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My Health Was Not Worth the Risk

Updated: Mar 31, 2019

My name is Dawn Criss, and I received my textured breast implants in 2008 when I was 38 years of age. It was a personal choice that I had been thinking about for many years. At that time I was a Nurses Aid. I did my due diligence and read everything I could find about the pros and cons of breast implants. There was no information linking any form of cancer to them. The worst that it said could happen would be for capsular contracture to form but that I could avoid that by implanting the best of the best….biocell textured “gummy bear” implants.

For 6 years following I was fine. Healthy, active, working with no issues. Then in March of 2014 I started having intestinal issues. With this came fatigue, all over body pain, unexplained rashes and terrible itching, back pain and hair loss. I was going to the bathroom every 30 minutes and passing about a cup of blood a day. I was scared to eat, I hardly slept. In August my body finally had enough, and I ended up in hospital where I was diagnosed with Severe Ulcerative Colitis.

For the next 3.5 years I struggled to keep working, eventually starting a radical diet called SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet. This diet was the beginning of getting my life back and put me into a “soft” remission. As long as I stayed on the diet I was doing ok. I still had back pain, mystery rashes and itching on my breasts and stomach and was still losing hair but I was no longer passing blood.

Then in August of 2017 my left breast swelled up twice the size of the other and I was experiencing pain in my armpit to the point of sleeping was an issue again. I went to see my doctor and he sent me for an ultra sound. The radiologist called him after the procedure was done and mentioned that he had been reading up on something called BIA ALCL, a rare lymphoma caused by textured breast implants and that he thought it might be possible that I had this disease. I underwent an ultrasound guided needle aspiration and the fluid was tested. It came back negative for the lymphoma markers. I also had an MRI done to rule out rupture.

During this short time, I was also referred to a plastic surgeon. My husband & I met with him and decided that the next course of action would be to remove my textured implants since these were linked to the BIA ALCL and I would replace with smooth implants. I underwent surgery on December 22, 2017 in which my textured implants and attached capsules were removed. A week or so later I went for my post op check and it was revealed to me that I had double capsules surrounding my original implants and that the “inside” capsule and left implant tested positive for BIA ALCL. The cure? Removal of second set of capsules. My next surgery was scheduled for the end of January 2018.

While I was waiting for my surgery date, I did some major research into the connection between Auto Immune Diseases like my Ulcerative Colitis and breast implants. I found numerous articles written by an Immunologist linking these two things together with no question. So, when the offer was given to me to have the smooth implants put back in I kindly declined. If there was any chance that I could heal my Colitis I had to take it. My plastic surgeon was very supportive.

Since my “explant” in January many of my symptoms and issues have subsided. I am losing less hair, haven’t had any rashes appear, back pain and fatigue have tapered off and I am able to sleep better. I have been able to eat more regular foods in moderation but still have to take digestive supplements and probiotics to keep the UC under control. Turning an Auto Immune Disease “OFF” is going to be much harder and take more time than it did to turn it “ON” if it is at all possible to do, but I am certain that it was the implants that caused it. There is no doubt in my mind or by the responses of my body. I look and feel healthier and my bloodwork keeps coming back better and better.

I am disturbed by the fact that no clinic wanted to take me on for follow up. My PS told me that the Lymphoma Clinic didn’t have interest in me and I have never seen an Oncologist. Any follow up has been with my Immunologist which I am very blessed and fortunate to have him as he is a very knowledgeable and a skilled practitioner. He is making sure I get follow up PET scans and monitors my bloodwork. He truly cares about his patients.

This is a hard thing for many of us to deal with. It affects not only our bodies but our minds, our relationships, our working ability and our own sense of security. My advice to any woman, young or old who is thinking about getting implants, “Love your body the way it is. Find a partner who loves you the way it is. Don’t mess around with nature”. Your health is not worth the risk!

Watch Dawn's testimony at the FDA Hearing, Monday, March 25, 2019

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