A mother-of-two has revealed how her breast implants caused symptoms which left her ‘too disabled’ to care for her children.
Amy Drilling, 44, from Chicago, Illinois, decided to have silicone breast implants because she was unhappy with the way her breasts looked after giving birth to her two children, Bri, now 24 and Cory, now 26, when she was in her teens.
In 2000, Amy went under the knife to increase the size of her bust from a 34B to a 34C, but soon began having problems such as painful cysts, blurred vision, joint pain, headaches and loss of memory.
Seven years later, Amy’s symptoms became so bad she could no longer work, and she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones.
In 2011, Amy’s daughter, then 15, was taken to live with her ex-husband because she no longer had the strength to look after her, and Amy was unable to see or talk to her for six years.
Amy Drilling (pictured left, before her implants were taken out, and right, after), 44, from Chicago, Illinois, has revealed how her breast implants caused symptoms which left her ‘too disabled’ to care for her children
Amy captured before having her breast implants removed. Amy decided to have silicone breast implants because she was unhappy with the way her breasts looked after giving birth to her two children, Bri, now 24 and Cory, now 26, when she was in her teens
In 2000, Amy (pictured with her daughter Bri) went under the knife to increase the size of her bust from a 34B to a 34C
Amy was even admitted to a mental hospital, because her family thought she was ‘making herself ill’ after telling them about her suspected breast implant illness.
But after years of suffering, Amy was eventually diagnosed with bilateral capsular contracture, and it was revealed that the cysts she had been experiencing were air pockets of the leaked silicone storing around her implant.
Capsular contracture occurs when the body fails to naturally adapt to an implant; in order to protect itself from potential harm or infection as a result of the implant, the body forms a sac, or periprosthetic capsule, around it.
After having her breast implants removed, along with the cysts and surrounding muscle tissue in a $20,000 surgery, Amy’s other symptoms disappeared.
‘I was a teenager when I had my son in 1994 and my daughter in 1996’, Amy explained, ‘My son was a big baby so after he was born my breasts were huge and I had stretch marks all over them.
But the mother soon began experiencing itching around her breasts (pictured), including sores and swelling all over her body
After years of suffering, Amy was eventually diagnosed with bilateral capsular contracture, and she had her implants removed. Pictured, Amy after the explanting procedure
Seven years later, Amy’s symptoms became so bad she could no longer work, and she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. Pictured, Amy with her children when they were youngsters
‘All my friends were out clubbing and wearing these cute clothes I could never rock after having children. I’m five feet tall, Italian with dark black curly hair and skin as pale as can be.
‘When I went tanning, I had this epiphany thinking, “Why do my boobs always fall into my armpits?” I was so embarrassed.’
Soon after giving birth to her daughter in 1996, Amy underwent a $4000 surgery to increase the size of her breasts from a 34B to 34C.
But a week later, the mother began experiencing itching around her breasts and was prescribed an antihistamine to stop the symptoms, revealing: ‘Everything according to my doctor went fine.
At the age of 26, Amy’s children were taken away from her as she no longer had the strength to look after them. Pictured, Amy while pregnant with Bri
In 2007, the mother became so ill she was sedated in the ICU for weeks before doctors diagnosed her with Addison’s disease. Pictured, Amy and her son Ben on his graduation day in 2013
Amy had sores (pictured) all over her breasts and doctors struggled to figure out the underlying cause of her various symptoms
Amy had sores, swelling and bruising (pictured) all over her body after having her silicone breast implants
‘I looked like Frankenstein because the scarring was horrible. There was this itching so bad on my breasts for weeks I couldn’t stop scratching them.
What is Addison’s disease?
Addison’s disease, also known as primary adrenal insufficiency or hypoadrenalism, is a rare disorder of the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are 2 small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They produce 2 essential hormones: cortisol and aldosterone.
The adrenal gland is damaged in Addison’s disease, so it does not produce enough cortisol or aldosterone.
- lack of energy or motivation (fatigue)
- muscle weakness
- low mood
- loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
- increased thirst
- Over time, these problems may become more severe and you may experience further symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting, cramps and exhaustion.
‘My implants were healed but the skin only around my implants itched so badly so I went back to doctor he told me it was my skin stretching and I was prescribed Benadryl. Alarms should have gone off in my head.’
Over the years, Amy started experiencing a host of symptoms including blurred vision, joint pain, headaches, loss of memory and sores all over her body, and spent days in hospital while doctors struggled to figure out the underlying cause.
She explained: ‘I became so sick and couldn’t work at all. I was in the hospital all the time and the doctors were confused but then those symptoms just went away and other symptoms started showing up.’
In 2007, at the age of 26, the mother had a hysterectomy.
She became so ill she was sedated in the ICU for weeks, and doctors diagnosed her with Addison’s disease.
She said; ‘I had a hysterectomy at the age of 26. Then my body stopped producing cortisol and my blood sugars would be so low I had to be sedated in the ICU for weeks where doctors told me then I had Addison’s disease.’
Amy was so ill she couldn’t work and relied on social security benefits to get by.
Her daughter went to live with her ex husband, because she was no longer well enough to care for her.
