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Bec Donlan loved her implants. A year later, she started getting sick.

With 55,000 followers on Instagram, fitness influencer Bec Donlan knew that people were going to notice when she had her breast implants removed. So she’s telling the whole story.

Donlan, the New York-based Aussie founder of Sweat With Bec, got the implants 11 years ago. She was born with pectus excavatum, which is a concave chest.

“I didn’t like wearing a bikini,” she tells Mamamia. “Everyone was like, ‘Oh, what’s wrong with your chest?’”

While we’re talking about boobs, Rachelle and Corinne inherited a gene mutation from their father. Their risk of developing breast cancer increases to over 70%. Here’s what they want you to know. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Her brother, who was born with the same condition, had an iron rod put into his chest to correct it. At the age of 22, Donlan went to the doctors to discuss other options.

“They were like, ‘Well, why don’t you get some breast implants? It would cover it up.’ I’m like, ‘Great! I was born with size 10A boobs – this is a win-win for me. Let’s do it!’”

When Donlan had to decide on the type of implant, she went for “the most expensive and the best”.

“These were sold to me as ‘the Rolls Royce of boobs’. They were the latest technology.”

She loved her new look.

“I had the best relationship with my implants. It was great. I went from an A to a C. Instantly I had this confidence. It was like, ‘Now I’m balanced out, because I’ve always had no boobs, tiny waist and this giant booty. Now I look better, my clothes look better, I can wear a bikini and no one will say anything. This is the best decision I’ve ever made.’”

About a year after the implants, Donlan started having “really bad stomach issues”. She assumed she was developing food intolerances.

“I thought, ‘That’s all it is, I’m intolerant to literally everything,’” she remembers. “I’m not eating gluten, I’m not eating sugar, I’m not eating dairy… and my stomach’s still upset all the time.”

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Two years down the track, she woke up to find that one of her implants was “twice the size of the other one”.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I went to the ER. No one could tell me anything. They put me on antibiotics and said, ‘We’ll see what happens.’”

Donlan had the same “crazy inflammation/infection” three more times over the years, but no one could ever explain what it was.

Then, about two years ago, she started getting what she calls “mysterious illness stuff”. She was experiencing a range of symptoms, which she tried to explain away, including brain fog, numbness on the left side of her body, weight gain and exhaustion.

“It was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got brain fog today, can’t think straight, maybe I’ve just got ADHD. Oh, I’m really tired, I can’t lift my limbs, maybe I just slept badly.’”

She tried everything, from cryotherapy to vitamin injections, but didn’t feel any better. Eventually, she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s disease.


Donlan gained 13kg within the space of a year, despite regularly working out. It started to have an impact on her career.

“As a fitness person, where you’re paid for what you look like and you book jobs on what you look like, that’s a lot.”

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Around the middle of last year, Donlan found out there had been a recall on her breast implants, due to the risk of a cancer of the immune system known as BIA-ALCL. The risk was described as “rare but acknowledged”. People who had the textured implants were advised that removal was not recommended if there were no symptoms.

Donlan was still loving her implants, but in October, she once again woke up to find out that one was twice the size of the other.

“So I ended up in the ER. They were like, ‘There’s nothing wrong.’ I was like, ‘Why do I feel like I’m going crazy?’ Then the surgeon pulled me aside and said, ‘Legally we can’t say anything because it’s not a recognised illness, but if you were my daughter I would tell you to get them out tomorrow.’”

In the end, what finally made Donlan decide to have her implants removed was watching a video where a woman compared her eyes before and after the removal surgery.

“When I saw the ‘before’ and ‘after’ I broke down in tears. Before surgery, her eyes were exactly like mine, dead inside. And then after surgery, three hours after surgery, they’re clear white.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

THE EYES DON’T LIE???? Sharing this bc it still has me ???? The top pic was taken 15 mins BEFORE my #explant , the bottom pic only 3 HOURS POST OP. When I saw the comparison of the two I was shook that the difference would be that instant. You can tell a lot about what’s going on, on the inside through your eyes- things like toxic load, liver issues, fatigue, stress etc. For the last two years I haven’t been able to leave the house without eye drops, the whites of my eyes were never been white, always a little off, tired, red & slightly jaundice looking. I had no idea this was an actual thing to this extent and that my body was suffering that badly but to see this diff almost instantly was incredibly reassuring ???? Moral of the story- listen to your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you EVEN if sometimes it’s not what we want to hear ❤️ #bii #cleareyes

A post shared by BEC DONLAN ???? CAKEMAKER (@sweatwithbec) on

It wasn’t easy for Donlan to find a surgeon to remove her implants. Her original surgeon told her she didn’t need to do it.

“He was like, ‘Breast implant illness isn’t a thing.’”

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Another surgeon seemed to think she was crazy.

“He was like, ‘Look, you’ve got a Sports Illustrated body. I’m going to ruin you. This is going to look terrible. I’m not doing it.’”

In the end, she decided on Dr Ip.

“He didn’t treat me like I was crazy,” she says. “This guy, he’s like ‘the boob man’. He’s the absolute expert when it comes to this stuff. He does implants every single day. But at the same time, he’s still okay about acknowledging that breast implants cause issues for some people.”

A month ago, Donlan finally had her implants removed. Within three hours of the surgery, she says her eyes looked “so different”. After a few days, she realised she was no longer feeling numb on her left side. She now finds she’s thinking more clearly.

“It’s almost embarrassing how much better I feel,” she says. “Every day I just feel better and better.”

Having the implants removed has changed her perspective.

“If people don’t want to book me for a job, don’t book me for a job. I don’t care.”

Donlan says it’s been good for her mental health to talk about the surgery.

“I think if you really bring attention to something and make it normal, then it’s fine. If I kept it quiet, then I think I’d have more issues with what it looks like.”

She’s hoping that being open about it will help other women.

“It’s insane how many people just feel so confused and so lost. You do have options, you do have support, you shouldn’t be so alone.”

Dr Ip told Mamamia:

“Breast Implant Illness has to be treated individually and can be a touchy subject between doctors and patients. I put education as the top priority and truly believe that is the most important aspect before treating my patients.  Breast implants are a foreign body, so as with any foreign body, they can have problems like infection, scar formation, seromas, etc.  When patients have confounding medical issues, it can make the issue worse and add additional stress, which further exasperates their medical issues.

“By removing the implants it can decrease a patient’s worry and stress of having implants, which can help patients feel better.  But if the underlying medical issues have not been resolved, they will later still feel the same. Presently, all of the major studies have not shown a link, but again, each case is unique and must be treated that way.”

Read more about Dr Ip here.

Feature Image: Instagram/@sweatwithbec

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