, in 1998 I had a root canal done.  Then in 2013, my dentist discovered an infection and re-treated the canal.  In 2021, it snapped and got infected again.  So, this time, I was glad to get rid of it. 

Allegedly, low-grade inflammation coming from the oral cavity is one of the factors that can trigger autoimmune diseases.   In other words, the conditions created by harmful bacteria in root canals can be a trigger for autoimmune reactions.

Therefore, I am happy I have had my root canal removed because it brings me closer to full recovery.  

Summary of the steps I took to recovery before and after the explant surgery

The steps I took are my experience, not medical advice.  Consult your doctor regarding your health condition and treatment.

In sum, my journey toward recovery from Hashimoto’s and Addison’s autoimmune conditions started with turning to a functional medicine practitioner.  As of today, I have recovered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and am on my way to recovery from Addison’s. 

I took multiple tests to determine the root causes of my ailments and underwent detox and chelation therapies.  Based on the test results, my doctor prescribed me supplements to strategically provide my body with minerals and vitamins. 

I have also had explant surgery, have been doing a diet, and learning how to manage stress.  (If switching to a healthier lifestyle causes you stress, it is counterproductive.  Contact me if you need help with managing your stress.) 

Additionally, I had my amalgam fillings and an infected tooth removed.  Plus, I installed a Pure Effect water filtration system to have access to clean and healthy drinking water at home.  Also, I continue minimizing my exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in products I use on my body and at home.

Bottom line, I believe it is crucial to avoid toxic chemicals and heavy metals.  But it is important to do it in a balanced, non-stressful, and, therefore, non-counterproductive way.  

Check out my e-books and my shop for products that I consider safe, including Crunchi non-toxic makeupBook a consultation with me, join the Savvy Consumer Circle, and my Facebook group Healthy Simple Beauty.  Let’s have fun!       

37 thoughts on “My Health Update After Explant Surgery”

  1. Thanks for sharing. Your post was very interesting to read for me, I have had implants for 20 years. I had them replaced at year 14. The surgeon (who was not the same as the one that put them in) assured me that they looked good as new and were intact when they were replaced. I have had no health problems related to them or otherwise (that I am aware of) so I have elected to keep them in for now. I really do wish I had never gotten them in the first place though. They are completely unnecessary. If only I knew then what I know now about health.

    1. I’m right there with you…wish I never had them done as well. Purely a mid-life emotional reaction. The explanation of Irina’s surgery scared me. I have saline, probably for about 12 years now…no health issues. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Irina, so sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. Hugs, hope the time will help to cope with losing your parent. Happy to hear you are feeling better after the surgery, you are a beautiful girl inside and out, don’t let anybody make you doubt yourself or any of the decisions you’ve made.

    1. Thank you, Elena. When my son was a baby, my mom was already sick but helped with him so I can work on this blog. She did everything she could help me create our wonderful community. 🙂 ~Irina

  3. Sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. May you find comfort with family and friends. I am sure she is very proud of the compassionate daughter, wife, mother and friend that you are!

  4. Bless your heart, Irina, you have been through the wringer. I am so happy for you that your health has shown so much improvement in really what has been a short time since explanting. The results have to be incredibly uplifting and encouraging. Thanks for sharing your journey. You have a lot of courage and persistence. And thank goodness you have such a supportive partner!

  5. Thank you for your story. My daughter has been contemplating prophylactic double mastectomies with implant reconstruction due to strong cancer history. But I am concerned about the implants after reading your story along with others that show auto immune problems. She already has rheumatoid arthritis and is sickly. What functional medicine doctor do you go to? Also so sorry for the loss of your mom. 🙁

    1. Dear Lori:

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. This is a very difficult situation. Do you want to look into fat transfer instead? ~Irina

    1. So sorry to hear. This is probably not my place to ask and I am sure you have considered all your options. But is there a way to wait for her to heal and gain weight before doing breast reconstruction? ~Irina

  6. You have another angel in heaven taking care of you…The most important is be beautiful in your heart Irina, always remember that you can do all with God. 🙂

    1. I’m getting my 23 year old saline implants taken out soon. One is deflated as of a couple weeks ago! I am diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroidits 4 years ago. I have gained a ton of weight, and my knees and hips hurt constantly. i also have dry hair, and skin. The brain fog and memory issues are horrifying. I am 55 years old. Your story has helped me feel positive about the explant! Will i feel better right after this surgery, and maybe my Hashi’s will get better? It’s been about 6 years of hell……i think its from the implants.

      1. Hi, Bridget: Congratulations! I am glad you are doing it. You will feel better soon. It will also depend on other healthy changes you have been implementing. The Hashimoto’s had is healed. And the other autoimmune conditioner is almost gone as well. Every minute I am so grateful for my health. ~Irina

  7. I’m so happy you are getting back to good health! Do you by chance have a list or a link to all the tests you took for your detox? I’m having my explant surgery in June and I want to make sure to be properly cleared of everything! Also, did you experience hair loss while you had implants? If so, did your hair grow back? I’m asking because that is one of my main issues right now and I’m scared to death it won’t grow back. Thank you for sharing your story. It has been most helpful!

