Hi. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting to be called up here today.
Okay. My name is Tara Hopko, and I traveled here from New Jersey at my own expense. I have no conflict of interest being here.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.
I’m very happy to be here because one year ago I truly did not know that I would be alive today.
At age 35, I was a wife, a mom, a former body builder. I was energetic, happy and healthy, athletic. I decided to have a breast augmentation for aesthetic reasons. I wanted to feel more like a woman.
My symptoms began subtly but almost immediately.
Just weeks after my surgery, I become uncharacteristically exhausted.
Most nights I was asleep before my two young children. They’d have to wake me on the couch to tuck them in bed.
My lymph nodes were swollen throughout my body, and I had horrible brain fog to the point where I had to carry a notebook at work to write down people’s names just to remember them.
I had panic attacks that woke me in the night and anxiety that kept me shut in, in my house.
The difficulty breathing and the heart palpitations made it impossible to exercise anymore. My hair stopped growing, my vision was blurry.
Due to the silent reflux, all the GI issues, I couldn’t eat without pain and nausea.
Every morning getting out of bed, my legs were numb and my feet burned. My joints ached constantly, and I ended up in the hospital on Christmas Day 2017. I was unable to walk. They didn’t know why. Spontaneous tendons and—spontaneous tears in my tendons. It was debilitating.
My worst symptom was my acne. Most nights I would sit with ice packs on my face. I had cystic acne. (I don’t know if you can see this picture, I wasn’t prepared to be up here, but I was in so much pain all the time.)
At the point where I thought I was so sick, I spoke with my husband and I talked to him about my wishes for when I die. I was prepared to say goodbye to my family because I didn’t think that I was going to make it through all of this.
Doctors told me that I was simply a busy working mom going through early menopause.
My frustration led me to search the internet because, unfortunately, social media is the only place that we can turn sometimes. These doctors suggested yoga, meditation, [and] antidepressants.
I had my implants taken out almost a year ago. My acne is gone. My symptoms are almost all gone. I am the person that I used to be.
And if I knew anything of what could have happened, I would’ve said no thank you to my implants.
I implore you, please take textured implants off of the market, and I implore you to please give informed consent to these women. We deserve to know.
Everyone deserves to have a choice, I agree with that, but we deserve to have an informed choice.
Thank you so much.
[Open public comment given by breast implant recipient Tara Hopko, at the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel, FDA White Oak Campus, Building #31, Great Room, on March 25, 2019. The title of this article does not constitute part of the speaker’s presentation to the FDA Panel, and any hyperlinks within the text or text appearing in brackets were added for clarity or ease of use by editors.]