Facing health issues, Georgia woman has breast implants removed

Kristy Dickerson, a Cumming, Georgia, entrepreneur, author, and mother of three, recently sat down to write the most difficult blog post of her life.

"My only goal with the blog is to say, look, this is my story," Dickerson says.

The story of the 19-year old her, who desperately wanted the saline breast implants that took her from a 34A to a 34D, and the 31-year old her, who desperately wanted them out of her body.

I almost didn't hit publish, because of my own insecurities," Dickerson says.

For a decade, Dickerson says, she loved the way the implants made her look.

"Up until the day I took them out, physically, they looked great," she says.

But, 3 years ago, when she was 28 and pregnant with her third son, Silas, Dickerson says she began developing random health problems.

"I lost about 18 pounds during my second part of my pregnancy, my gallbladder stopped working, and my lymph nodes became blocked," she says.

Soon, she says, she developed digestive problems, 28 different food sensitivities, and chronic infections. She also had severe acne and says her hair was falling out.

"I was just, like, "My health is spiraling out of control," Dickerson remembers.

Then, last summer, Dickerson ran into a friend with similar symptoms, who had had her breast implants removed.

"She goes, 'Kristy, I feel completely different,' Dickerson says.  "And I started wondering, could it be that?"

Alpharetta plastic surgeon Dr. Randal Rudderman says he gets that same question a lot.

"I have dozens of patients like this on a monthly basis," Rudderman says.

If you look at the scientific data, Dr. Rudderman says, the overwhelming majority of women with breast implants do well. 

But, he says, they're not "lifetime" devices, (Kristy's implants were 12-years old) and there are some known risks like capsular contracture and rupture or deflation of the implant. Still, Rudderman says, if you look at the medical literature, there is no evidence breast implants can trigger the kind of generalized symptoms Kristy Dickerson was experiencing.

"What makes this complicated is that a lot of these symptoms can be related to just generalized fatigue, they can be related to endocrine issues, they can be related to autoimmune problems," Rudderman explains.

Yet, with an estimated 30 million women worldwide with breast implants, Dr. Rudderman says, "It's not reasonable to expect that none of those women have issues."

Rudderman believes Kristy Dickerson may be part of a very small subset of women, whose health issues may be tied to their implants, but there is no blood test, or way to prove a connection.

So Kristy Dickerson knew there was no guarantee taking her implants out would resolve anything.

"I've met some women that had implants removed, thinking this is the cause, and they're not any better," she says.

In early January, Kristy Dickerson decided to take her chances. Dr. Rudderman surgically-removed her implants. It's been 4 and a half months.

"I feel amazing," Dickerson says.

Her symptoms have gradually disappeared.

"The only thing that's changed is I don't have implants in my body," Dickerson says.

And that blog post she almost didn't publish? It went viral.

"I hope sharing my story that other young girls will see this, and they'll look at me and see, I'm okay now," Dickerson says. "I'm an A (cup) now, and I am loving it, and it is me.  It was how I was meant to be."

Mentor, the company that manufactured Kristy Dickerson's implants, released the following statement to the FOX Medical Team:

"At Mentor, we are guided by patient safety and science, and patients can be assured that the science and long-term data from multiple clinical studies, including two 10-year, prospective clinical trials, support the safety and efficacy of our FDA-approved breast implant products that have been chosen by surgeons for millions of women worldwide. [1] We adhere to the highest standards of quality and closely monitor the performance of our products. We also continue to support ongoing clinical studies and share updated product safety information with surgeons in our product labeling and with patients in brochures and online as appropriate. The MENTORPromise™ Protection Plan offers patients and surgeons one of the industry’s most comprehensive product warranties - a lifetime guarantee for product replacement and 10-year financial assistance coverage for all implants.

"As with any surgical procedure, it is important for patients to understand the benefits and potential risks when deciding to have breast implant surgery and that breast implants are not lifetime devices. There are certain known complications and adverse outcomes associated with breast implants, the most common of which are capsular contracture, reoperation, implant removal, and rupture or deflation of the implant. Part of the success of any surgery is the follow-up between a doctor and patient. Regular exams based on established medical protocols and guidance from health care providers can prevent or detect known complications with breast implant surgery."

FOX 5 also reached out to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons for a response to Dickerson's story. We will include their response when it is made available.