"My doctor told me this new product was a combination of saline and silicone and I was excited about the prospect of having a renewed sense of self-esteem," Paula said.
"In January 1989, I saw Doctor Moore, head of the plastic surgery center in Indiana. I was referred to him by my OB/GYN because I had very small breasts and he thought I would be a good candidate for this new product that had just become available. Dr. Moore told me that there was much less risk involved with this combination than straight silicone and set me up for surgery as an outpatient.
Everything was great until 1998. I started getting really bad headaches that progressed into migraine. By 2000 I was getting TIAs - mini strokes. Then in July 2000, I had a stroke and I was only 38. By now the headaches were daily, 4-5 migraines a week and about 6-8 seizures a month. I was debilitated. So far I have seen eight neurologists and none can figure out why I am constantly having these symptoms; they can't explain why my MRIs show brain damage. I have been tested for everything, from rare blood diseases to arthritis; I've had multiple CAT Scans and MRIs.
In 2004 my breasts started hurting and I had a burning sensation in my left breast; it got to the point where I couldn't sleep on my left side and my breast was getting smaller than the right one. At this same time we moved to San Diego. I had a mammogram and saw another doctor.
He told me that more than likely, these combination silicone saline implants have broken and are slowly leaking silicone into my body. It is not reversible and not curable and not repairable. He explained to me that it causes fibromyalgia, unexplained headaches and migraines, all symptoms which I have, because the body doesn't absorb silicone. And it restricts blood flow which could cause the mini strokes that I am having.
It is really expensive to get them replaced but I need to get them removed, right away. I didn't expect to be disfigured because of these new and improved implants. When I contacted the plastic surgery center and requested my records so my insurance company would cover the medical expenses, (they will pay to have them removed if deemed a medical necessity) the administrative assistant told me that Dr. Moore had retired and the medical records regarding my breast implants have been destroyed. I told her that was against the law but she told me to call the manufacturer of the implants, which could be one of three companies.
The only way I can determine the manufacturer is to have them removed and the manufacturer name and serial number will be on them. So I am running up against a brick wall. This is very frustrating. I believe Dr. Moore destroyed my medical records because the implants were defective. He retired around the same time as Dow-Corning's lawsuit began.
I'm scheduled to see another plastic surgeon who has advised that I have them removed. But it will cost up to $5,000 and my insurance company has agreed to cover surgery to have them removed but not to have new ones implanted. The plastic surgery office showed me photos of women who had implants removed and not replaced - young women look like they have 90 year-old breasts. I would never have gone into this had I known. My family physician also believes that, due to so much muscle pain, I have silicone poisoning. I am only 46 years old and my body feels like I am 70. I am on anti-anxiety medication and 7.5 mg of codeine, four times a day.
I've learned throughout the last six years of daily pain to make the most of each day - I don't have time for low self-esteem anymore!
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I also learned that self-esteem has nothing to do with appearance, but everything to do with inner strength. And when it comes to making a decision about plastic surgery, if you choose to do so, make sure that you think about it for a long time and consider the long term consequences - plastic surgery is not a quick fix and could end up being deadly. The results of a defective implant causes irreversible pain and damage - not just for you but your family. My husband watched me go from a social butterfly to just day-by-day existing. I would never do this over again because some doctors don't tell the truth and I think some of them are in it only for the money."