Dec 06, 2015
A 44-year-old woman from Florida claims that she nearly lost her life after one of her breast implants became mouldy.
The Daily Mail reported that Anne Ziegenhorn, who had saline breast implants, started to feel unwell in 2011.
Over the next two years, she suffered debilitating symptoms such as blurred vision, lethargy, unexplained weight gain of 27kg and sores all over her body.
She also felt pain in her right breast which was changing in size. Close to 20 doctors whom she had consulted were baffled by her symptoms, because her MRI brain scans and mammography images appeared normal.
That led her to be misdiagnosed with medical conditions such as lupus (autoimmune disease), arthritis (joint inflammation), and thyroid problems.
It was only after she reached out to breast implant specialist Dr Susan Kolb that she confirmed her suspicion that a mouldy breast implant had caused her health problems.
According to Ms Ziegenhorn, Dr Kolb looked at the mammograms she sent over and replied: "I have never seen mammograms like this before. You have mould and bacterial infection. You need to be on antibiotics.
"Documenting her harrowing experience in a personal blog titled 'The Implant Truth', the American posted photos of her mammograms and contaminated implant which was removed in late 2013.
Photos show dark green mould covering the surface of extracted breast implant's silicone outer shell. She added that the fungi continued to grow even after she stored the implant in the refrigerator.
Ms Ziegenhorn also became enraged after she found out that technicians had detected a leak from the ruptured implant in her right breast during a mammography session in 2011, but did not inform her until she went for another one in 2013.
In a video clip posted on Youtube, Dr Kolb, who practises in a plastic surgery clinic in Atlanta, explained the problems and possible dangers of saline breast implants.
She highlighted the risks of infection when defective valves cause a slight leakage of saline, especially if the woman lives in a mouldy environment.
The fungi growing in or around the implant can produce biotoxins which can cause neurological problems.
Other possible symptoms include muscle twitches, burning pain in the chest wall, and fatigue. Patients may also suffer from weakened immune systems that leave them susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.
Several plastic reconstructive reports published on the US National Library of Medicine have also shown that fungi in the human body may be able to survive and infect saline-filled implants. In addition, Ms Ziegenhorn believes that the infection had caused her son, now 12, to become severely ill when she breastfed him as a toddler.
"My son, at 19 months old, had a severe kidney infection. He almost died," the mother-of-two told The Daily Mail.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 20 per cent of women who received breast implants had them removed within the next eight to 10 years due to the development of complications.
In a 13 Wham News report, Dr Kolb advised patients to replace their breast implants every eight to 15 years, and concluded: "My experience in doing this for thirty years is that eventually everybody will become ill from their breast implants, unless they die sooner from something else."
Meanwhile, Ms Ziegenhorn recently set up a fundraising page called The Implant Truth Survivors (TITS) to help women pay for proper breast implant removal surgery, as well as to fund a documentary to increase public awareness of the potential dangers of silicone and saline breast implants.
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