New implant illness doctors tried to dismiss: Fatigue, chronic pain, insomnia, even hair loss — thousands of women say they’re suffering after breast enlargements

  • Ana Remigio, 45, lives in North London with her husband, Joao, and two children
  • Says she was in excruciating pain for a decade and had her implants removed
  • UK's regulatory authority receives 500 reports of breast implant problems a year

The pain felt as if my life was leaving my body and no one could do anything to help me,' says Ana Remigio, 45. 'I had awful joint and muscle pain in my hands, wrists and toes, as well as terrible fatigue, headaches and pain in my breasts.

'Sometimes I couldn't get out of bed. I was desperate. When my daughter started to walk, I remember screaming in pain if she stepped on my foot even though she was tiny.'

Ana, who lives in North London with her husband, Joao, and children Sam, 22, and Jo, 12, lived with this debilitating pain for more than a decade. 

Doctors proclaimed themselves at a loss to explain it — but, after reading about her symptoms online, she became utterly convinced that they were caused by her breast implants, so much so that last year she paid to have them removed privately.

Ana, a social media manager, had the implants inserted in 2001 and experienced no problems until after Jo's birth six years later.

'I breastfed her, which the cosmetic surgeon had said would be totally safe, but that's when my health problems started,' she says.

Ana, who lives in North London with her husband, Joao, and children Sam, 22, and Jo, 12, lived with this debilitating pain for more than a decade

'I was referred to a rheumatologist, I had mammograms and ultrasound scans which showed nothing. 

'I was told I was probably suffering the start of osteoarthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome or a reaction to some kind of past trauma.

'Then, at one point, a young doctor turned to me and said: "Do you think about illness a lot?" '

Ana felt he was accusing her of making it all up.

'I knew I wasn't imagining it. I was so angry. I'd already had a baby, I knew what motherhood felt like and I knew what being tired felt like. This was on a completely different level.'

A rational and intelligent woman, Ana is one of thousands worldwide who say they are victims of a mysterious condition that they call Breast Implant Illness (BII).

They report similar symptoms — including fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, headaches, chills, photosensitivity, chronic pain, brain fog and sleep disturbance — which many believe to be caused by some sort of immune reaction to the presence of a foreign object in the body, and which, for many, cleared up once the implants had been removed.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is now receiving 500 to 600 reports of breast implant problems a year.

Yet BII isn't a recognised medical diagnosis, and there are no tests to prove its presence in the body.

Instead, many doctors put the symptoms down to a combination of factors, ranging from separate autoimmune conditions to depression, menopause and what's known as 'mass sociogenic illness', where stress and fear about the potential harm caused by implants lead women to believe, and quite genuinely feel, that they are experiencing terrible pain.

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