She said: ‘I became disabled at 26 on social security benefits because I couldn’t leave my house.’
The mother went on: ‘Then the anxiety, depression, mood swings came along and I was just not the same Amy, was gone. They tried many drugs to help – nothing worked so I just kept getting sicker. ‘
She believed she had breast implant illness, but doctors thought she was looking for ‘attention’ and she was even admitted to a mental hospital by her parents, because they thought the sickness was ‘in her mind’.
She explained: ‘I went over with my primary doctor because I believed I had breast implant illness. They didn’t believe me and said I wanted attention and told me to stop the madness with my boobs, and that if I continued with the implants, I should find a different doctor.
Amy told how she had to stop drawing and cooking because she was growing seroma cysts. Pictured, Amy’s seroma cyst under her armpit before and after explanting
By January 2020, Amy’s hair was falling out in such large clumps that she became afraid to wash her hair
She had developed painful cysts in her left armpits that made her immobilised with pain, preventing her from completing daily tasks such as cooking.
‘I started growing round balls in my left armpit that made my arm numb with pain’, explained Amy, ‘I had to stop drawing and cooking and everything because I was growing seroma cysts.
‘I had three different types in my left armpit which grew through my ulnar nerve and bicep. So, my parents had me committed to a mental hospital because they thought I was making myself sick.’
By January 2020, Amy’s symptoms had continued for nearly 20-years – but now her hair was falling out in such large clumps that she became afraid to wash her it in the shower.
She had sores on her scalp and all over her body and began having Urinary tract infections (UTIs) so regularly that she needed to use a catheter.
WHAT IS BREAST PLANT ILLNESS?
Breast implant illness (BII) is a term that some women and doctors use to refer to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after undergoing reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation with breast implants.
Neither the NHS or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledge a single condition called breast implant illness.
They do, however, provide long lists of potential – and publicly known – side effects of having breast implants.
Implants are not designed to last a lifetime, the FDA says, and the longer a woman has the implants in her body the higher the risk of complications occurring.
Complications occur in around one per cent of all patients and can happen at any time after the surgery.
As well as changes to the appearance and feel of the breast some potential side effects include pain, infection, swelling or irritation, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes or bruising.
Reported symptoms of BII include fatigue, chest pain, hair loss and headaches chills, light sensitivity, chronic pain, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.
The NHS urges any women suffering side effects to contact the clinic where they had the implants put in, and to report it through an official Yellow Card Scheme, to add to information on the safety of implants.
Source: FDA and NHS
Amy said: ‘I knew my body changed and whatever the change was it was fast. My hair was falling out in huge clumps so fast I began being scared to wash my hair.
‘I had sores on my scalp, my body was covered they burned like your worst sunburn you can imagine. They said it was due to the high amounts of yeast in my blood. I then had UTIs all the time so I needed to use a catheter from now on. ‘
She continued: ‘All these doctors scared me and no one wanted to help. I could feel my body being drained. My skin turned grey and my eyes were bad.
‘I was prepared to die. My kid was taken away from me also because I was too sick to keep up.’
Amy’s face was pale and her skin was dull and she lost the colour in her eyes due to the unexplained illness
Desperate to know what was wrong with her, Amy wrote an Instagram post about her health condition and was later approached by two women who wanted to help her.
They set up an appointment for her to see a plastic surgeon who scheduled an urgent meeting to remove her implants, discovering that her right one was attached to her ribcage and had started to leak.
The cysts were air pockets of the leaked silicone storing around her implant, and Amy was diagnosed with bilateral capsular contracture.
Doctors removed the implants, cysts and surrounding muscle tissue, costing $100,000.
Since removing her implants, Amy’s life has improved drastically and she now no longer suffers from pain in her arm and most of her symptoms have now miraculously disappeared
Since removing her implants, Amy’s life has improved drastically and she now no longer suffers from pain in her arm and most of her symptoms have now miraculously disappeared.
She said: ‘My headaches are now gone but I still have some sores – not like before. I’m no longer out of breath, I don’t experience sweating, my back and shoulders don’t hurt anymore and I don’t feel the cysts on my armpit anymore.
‘I can use my left hand again and close my arm. I feel like I have a chance now to make something of my life even at 44 years old.
‘I’m not sure how to work yet but I’m learning to drive, small steps you will get there you need to believe in yourself and have the strength to do so. Nothing is ever impossible you just have to try.’
Amy now feels happy and healthy, but laments the ’20-years of her life she’s lost’ due to her surgery, insisting these operations have ‘destroyed millions of lives’
Amy was so ill she couldn’t work and relied on social security benefits. Pictured, Amy and her daughter Bri recently
Amy went on to lament the ’20-years of her life she’s lost’ due to her surgery, insisting these operations have ‘destroyed millions of lives’.
‘I’ve lost over 20 years of my life including vacations’, said Amy, ‘Romantic dinners, wedding, job, a choice and not relying on others just because I wanted pretty boobs.
‘These boobs have destroyed billions of people’s lives and to remove or fix this issue will cause you to spend about $20,000 to remove but only $5,000 to put them in?
‘Plastic surgeons are monopolising off the money it cost to not remove the implants from women because we have no other opportunity or choice because we elected to have the surgery done.’