HEALTH MATTERS: Toxic beauty: One woman's return to health after breast implants

Winter Garden resident Andrea Durant is now on a path to healthiness, but for the last few years, she was incredibly sick and blames it on her recalled breast implants.

Andrea Durant before, left, and after her surgery to remove her breast implants, which she said made her extremely ill. She said her body was swollen, she looked older than her age and the implants “suck the life out of you.”
Andrea Durant before, left, and after her surgery to remove her breast implants, which she said made her extremely ill. She said her body was swollen, she looked older than her age and the implants “suck the life out of you.”
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If Andrea Durant could go back and talk to 25-year-old Andrea, she would tell her to be more accepting of herself and her body image. That conversation would have eliminated years of pain and exhaustion.

The Winter Garden resident wanted to feel better about herself, so, in 2005, she got breast implants. When she experienced a capsule contracture — when internal scar tissue forms a constricting capsule around a hardening breast implant — six years later, she had a second implant surgery on her left side and then became extremely sick.

Durant learned she had the Allergan Natrelle textured implant, which is under voluntary recall by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — but not before she was plagued with chronic fatigue, brain fog, unexplained joint pain all over her body and terrible migraines.

She had severe pain in her shoulder and had to wear a sling. Her foot hurt so much she couldn’t touch the ground. She was so tired she was breathless. She developed brown spots all over her body. She felt like she was failing her husband and her young child.

“I started tracking symptoms a year or so ago because I thought I had fibromyalgia,” Durant said. “I went to the doctor, and they diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.”

A medication for widespread pain helped slightly, but she still was miserable. She had four pregnancy losses in nine years but doctors couldn’t find a reason for them, she said.

Durant attributes them to the implants. She eventually found a doctor who agreed her implants were the cause of her medical issues.

“The implant inside is just slowing poisoning you,” she said. “Mine was, anyway. … I think the problem is that when you go to get implants (you think) it’s safe because it’s just saline. It’s just water, so if it bursts (doctors will) just go in and replace it. But the shell is silicone. From my research … they have found out there are heavy metals in the shells and women are getting poisoned by the metals.”

The FDA requested Allergan voluntarily recall because of an increased risk of implant-associated lymphoma.

“There are hundreds of thousands of women who are extremely ill,” Durant said.

Allergan would not pay for the removal but would pay for a new implant, she said, and many plastic surgeons don’t take insurance. She found a breast-reconstruction doctor in Clermont who accepted her insurance, and he performed a capsulectomy — removing the entire capsule with the implant inside so none of the toxins leached out. The procedure took nearly three hours because one of the capsules was stuck to her rib cage and had to be scraped off, she said.

“It was pretty miserable, but he got all of it, which was the important part,” she said. “My breasts look the same as they did before, which I’m grateful for.”

Her advice to women considering implants for cosmetic reasons: Love yourself more. I wish I had loved myself more because I didn’t and now I realize that I was perfect just the way I was. I might not have been the pinup type or a model, but if I had just lied myself more I would have had a better quality of life.”

Durant’s breast implants were removed June 24, and she said she felt better within a week.

She is eager to get back to her pre-implant health, when she was running a moms fitness group, exercised a dozen hours a week, practiced yoga and worked for L.A. Fitness.

“I'd rather be healthy and love my body for what it is,” she said.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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