My name is Keri McElroy. I traveled here from California at my own expense, so I have no conflict of interest. Thank you for letting me speak today.
I was augmented with Mentor smooth silicone gel cohesive implants in July of 2009 because I was very thin, and I had double A-cup breasts and I just wanted to feel like a woman.
I was told they were safe, and the only risks involved were infection and capsular contracture. I’d like to add, I was extremely healthy. I had no allergies and no preexisting health issues.
Immediately after implanting, I began to catch frequent long-lasting colds and flus.
By 2012, slow oncoming symptoms began, and I got tired very easily, developed gut issues, anxiety, my vision began to decline, I had chronic UTIs and yeast infections. Yet I absolutely loved my implants and I thought my ailments were due to being a single mom working two jobs and aging.
By 2015, I started having severe fatigue where it was absolutely difficult to get up and take care of my children, and depression kicked in.
By 2017, I had rashes all over my face, brain fog, breast pain, muscle and joint pain, and at this point was when my friend referred [me] to the online support group where I read hundreds of stories that were my story.
I returned to see my original plastic surgeon, who reassured me my implants were fine. I should not have listened to her.
The next year, before my explant surgery, not only did I develop almost 50 debilitating symptoms, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroid, I had elevated cholesterol, Raynaud’s syndrome, half of my hair fell out. I had an extreme choking sensation in my neck, and my face was covered in extreme rashes and bone dry.
My anxiety and paranoia became so severe I was having constant panic attacks and contemplating suicide, because if this was my quality of life for the rest of my life, I didn’t want to live anymore.
I was a shell of the vibrant, outgoing woman I once was, and all my general practitioner wanted to do was send me to a psychiatrist.
I explanted my intact implants September 26th, 2018, exactly six months ago today, with a complete en-bloc explant. Most of my symptoms are gone or improved.
By four months postop, my thyroid had healed itself without meds. My cholesterol dropped to normal levels by itself. My hair started growing back, my face completely cleared up, and my anxiety and depression disappeared.
For eight years I thought my implants were the best decision I had ever made, and by nine years, I truly believed I was going to die.
Of course, these women who have only had them for 1, 2, or maybe even 5 years think they have no issues and love them, but where are those women going to be in 10, 15, 20 years?
Women need to be warned of all the risks involved when making the decision to augment or reconstruct. They need to be able to get that informed consent, and doctors need to recognize breast implants causing illness when women come looking for answers.
For decades, hundreds of thousands of women have become ill with no idea what’s wrong with them and just being told it’s all in their head. Just because this isn’t happening to the doctors or the surgeons doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
[Open public comment given by breast implant recipient Keri McElroy, at the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel, FDA White Oak Campus, Building #31, Great Room, on March 26, 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.]