My Breast Explant Surgery

I was unsure whether I was going to share this or not, but I’ve always been vulnerable, worn my heart on my sleeve and shared things that I hope could be helpful to those who might need it. So here goes…

18 years ago I had Breast Augmentation done in Johannesburg. I was 21 years old, I had absolutely nothing in the breast department, not even a little “bee sting”, which is what we said back then. I don’t know why I even bothered with a bra, because I wore a bra sized AA, which was baggy in front. I felt really insecure and unfeminine. After months of research and medical, professional opinions, I had the surgery. The silicone implants were placed under the muscle and I was really happy with them. I don’t think it was very obvious that I had my breasts done, and that was what I wanted – to look natural, but to actually have breasts.

One of my earliest memories, was coming home from the hospital, lying on my Mom and Dad’s couch eating Ginger biscuits because I felt nauseous, and yelling out: “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!”
My Mom came running, thinking something was wrong, but I was exclaiming “Oh my Gosh” because I looked down and had caught biscuit crumbs in my new cleavage – something I’d never had before.

They say you should replace your implants every 10 years, but that some can last longer. I never had any issues with mine and decided that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Before we moved to Greece in 2021, I had a medical check list to tick off – everything from seeing the Gynae, dentist and to check my 17 year old implants. Since I had been to a great surgeon in Johannesburg, I needed to see someone reputable in Cape Town. The surgeon I saw, said that there was nothing wrong with them, other than age (yay gravity) & breastfeeding 2 babies, which had caused my once perky breasts, to be a little a lot less perky. My option was I could have them removed, replaced and even lifted, but the price tag was eye watering and with an international move coming up, absolutely off the table. Thank goodness for Wonderbra 😉

We spent our year in Greece, and made the decision to move back home, which I know, I am so overdue a blog post on. I’m so sorry!

In the last 2 months or so, I started having this pain in my right breast… slight at first and then progressed to be more painful. My first instinct was: Uh-oh, I wonder if my now 18 year old implants aren’t so happy. Could they be leaking? Ruptured? Of course, I did what everyone advises you don’t… turn to Google. Even the symptoms of a ruptured implant wasn’t accurate and I knew I was going to have to see a doctor.

When the pain got to a point where there were some days I couldn’t hug my children, I decided to make an appointment to see the same plastic surgeon I’d seen the year and a bit before, to have them checked again. I had a Monday appointment, but on the Friday before, I was in so much pain, I made a GP appointment too.

I was expecting her to confirm my implant theory, but she wasn’t so sure it was that and suggested I do a Mammogram and Ultrasound. It took me completely by surprise, since I hadn’t thought anything but implant.

Monday arrived and I saw the Plastic Surgeon. Again, I was waiting for him to confirm my thoughts about the implants, but instead he booked me in for an urgent Mammogram and Ultrasound. It scared me a lot and I had all these thoughts whirling around my head, as I went down in the lift to Radiology and waited to be fit in.

The Mammogram and Ultrasound showed healthy breast tissue and I’ve never been more relieved and grateful. A stark reminder that our health is so important and should never be taken for granted. It also showed that I actually had breast tissue – something that was almost non-existent when I had my Breast Augmentation done 18 years ago, so I can only think that my 2 pregnancies helped in that department. The implants also looked to be in tact, but as the surgeon said, Radiology doesn’t always pick everything up.

It was a relief to know nothing was serious, but frustrating because I still was no closer to having any answers as to why my breast was so sore. The suggestion was to remove them, since they are 18 years old or live on Arnica tablets. Living on Arnica wasn’t a solution when I didn’t know why I was in pain.

I decided to go for a third opinion to Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Willem Erasmus. I liked his approach. I liked how he was interested in trying to find the cause and not just get me into surgery. He wasn’t trying to up-sell me cosmetic surgical procedures that I wasn’t there for in the first place. I was told about Breast Implant Illness – something that I’d actually heard about and had been reading up on. There’s still so much unknown with that and the symptoms seem so broad, that it’s hard to pinpoint sometimes. My pain seemed to be an enigma, but I had a gut feeling that it had to do with the implants and had a very difficult decision to make.

My options were:

  1. Leave it and take Arnica/anti-inflammatories/pain killers.
  2. Remove the 18 year old implants and replace with new implants and do a lift.
  3. Remove the 18 year old implants, and don’t replace them.

After 1001 questions to my surgeon, I opted for #3. Of course my #1 question was: What will I look like if I don’t replace the implants?

