Influencer Sarah Harris after having her breast implants removed. Photo / Supplied
A Kiwi social media influencer who used to define herself by her fake breasts is celebrating the removal of her implants.
Now Sarah Harris, 29, who has modelled for Playboy and Maxim, wants to warn other young women that artificially enhancing their bodies won’t make them happy and could make them sick.
Harris has suffered debilitating symptoms that she blames on her silicone gel implants. But it’s taken five years “in denial” to get to this point, as Harris feared losing her looks without big breasts.
She first got implants at 21 after doctors removed a benign lump in her breast, leaving her with different cup sizes.
“I was modelling for companies like Maxim and being told, okay, now you’re gonna have one A-breast and one D. I was like ‘oh my God, put implants in’.”
In 2017 she got new implants in Thailand. Within months she began to experience debilitating symptoms, from full body rashes and clumps of hair falling out to chronic fatigue and excruciating pain that made it hard to get out of bed or walk the dog.
“I ended up having every test under the sun to try to find out what was going on. And they told me I had IBS and autoimmune issues and all these different things that just keep coming up inconclusive.”
Despite numerous suggestions that her implants could be causing her illness, Harris said she was “in denial”.
“I just kept thinking no, it can’t be that. I just kept looking everywhere else to try to figure out what else it could possibly be because I didn’t want to take away my looks.”
Her fiance Joshua Antonio Williams, who is also her personal trainer and business partner, called her “a 29-year-old living in an 89-year-old’s body”.
“Some days she can’t get out of bed and she can’t walk and she can’t bend over.”
Eventually a new GP referred Harris to a top New Zealand surgeon. Thermography scans showed major inflammation in both breasts.
A letter from the surgeon said she had “inflammatory and autoimmune symptoms associated with her breast implants. Although these have not ruptured it appears that she now has established symptoms of breast implant illness.”
He recommended complete removal of the implants and scar tissue.
Finally convinced, this week Harris underwent explant surgery. It took five hours for the surgeon to remove the inserts and burn away every last piece of scar tissue from her muscle.
Just hours after the surgery, Harris said she felt lighter.
“I feel like I’m not walking squishing my shoulders forward … I’m grateful for every breath I take. I can take a deep breath now and I don’t feel trapped – it’s amazing.”
Harris has followed in the footsteps of other famous Kiwis to get their fake breasts removed in recent years, including Nicola Robinson Evans and Michaiah Simmons-Villari.
Both say they were suffering from breast implant illness (BII).
While some in the plastic surgery industry say there’s not enough evidence that BII is a genuine medical condition, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised in 2020 that “symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, rash, brain fog and joint pain may be associated with breast implants”.
“While the FDA doesn’t have definitive evidence demonstrating breast implants cause these symptoms, the current evidence supports that some patients experience systemic symptoms that may resolve when their breast implants are removed.”
Surgeons have also warned women may be risking their health by getting implants done cheaply in places like Thailand, increasing the risk of complications or poor quality implants being used. Harris’ surgeon in New Zealand did not believe her issues were related to the quality of surgery in Thailand.
Two days ago Harris shared her plans with her 2 million Instagram followers, saying she had gone through hell “due to a choice I made at 21 to be more ‘feminine’ “.
At the time she was an “emotionally damaged, impressionable girl”.
“I’ve been a part of a world consumed by the superficial, it will take time but I’m ready to unburden my shoulders of the weight of unending comparison and insecurities and truly fall in love with my remarkable body.”
She reminded followers to love themselves for the things that made them beautiful – “not how big your breasts are!
“Peace out toxic sacks.”
Since then about 15 women have messaged to say they’re cancelling their implant surgery – but Harris told the Herald she doesn’t think her younger self would have listened to the warning.
“It’s so easy for you to say you just need to love yourself and who you are. But at the end of the day, I can wholeheartedly say that even if you go and change – start picking at your body like I used to do – you’re never going to be happy.”
Having Williams’ support through the surgery has been hugely important.
“People are asking ‘How’s it affecting you – are you okay with her losing her boobs’,” Williams told the Herald. “For me, I just genuinely want her to be happy and healthy – that will make me happy,” he said.
“When you love someone, truly every ounce of their being, love their soul … the superficial things like their appearance and aesthetic just doesn’t become as important.”
Post source: Nzherald