The day the photograph wearing clothes was taken I was already very ill. In the photo (a friend cropped out) I struck a playful pose feigning energy and vitality that had long ago left me. I could barely function. I was still trying to push through the illness that would eventually become too much to pretend through.
The photo with my ruptured implant superimposed was taken during my ‘BEFORE’ photo shoot for an upcoming gallery project.
When we see images of implanted women we see only the exterior. Inside, long before the women themselves are aware, their chest wall is undergoing destructive changes. Even if there is not yet ‘gel bleed’ or rupture; the body’s immune system is working hard from the time of implant.
Inevitably there will be leaching of silicone and chemicals, which the immune system tries to wall off, forming a protective capsule around the implant. It works for a while, but then the silicone and chemicals breach the capsule exterior and the immune system creates another layer. This process will repeat until the time of explant, with the capsule becoming ever thicker. If there is rupture the response is greater. The capsule can eventually become hard and painful; this is called capsular contracture. It can cause the breasts to become misshapen.
In time calcification, acute inflammation, necrotized tissue, infection (fungal and/or bacterial), granulomas and other complications can develop in the chest wall. Out of sight, out of mind.
When the immune system has to fight too hard, for too long, it fatigues and becomes confused; this is the point where autoimmune illness happens. The immune system attacks everything, including the woman’s own body.
We are bombarded with media images glamorizing breast implants with no real dialogue around consequence. Considering that breast augmentation has become alarmingly prevalent, especially with young women, I feel we need to create some awareness around it. The implications and potential consequences beyond what implanted women can even imagine.
The next time you see an image of an implanted woman I hope you will ‘see’ with awareness and imagine what her chest wall looks like, instead of just seeing the exterior.