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      Getting a Boob Job Was Great Until It Destroyed My Health

      By Katarina Van Derham·· 10 min read
      Boob-jobs-breast-implant-illness-risks-should-i-get-a-boob-job

      I wanted perfect breasts, so I got them. But if I could do it all over again, I would choose differently.

      My story begins like the typical story of many young women in Hollywood. I joined the entertainment industry, and I was politely told I wasn’t good enough. At that time, I was in my 20s, and I was expected to look sexy to fit the California look. I was told by a few modeling clients that I was almost perfect...if only I had larger breasts. Please keep in mind, my breasts were a small size C.

      While I loved the idea of having larger breasts, I couldn’t imagine going through the surgery process to get them.

      I knew that I would either have to have my nipples cut out, removed and put back on, or I would have to be cut at my armpits or under my breasts. All of these methods were terrifying to me because I’m a very visual person, and I’d also heard many scary stories from other models. I also wasn’t making enough money to be able to afford the procedure, which would cost a few thousand dollars.

      Breast augmentation

      However, one day a dear friend of mine told me that there was a new surgeon in town, and he was using a new technique (TUBA) which required only a tiny cut inside the belly button. He also said that this surgeon was trying to build his portfolio and that he could perhaps do it for very cheap. So, I grabbed a photo of Carmen Electra and went for a consultation. The surgeon explained to me that the procedure would only take about 45 minutes and that I was a perfect candidate for the natural look I wanted to achieve because I had a lot of breast tissue.

      The Surgery

      The TUBA procedure is basically this: Once you’re under the anesthesia, a tiny incision is made inside your belly button. Then, two small tunnels are created from the naval to each breast by separating the skin from the muscle with a stick. After that, rolled up implants are placed in the carefully created pocket under the muscle. The implants get filled with saline (salt water) to the desired size via fill tubes, and voila! You’ve got the perfect breasts without any scars. (I don’t know if this method is still practiced. I don’t hear people talking about it. Perhaps it’s because you can’t use silicone implants with this method since they come pre-filled. And, the industry seems to be pushing the silicone implants onto women since they’re supposed to feel more natural.)

      Surgery

      But anyhow, I got the surgery done and only had to pay $500 for the anesthesia. In return, I let the surgeon use my photos to promote his practice. The surgery went well, and four days later, I was back at work. I enjoyed my new look. I felt empowered, sexy, and better proportioned with my hips. My breasts looked beautiful, and many women envied them. I booked countless modeling jobs and made decent money from print campaigns and national TV commercials. I even made it to the "Top 100 Sexiest Women" on three different continents!

      My breasts looked beautiful, and many women envied them.

      katarina-van-derham

      My body started changing

      But, as I got into my 30s, my body naturally thickened, and so did my breasts. I wasn’t a girl anymore. I was a woman. I went from a size 0/2 to a size 8. My mind also changed. I became more intellectual. I started to explore other career opportunities, such as doing makeup and owning a media business. Suddenly, I felt my breasts didn’t match my personality anymore. They actually got in the way.

      I just wanted to rip the implants out of my chest.

      I remember being in Fiji once, where the air and water are so pure that you feel high just from inhaling the oxygen. I felt like I was in paradise and hated the fact that I couldn’t lay flat on my chest while receiving an amazing massage and being surrounded by lush nature. I started to panic: what if I’ll never get to see myself natural again? Am I going to feel trapped in my own body for the rest of my life? I felt that I just wanted to rip the implants out of my chest. Right then, right there.

      katarina-van-derham-breast-implant-illness

      More years went by, and I started to care more about fashion. I’ve always loved stylish clothes, but they just weren’t affordable for me. However, with the rise of fast fashion, now I could afford to look classy and chic. But I would always have to wear a size up to fit my chest. I became extremely frustrated with this because when the clothes would fit my chest, they would be too loose in my waist. I also felt that at that point the large breasts were making me look older and heavier, especially because I’m not too tall. When an associate at a Victoria’s Secret store measured me and said that I needed to buy their DD-sized bras, I panicked again. I had never intended to become that size. All I had wanted to be was a full C/small D.

      My health collapse

      Meanwhile, I received a Facebook message from a girl named Angela. She suggested that I do a story for my magazine about the negative health effects of breast implants. The conversation had begun. I learned about some of the symptoms from her: fatigue, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, memory loss), muscle aches, joint pain, hair loss, dryness throughout the body, recurring infections, gastrointestinal and digestive issues, rashes, food and chemical sensitivities, anxiety, and problems with thyroid and adrenals.

      I began to think about all the health problems that I had accumulated after I got my breast implants done.

      The worst side effect was my vocal cords. My voice had become very raspy because I’d developed polyps on them. They grew so big (the worst my UCLA doctor had ever seen) that I had to have my vocal cords immediately paralyzed for a full 6 weeks. This was a struggle since I lived alone and couldn’t even whisper. Forget about dialing 911 if something happened or being able to scream for help!

