ONE woman has opened up about her regret over her breast implants, admitting it cost her thousands of dollars and even the ability to work.
Maria Gmitro, 48, told The U.S. Sun that it also hindered her capacity to parent and she had to get them removed after just three years.
Now, as the president and founder of the Breast Implant Safety Alliance (BISA), she's cautioning others.
Maria was 39 years old with two teenage daughters when she got augmentation mammaplasty, a boob job.
She was looking to correct the asymmetry in her chest — and though it wasn't something she'd spent years wanting, she had the money and took the opportunity.
"I just think it had become so normalized, and I had so many friends and acquaintances that had breast implants, and I thought they put these into breast cancer survivors," Maria said.
"How bad can they be?"
What she didn't know was that there are some dangers associated with this type of cosmetic surgery.
Unfortunately, Maria was forced to find out the hard way.
"Within six months, I started experiencing some issues," she said.
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"They were simple at first: a little more trouble sleeping, inflammation, and rashes.
"It got to the point where I had to stop teaching to focus on my health to figure out what was going on."
At the time, Maria had thought she'd done enough research on the risks involved in breast implant surgery.
She talked to friends who were nurses and consulted several surgeons, all of whom assured her the implants she was getting were the "latest and greatest FDA approved."
Of course, Maria fully trusted their words.
But now she regrets it and she's telling other women who are considering enhancements to do more research.
"This is a particular medical device that is marketed directly to consumers, from people that make a profit. So informed consent is not mandatory," Maria explained.
"It's still somebody selling you a product."
"The doctors, we noticed, they might say something like, 'Oh, have you heard of breast implant illness?
"Well, you know, if that happens to you, we'll just take them out, but they don't tell the patient it could cost them $10,000.'"
By 40, Maria's health had only gotten worse. A rash had spread to her arms, chest, and upper back area.
She went to a doctor who told her these symptoms were most likely associated with her age, not her implants.
However, upon further research, Maria found other women experiencing similar effects after their surgeries.
Once Maria had her implants removed, her health improved drastically.
No matter the age a woman is when she gets implants, the physical dangers are the same.
Rupture, gel bleeding, inflammation, capsular contracture, lymphoma, and other cancers are all associated risks.
Additionally, getting breast implants will change the shape of your ribcage — a fact Maria wasn't aware of until she got hers.
For younger women with enhancements, this could cause a different issue for them as they get older.
"Later in life, your body has changed, and your skin is sagging," Maria explained.
"You could remove implants and see your chest concave, which is shocking compared to having your chest with implants.
"When you're young like that, you don't really know what health issues might be developing with the implants in your body.
"Scar tissue develops around the implant to protect your body from this foreign object, but that scar tissue can grow into the nerves and impact some of your mobility."
Plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Barrett pointed out that the younger you are when getting surgery, the bigger potential for issues as you age and gain weight.
"There are a few things that can affect long-term results including weight fluctuations or breast growth," he said.
"Aesthetically, the position can change and the overall result can be compromised if there is a significant change to the breasts or body through weight gain."
Physical changes to the body shape should concern younger women if they want to get implants and have babies.
But other than that, issues with breastfeeding are very rare.
"It's typically just 1 in 10 patients. We see this when the implants are done over the muscle or if they're done too large for the frame," Dr. Barrett explained.
"Implants over 400 ccs have an increased risk of complication."
According to Maria and Dr. Barrett, a huge concern for young women and teenagers wanting enhancements is mental, not physical.
Maria said: "Getting breast implants at a very young age may lead to developing a sense of self that is dependent on having temporary or costly devices."
And with more social media influencers documenting their experiences with breast augmentation, more adolescents could be vulnerable to this mindset.
Dr. Barrett noted: "Social media is definitely contributing to unrealistic aspirations. It's contributing to body ideals that may not be realistic or healthy for the average young girl."
She added social media was also "giving access to a younger demographic."
"We get DMs through our @Drdanielbarrett instagram handle from minors asking if they're eligible to do surgery with parent consent."
Added pressures from the celebrity world also contribute to women's desire for surgery, our expert added.
She said: "The Kardashians are notoriously known for flaunting and monetizing their physique.
"Social media is contributing to insecurities in young girls as well.
"Patients undergoing these procedures typically have a long term goal or aspiration of feeling confident, sexy and proportionate to their frame."
While for many surgery boosts their self-esteem, Maria warned there's a risk of only getting into a relationship post-surgery.
"Other risks include partnering with someone who has only known you with the temporary devices in your body," Maria added.
"We've noticed that it comes to a point of contention for couples later if she decides to ex-plant."
A black box warning has now been placed on breast augmentation.
"There are no long-term safety data on breast implants," said Maria.
"Those post-market approval studies were discontinued, so we don't have a lot of the information that could impact patient care today.
"Overall, the public has not been fully informed about the potential risks associated with breast implants."
Dr. Barrett suggested interested women utilize the growing accessibility on social media to message surgeons any questions or concerns.
Finding and reviewing the work of a reputable specialist is necessary.
Researching pictures of implants and surgery complications is beneficial as well.
"Sometimes the pictures do more than just the words fully explore any alternatives to implants," Maria admitted.
"Schedule regular health checkups, and monitor your breasts for any changes.
"Make sure your healthcare professionals know to put it in your medical record that you have an implanted medical device in case you do have issues."
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Both Maria and Dr. Barrett agree that most importantly, any young woman or teenager should ensure they're getting the surgery for the right reasons.
Every option should be explored, as well as every possible medical complication considered before going ahead with the augmentation.
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