It felt superficial, but breasts are womanhood, part of my femininity and having had implants for my whole adult life I didn’t know how I’d feel or look without them. He told me that I would look a little dented and “deformed” for lack of a better word, until my body naturally grew some breast tissue in the space.

He suggested we not do a lift, let my body naturally “fill in the dent” and see what happens within 3-6 months, especially since I’ve discovered I actually have some breast tissue already. I needed to be realistic on my expectations – that even if my body fills in the dent – I’m not going to fill into 20 year old boobs, but close to 40 year old boobs. Sigh.
My options after we’ve given my body time to heal is to either put in a new implant and do a lift, or just do a lift, or leave as is. I like that I have options.

Our plan of action was to go into Theatre, but have them removed under Local Anaesthetic. Eek.

I did my best to mentally prepare myself and without being negative, prepared for the worst (in terms of how I’d look physically and feel psychologically) so that it wouldn’t be a shock.

On the morning of the procedure, the 26th September 2022, I was allowed to have something small to eat since it was going to be local and not general anaesthetic.

On the way in, freshly showered … wearing a zip up hoody, as I won’t be able to lift my arms above my head.

At 10:30, I filled in forms and sat in the waiting room so nervously. They gave me a Xanax, which helped slightly settle my nerves. The nurses were so kind and kept asking me if I was OK and eventually walked me into theatre, where I was greeted by Dr Erasmus.
“Ready?” he asked, with his music playing in the background.
“Yes and no.” I got onto the table and had a nurse by my side, squeezing my shoulder and another nurse by my head reassuring me. They cleaned my chest area with cold antiseptic and placed the sterile drapes over me. It felt really weird to be awake, but I figured having had 2 C-sections, this should be a walk in the park.

I will say, it hits different… A C-section results in a baby, which is amazing. This was quite traumatic at the time, the longest 45 mins of my life, but also over so quickly and now a month later, a vague memory.

I didn’t know what to expect and what they would find, would they be broken and leaking?
Congratulations – Twins! Kidding.
2 perfectly in tact implants were removed. I was completely surprised!
Introducing my new doorstoppers:

18 years old and perfectly in tact, can you believe it??

I was wheeled into recovery, where a hot cup of tea was waiting for me.

Immediately afterwards… I remember I was so scared to look down when I had to get dressed.

After some time, Sox was allowed to fetch me. It actually worked really well, because he had just fetched the boys from school and came to fetch me on the way home. The boys were so sweet and we had prepped them before hand that I was going to be sore for some time, that I wouldn’t be able to pick them up, or do bath time and that they couldn’t run and jump on me. Between Sox and the boys, I had the best nurses looking after me and bringing me tea.

I took the week off to recover, unsure what to expect but the recovery was better than I imagined. Surgery was Monday, and by Wednesday I had stopped taking pain killers. Thursday I went to a very close friends Birthday dinner, which was so lovely. Sox helped me out the bath and I had my hair wash blow waved professionally because I wasn’t able to raise my arms above my shoulders. We went to a wedding on Saturday, where I made my sports bra work with my dress.

I did try to drive sooner than I was supposed to and I felt all the internal stitches. I actually got Sox to Uber to me to drive me home, and I then waited the proper time of driving again.

The best part is the pain is gone. I don’t know if it was Breast Implant Illness, or if after all this time my body wasn’t happy with them in anymore and I was sore, or if there was inflammation, but I can hug my children again without it hurting.
The most surprising part of all is how I feel about myself. I couldn’t be happier that I’ve removed them. I wasn’t expecting that – I thought I’d miss them/mourn them, but it’s been the opposite.

It’s very hard to explain, but I’ve never felt more myself than ever before. Weird because it’s not like I wasn’t feeling myself… I certainly didn’t know any different for 18 years, but I just feel better. I feel less inflamed and people, who don’t know I’ve had the Breast Explant surgery, are asking me what I’ve done – all saying that I look healthier. I feel it and again, didn’t know or think I wasn’t feeling healthy.

I’m totally surprised with what boob I actually have. I know what I had 18 years ago – basically non-existent and today, I think I’m a very small B (I still need to be properly measured though.)
I’m not nearly as “deformed” as I was expecting and perhaps my “worst case scenario” in my head was so bad, that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought (thank goodness.) Don’t get me wrong… a month ago, I was definitely puckered, dented and drooped… but a month later, the dent is less and the puckered skin a little less loose/puckered – like my skin has tightened a little. Our bodies are remarkable and I feel like my breast has actually lifted a little – almost like the silicone was weighing down the little I have. Realistic expectations – not 20 year old lifted, but I’ll still take it. 😉 Happy dance.

