Pictured: Sarah Harris, 29
A former Playboy model who took out a $30,000 loan to get ‘toxic’ breast implants removed says the silicone made her so sick she had debilitating joint pain, struggled to breath deeply and suffered blackouts.
Sarah Harris, from Auckland in New Zealand, was 21 when she had an operation to remove a cyst in one of her breasts – but the operation left her with one C-cup – which was her natural size – and one significantly smaller A-cup.
‘Doctors asked me if I wanted a boob job to even them out, and I said “yeah, okay, sure”, and then I had new boobs two days later,’ the 29-year-old said.
‘I was about to go overseas for my modelling career at the time and I was so excited that I didn’t really have time to think about the decision properly.’
Surgeons used the same size implants for her already uneven chest, which meant one side ended up being a D-cup and the other was an E-cup – so she went back under the knife in Thailand in 2017 to balance them out.
The influencer and business owner, who modelled for Playboy, Maxim and Zoo, and has 2.3 million Instagram followers, had a few unexplained symptoms prior to her second augmentation – such as hormonal issues, fatigue and joint pain – but her health deteriorated rapidly afterwards.
Ms Harris started feeling better immediately after getting her implants removed on Thursday, and opened up to Daily Mail Australia about her ordeal to discourage others from getting breast augmentation.
Pictured: Sarah Harris modelling for Zoo at 21, just after her first breast augmentation
Ms Harris, 29, is pictured the day after her breast implants were removed. She said she has more energy, despite just coming out of surgery
Sarah Harris is pictured with her fiancé, Josh Williams, 28, who works as a personal trainer
Following her second surgery in 2017, Ms Harris started getting ‘full-body rashes out of nowhere’.
‘I got some tests done and it turned out I was allergic to heavy metals, like tin,’ she said.
‘The allergies were so bad doctors asked me if I worked in a metal factory, and it turns out heavy metals are used in breast implants, but no one tells you that.’
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, silicone breast implants contain trace amounts of heavy metals, including platinum and tin.
Ms Harris had debilitating fatigue, she sometimes blacked out, had night sweats, digestive issues, hair loss, she couldn’t breath deeply, and had excruciating joint pain that was so bad her fiancé Josh Williams had to help her get out of bed.
The pain in her hip escalated to the point where she had surgery to shave the bone down – ‘they thought maybe the bones were too close to each other, which might have been causing the pain,’ she added.
Ms Harris decided to go public with her health struggles to make sure other people are properly informed before they get breast implants
Ms Harris has struggled with body image in the past, but said she’s happy she got her implants removed
Her symptoms fluctuated rapidly from day-to-day, but the pain didn’t stay away.
‘I was also getting really bad anxiety and I was told to keep taking deep breaths, and I couldn’t – every time I tried, it felt like there was something pushing against my chest, which gave me more anxiety,’ Ms Harris said.
‘My body honestly felt like it was 92.’
Throughout her battle for a diagnosis, one doctor told her it could be a condition called ‘breast implant illness’ – a term which refers to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after breast implants.
Ms Harris initially shrugged the suggestion off – ‘having big boobs was part of my job, and you don’t want elective surgery to be the reason you’re unhealthy,’ she said.
‘You’ve created the look you want to achieve and then it’s taken away from you.’
She was sent to a breast implant surgeon, who suggested she get a scan that would reveal any inflammation in her body.
The photos above were taken two weeks apart – Ms Harris had acne and shadows under her eyes prior to getting her implants removed (left). After the surgery, she shadows went away (right)
Sarah Harris had full-body rashes (pictured left) and suffered hair loss (pictured right) as a result of her implants
The scan showed bright red patches of swollen tissue and fluid surrounding her chest – her inflammation glowed brighter on the scan that doctors often see in people with breast cancer.
‘It was then that I realised I needed to make a decision for myself,’ she said.
The decision to get the implants removed was an expensive one.
Ms Harris and her fiancé were already out-of-pocket due to their wedding plans next year, and decided they’d have to take out a personal loan to cover the $30,000 surgery.
She had the surgery on Thursday and immediately felt better.
Doctors said she struggled to take deep breaths because scar tissue from her implant operations was attached to the muscle, and pulled with every deep breath she took.
Surgeons had to burn the scar tissue from the muscle.
Ms Harris is pictured with her fiancé Josh Williams after her surgery to get her implants removed
Ms Harris is excited to see how her life will change as she recovers from surgery (pictured with her fiancé)
‘When I took my first deep breath after getting them removed, I cried,’ she said.
The pain in her joints is also gone, along with her fatigue and the dark shadows under her eyes.
Ms Harris struggled with an eating disorder and her body image throughout her modelling career, and was a bit concerned about how her chest would look once the implants were removed.
‘I’ve never looked in the mirror in my adult life and not seen implants,’ she said.
‘But I had a sneak peak [on Friday] morning and I’m actually happy with how they look.’
She initially wanted to keep her health struggles to herself, but decided to go public to discourage others from making her mistakes.
‘I shared my story and I had so many girls in my Instagram messages saying they’d cancelled their implant appointments,’ Ms Harris said.
‘Now I want as many people to know as possible, because maybe I can save someone from going through what I went through.’
WHAT IS BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS?
Breast implant illness (BII) refers to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after undergoing reconstruction or cosmetic augmentation with breast implants. It is also sometimes referred to as autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome.
BII can occur with any type of breast implant, including silicone gel-filled, saline-filled, smooth surface, textured surface, round, or teardrop-shaped.
As well as changes to the appearance and feel of the breast some potential side effects include pain, infection, swelling or irritation, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes or bruising.
Reported symptoms of BII include fatigue, chest pain, hair loss and headaches chills, light sensitivity, chronic pain, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.
In many, but not all cases, surgery to remove the breast implants improves or completely resolves the BII symptoms.
BII is not currently recognized as an official medical diagnosis, and there is no diagnosis code for it. It is poorly understood and hasn’t been studied much as a unique condition.