      Another bad health problem was my allergies. I became allergic to cats, dogs, avocados, bananas and of course, pollen. I couldn’t go a day without allergy medication. The other symptoms that really bothered me were my chronic sore throat and the fact that my left arm would often go numb. And I had a few other symptoms…

      What surgeons don't tell you

      I guess what no surgeon tells you during your consultation is that when you insert two heavy bags into your chest, they will cut the blood and oxygen flow in your chest and neck and can even do the same to your head and arms. They don’t tell you that the bags will put too much pressure on all the tiny veins and capillaries in your chest, which are so crucial to supplying your body with nutrients. No wonder my breathing got heavier and I’d developed polyps from over-straining my vocal cords. I was always a healthy person, so I knew all these issues had to be linked to something.

      What no surgeon tells you during your consultation is that when you insert two heavy bags into your chest, they will cut the blood and oxygen flow...

      One day, I was at a store where I saw two beautiful jackets on sale. Again, I got extremely frustrated because I couldn’t close the top button on them due to my large breasts, and at that moment, I JUST HAD IT. I bought both jackets and hung them in my closet for motivation. Six months later, I went in for the breast explant (removal) surgery. At first, the surgeon tried to talk me out of it because she said my breasts would look like two pancakes. I didn’t let any fear of the outcome get to me. All I did was visualize looking like I used to… young, healthy and free, running around, jumping up, and not feeling the weight of the bags in my chest. As I was going under, I had a smile on my face, and I visualized waking up looking beautiful.

      Getting them out

      Getting them Out

      I LOVE remembering the moment when I woke up after the surgery. I could smell again. I felt young again. I felt reborn. My allergies were immediately gone. It was also due to the steroids they put into the anesthesia, but even after they wore off, the allergies never really came back. My clothing size went down to a 4/6, which is the perfect size for me.

      I could smell again. I felt young again. I felt reborn.

      Then my surgeon told me that the surgery wasn’t as easy as she anticipated. According to her, my left implant was stuck to my ribcage, which explained my arm going numb all the time. On the right side, the scar tissue looked like scrambled eggs, and it spanned all the way to my shoulder because apparently, the surgeon who put the implants in 11 years ago accidentally penetrated my arm with that stick. You never know what the inside of your body really looks like unless you open it.

      Dealing with the aftermath

      After a couple of weeks, I noticed my right nipple was a bit inverted. It was due to the scar tissue inside the breast holding it attached to another part of the breast tissue. When I leaned forward, I could see the difference between the shape and size of the two breasts. But I was still happy with the surgery because of the smaller size of my breasts. The thing that bothered me was that I had a bit of pain inside my breasts, especially during my PMS.

      Fortunately, a few weeks later, I got a call from my friend Angelique who told me about this “miracle guy” who just got rid of the scar tissue in her tummy. She wanted me to try him to help me with mine. He was a bit expensive, but when I talked to him, he assured me that I would be 50% better after just one session. That’s all I needed to hear. I was willing to pay his hourly rate because I knew I would see if he was credible or not after one try.

      The "Miracle Guy"

      He worked on my breasts for an hour and a half. He would be pushing really hard to break up the scar tissue. He’d be pinching my nipples and massaging the areas to flush off the build-ups through the lymphatic system. The whole time I was in pain, a lot of pain. I was sweating. This could be dangerous, as he could pinch your nerves, so you must make sure you get the right person to do it.

      I couldn’t believe my eyes. I almost cried

      But for some reason, I trusted him, and what he was doing made sense to me. When I got up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I almost cried. My breasts were filled with fluids again. They perked up and got more even. I almost looked like I never had the breast implants in. I was so happy. He came back for two more sessions, and I was OK to go through all that pain again because I knew it was worth it.

      My life today without implants

      Today, it’s been three and a half years since I had the implants removed. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I get to wear nice clothes, I feel more athletic, and I feel much younger. At 43, I think I look much better than I did at 23 or 33. A part of it is that I like what I see in the mirror and that I feel healthy again. Do I regret having them put in? No, because I don’t believe in regrets. I think many experiences come to us because we ask for them. We need to take a particular path to grow, to become whole. But if someone had educated me about all the health issues that this could lead to, I wouldn’t have done it.

      It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

      So, if you care about my opinion, in case you’re thinking about getting the infamous boob job done, I will tell you, DON’T. Respect your body and don’t put it through unnecessary problems. How you treat your body is how it will treat you back. Love yourself and don’t live up to someone else’s expectations. Don’t worry that you won’t meet the man who will love you just the way you are, because I know you will. You will as long as you love yourself first, then you won’t judge yourself or others.

      Love and Light,

      Katarina

      Breast AugmentationBody Issues

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