Dr. Erasmus was excellent – for someone who Keloids, the new scars I have are so fine and neat.

I’m still in “sexy” sports bra’s and definitely going to need new bras soon. I tried the bra’s I have on, and it’s quite funny to see the wide gap between my skin and the cup. I’m definitely no longer a full C cup. Shame.

I am a very visual person and Pinterest is by far my most favourite app. I searched for images that have flat chests to get some inspiration on how to dress for my new body. 18 years ago I was drawn to cleavage and here I am totally drawn to how beautiful a flat décolletage looks. Here were some pics I pinned:

I don’t regret having my Breast Augmentation 18 years ago – I loved having the boobs I did. I’m happy to say I don’t regret removing them 18 years later and I’ll see how I feel in a few months when my body has healed properly, but I doubt I’ll put new ones in. I just know you can never say never.

At the end of the day, your body is yours and you need to make decisions that are best for you. Health is everything and if something isn’t feeling right, don’t waste time in fear.

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  • Reply KateF

    Such a fascinating read! Thank you for sharing X

    October 30, 2022 at 9:42 pm
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Thanks Kate x

      November 3, 2022 at 7:56 am
    • Reply Melissa Blom


      You are absolutely amazing! Such a inspiration and I am glad you are feeling better. Thanks for sharing beautiful!

      November 3, 2022 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply Trish

    Hi Bailey wow I really enjoyed reading thus. I had breast implants done 23 years ago. I suffer from chrons disease. Lately I’ve been considering having mine removed. Your story has been so helpful and inspiring. Thank you.

    October 30, 2022 at 9:45 pm
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      It’s definitely worth getting a medical, professional opinion! Good luck with your decision and if I can help with some answering some questions, please let me know x

      November 3, 2022 at 7:56 am
  • Reply Jangeline Cacchione

    So beautifully written Bailey. Thank you for sharing your story. You re an inspiration to many.

    October 31, 2022 at 5:25 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      That’s very kind, thank you Jangeline x

      November 3, 2022 at 7:55 am
  • Reply Steve Isaacs

    Thanks for sharing Bailz…I’m sure your story will be a great encouragement to many woman…

    I read you moved back home…are you guys back in SA?

    October 31, 2022 at 6:50 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Hi Steve, yes, we returned to beautiful Cape Town, 7 months ago, after a year in Greece x

      November 3, 2022 at 7:55 am
  • Reply Clare

    HI Bailey. Thank you sharing your story. So interesting and fascinating, and a gentle reminder that we are unique and our goals, stories and dreams are all tailormade. Each to their own. Thank you xx

    October 31, 2022 at 9:20 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Thanks Clare, you’re so right!

      November 3, 2022 at 7:54 am
  • Reply Desiree Day

    Hi Bailey thank you for sharing very interesting. Lots of love

    October 31, 2022 at 12:05 pm
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      Thanks Des 🙂

      November 3, 2022 at 7:54 am
  • Reply Madelein

    Loved your story. Proud of you too. That was not a small decision

    November 3, 2022 at 7:53 am
    • Reply BaileySchneider

      I really appreciate that, thank you!

      November 3, 2022 at 7:54 am
      • Reply Tracey

        What made you move back to SA from Greece. Look forward to reading that post.

        January 7, 2023 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Che

    Loved reading this. And yay for feeling healthier and more yourself!! Xxx

    November 3, 2022 at 8:01 am
  • Reply MrsFF

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know removing implants was called explant so k definitely learnt something new. Thank you for sharing your story.

    November 7, 2022 at 9:34 am
    • Reply Tarryn

      Beautiful story to share Bailey ❤️

      November 8, 2022 at 6:44 am
  • Reply Sonia Solomon

    Well done Bails for such an authentic and honest explanation of your experience. Stay well, gorgeous and healthy ❤️

    November 7, 2022 at 9:54 am
  • Reply Eretha

    Loved reading this! I have had my implants in for 20 years and am getting more and more BII symptoms. I’ve decided to remove them. Do you have any surgeon recommendations? I live in Canada but want to have the surgery in South Africa where my family can support me.

    October 27, 2023 at 12:24 am
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