    1. Hi, Melanie: I am so sorry to hear about your hair loss. I know how scary it is. I had some hair loss episode after the surgery and was able to fix – so happy about that. Please read my article here: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/overlooked-hair-loss-causes/
      Let me know if you’d like to talk the phone about all this: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/services/consultations/ I can tell you about something very important to do right after the surgery. ~Irina

  8. Hi Irina
    I know time has passed since your explant, however I may have similar results after my explant 3 months ago, to what you describe with the indentations. My left breast complete lower portion is flat and dimpled and my breast is filling up in the upper portion, making my nipple point downward, it would be a B size now. My right breast has not filled in yet but looks normal in lower fullness except for some flat dimpled area like the other on the outer third, nipple straight, it would be an A. I don’t want any more surgery and would like to know if your indentations filled out over time? I am embarrassed because of how they look now. My PS said the way the breasts look on the lower pole is because I have no fat there (even though I am overweight), and that I had a large implant in there for 35 years and it is heavier at the bottom of the breast. I have been wearing compression bras and now a vest as a bra rides up, I have to wear it 24 hrs until the 6 months consult. I have had small seroma fluids removed a few weeks ago, tested for ALCL but all clear. PS suggests implants/lift/fat transfer only to smooth out. After 4 operations I don’t want more surgery, and costs.
    I was flat 35 years ago (like a boy) after breast feeding. I had silicone implants with contraction. I then had saline implants, one implant slowly leaked over a few years. I had saline implants replaced and the same happened. I had increasing fluid around my implants and was tested for ALCL twice, negative thank goodness. My PS said he found silicone in there during the explant through under breast incision. 27 years ago he told me that he had to cut the silicone implants to squeeze some out to remove them through the incision under my nipple, I was horrified, some silicone must have gone inside there at that time. I used saline implants to prevent that from happening, as it turns out silicone was in there the whole time! I have had health issues and have not had any relief since the explant, actually my digestive issues are worse since my saline implant leaked faster prior to removal. I had most of the capsules removed. I am hoping the massages I have been asked to do (starting in the last week) may stimulate breast growth? I can only hope. My question is did your indents fill out?

    1. Hi, Melissa: 3 months is not enough to see improvement in shape and your health. You need to give it at least a year to make sure conclusions. In my case, it took me two years for the indentations to get smaller. The right breast is still smaller on the bottom than the left. Massage and cupping should help. Even though my breasts are very small, I feel very happy that I got rid of the ticking bombs inside my body. My health has improved, too. Do you see a functional medicine doctor? Have you had a chance to look around my website? Please let me know if you have any further questions? ~Irina

      1. Williams Kelley

        Please have a call with me . I’m a nurse – undiagnosed health inflammatory issues- I’m not sure who to seek for advice . Other than these implants I should have never have done .

        1. Hi, Williams, sorry to hear that. You might want to look for a doctor who practices functional medicine. ~Irina

      2. Thank you Irina for your reply, it has helped me to feel more at ease with my situation, and to be patient as the passing of time is what I need to heal, my body has been exposed to toxins for 35 years of silicone and saline and it will take some time for my body to heal. I realise the stress of how unusually damaged my breasts look now after the multiple surgeries and explant has had an impact on my health, so I really need to accept what has happened, along with the other challenges in my life, to move forward. I am so glad I had my implants removed for my health, which is exceedingly more important than how I look, regret has not been an issue, but disappointment has. I have been taking time to go walking, getting a little sun every day and trying to feel healthier and happier, and distracting myself with being busy. I haven’t seen a functional medical doctor. I see online there are a few in my area and will get a consultation and tests if I don’t see improvement.
        I have looked at your site, you have vast insight into health and healing. It is hard to be natural in the world we live in, it all comes back to awareness, and trying to get as close as we can by eating and living clean. Our bodies have the amazing ability to heal if we don’t impede it with toxins.
        Irina, you have such resilience with your health issues, your mental determination is amazing. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, and I wish you continued success in your life.

        1. Thank you so much for your kind attitude, Melissa! Pamper and celebrate yourself. You just went through a lot. ~Irina

  9. Hi Irina,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had my implants for 13 years. I also didn’t know they came with all these illnesses. Mine are 250cc from an A cup. I was wondering if you got your nipples sensations back after explant. I lost my nipples sensations after getting implants and how I used to enjoyed being touched.

  10. Hi,

    I am having my 525cc textured silicone sub muscular implants removed on Nov 25 2019 and am curious about what testing (specific tests) you did post-op explant for your health? What type of doctor did you go to? I am interested in testing heavy metal mold etc as well as my immune function as I feel it has severely decreased in the past year. I live in Dallas Texas, just as additional info. Any suggestions are appreciated!! I really want to get healthy and get my body back on track after the explant. Thank you!

    C

    1. Hi, C: I’ve been working with a functional medicine doctor. As for the tests, it is individual. I would highly recommend finding an experienced functional medicine with MD credentials. Congratulations on taking them out and good luck with the surgery. Let me know if you want to talk on the phone. ~Irina

  11. Hi, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you are feeling better. I recently went through an explant surgery and also have a good sized dent in my right breast near the incision. I’ve tried cupping, but it’s still there. Did your indention ever go away or become less noticeable?

  12. Great story from the great person, thank you. Wishing you best of luck with your recovery and I really admire your willpower, you are an amazing, determined person. I lost my mom this January + other everyday routine stress… Just wondering how you manage to avoid stress. And the most importantly that you’ve got an accurate diagnosis to begin with. I am not that fortune.

    1. Hi, Alla: thank you so much for your kind words. I know it is very painful to lose a mom. I don’t think stress is avoidable. However, you can certainly figure out and use techniques to reduce it. Strengthening my faith made a huge difference as well as a close friendship with my long-term friend who helps me in my business too. You can learn about her here: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/about-us/. Would you like to talk on the phone? If yes, please reply to the emails you get from me. I would love to chat. ~Irina

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