BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. (WXYZ) — For the first time in the more than 20 years I've been covering stories concerning problems with breast implants, I sat down with a local plastic surgeon who decided to remove her breast implants and to speak about it publicly.
This after hearing story after story about how sick they were making her patients.
Now she too has a story to tell about her recovery after they were explanted from her body.
She is leading a study so the science will back up what so many women have complained about for years.
Dr. Amy DeRosa has been a plastic surgeon since 2012. A lucrative practice that used to include breast augmentation. Until she could turn a blind eye no longer to women complaining about what's been labeled "breast implant illness."
“As I was meeting each and every one of these ladies, I was finding myself relating to a lot of their complaints and symptoms that they were experiencing,” said plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Amy DeRosa.
Insomnia, heart palpitations, bad headaches ringing of the ears were a handful of symptoms women have concerns about over the years.
“Were you having any problems at all, any symptoms?” asked WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford.
“Yeah, so I can relate to some things like hair loss, joint pain, brain fog,” said Dr. Amy DeRosa.
And bloodshot eyes, even when she'd had a full night's sleep.
So, after 10 years, she removed her breast implants and decided to speak about her ordeal publicly.
“There's basically an expiration time frame for implants as we know they are not lifelong devices, and I was approaching that actually kind of going over that 10-year time frame,” said DeRosa.
“What happens when women don't get them out at the ten-year mark,” Clifford asked.
“It's a risk stratification, and that was evaluated in the implants years ago and they figured out what the rupture rate was,” explained DeRosa.
But the transformation was not easy.
“It was quite drastic and emotional, and I shed some tears,” said DeRosa.
“So, you look in the mirror and something is gone, and your body is different? It's a change I had them in for ten years so it's ten years of my identity,” said DeRosa.
Then relief, symptoms of breast implant illness began clearing up almost immediately, no more red eyes.
“My patients would take pictures and come in and these women would show me this phenomenon but to actually experience it was one of the immediate changes that I felt,” said DeRosa.
Last week Dr. DeRosa's Facebook post about her journey to remove her breast implants got more than 89,000 reactions and counting. For her patients, it has been a struggle trying to get help from other plastic surgeons.
“They tell me I'm going to look awful; I'm going to hate myself and they want to put new ones in and you're the first person I've seen who will take them out and leave them out,” said DeRosa.
Dr. DeRosa no longer does breast augmentation. Only explant surgery for the last five years. She does hundreds of consultations for women who come to her from all over the world.
“Taking implants out can be physically devastating not only especially for the length of time they've been in size of implants lack of breast tissue stretching of skin so taking them out is a process that might need to be adjusted a couple of times,” said DeRosa.
Dr. DeRosa says she has refined her explant surgery technique over the years. The surgeries which take about two hours, and a month of recovery time are not cheap and not covered by insurance. Dr. Derosa performs 6 to 7 surgeries a week.
Each of the patient's stories about breast implant illness and recovery is so similar. She was asked to document nearly 200 of her cases in a study with Beaumont Hospital.
“Some of the residents at the hospital that are my assistants there they said we should put this to some science because you've got something going on here,” said DeRosa.
In the meantime, while there is a black box warning on breast implants.
“I think the more important thing is for us on the in the medical community those that are supposed to be protecting these patients that we develop an informed consent,” said DeRosa.
This so patient will read about the risks before agreeing to undergo breast augmentation.
For Dr. DeRosa, what's key is showing the science behind alleged breast implant illness which could lead to more protection for women who unknowingly put perceived beauty ahead of their own health.
Dr. DeRosa will be submitting the data from her study with Beaumont in the next few months with the hope of publication next year.
You should also know for the first time in nearly two decades breast augmentation is no longer the number one requested plastic surgery and breast explant surgery is now on the rise.