DAVID BLOW Special for The Post-Star
A month ago, Laurie Ross from Queensbury sat down at a picnic table and writhed in pain as she shared her story. She was constantly trying to erase the pain in her hand and neck and counting the minutes until her surgery to remove the breast implants she was certain was making her sick.
On August 26, after three years of pain and bizarre symptoms that left her frail and in almost constant pain, they were removed.
In a recent interview, just a month after the surgery, a rejuvenated and healthier Ross was in Starbucks smiling and talking about her recovery and how so many symptoms of breast implant disease disappeared almost as soon as the implants were removed.
“The incision part took longer to heal, but as far as the other things, I feel fine. I feel very light on my feet. I’m back to doing everything I used to do, like the garden work, which my husband enjoys I’m sure,” she said.
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Ross shared her story of breast implant illness in a recent Post Star Sunday edition just before the surgery to remove the implants. She detailed years of debilitating pain, brain fog, hair loss, loss of energy, and countless other symptoms that just didn’t add up.
Although the doctors were baffled, which also led to mental anguish, her own research and the help of her friend Lisa Ostrander, who also suffered from the disease, led her to conclude that this was what she had.
Saratoga plastic surgeon Jeffrey Ridha agreed and the road to recovery began with the August 26 operation.
Ross on Sept. 28 said she no longer felt like she was “burning inside.” Her hair is recovering, the pain in her neck and hands is gone, the ringing in her ears is gone and her energy levels are back, enabling her to return to serving at O’Toole’s restaurant in Queensbury where she has been serving customers for 11 year.
“One of the first things I noticed was I felt the oils coming back into my skin,” she said. “And my hair was so dry and brittle and it’s coming back.”
Ross’s husband, Erik, said he noticed many changes in his wife since the operation, including having a lot more energy.
“I can tell she feels better just by the way she carries herself,” he said. “His body doesn’t hurt like it used to.”
Some problems remain
But both acknowledged that the recovery has not been perfect. A day after the September 28 interview, she was battling a painful two-day flare-up a week ago. She said the pain that started in her right breast and spread to her arm was unbearable, but the mental pain could have been worse.
“You have no idea,” she said Thursday. “I collapsed and couldn’t control my emotions.”
Ostrander, she said, told her she had suffered similar flare-ups for about six months before she stopped, and research from support groups suggests they are quite common, she said. she declared.
But despite the only surge, Ross said a week later she felt so much better than the days before the explant surgery.
“I feel fabulous right now,” she said Thursday. “And my doctor said everything looked fine.”
Although she realizes telling her story might lead some to judge her decision to get implanted in the first place, she said the reactions have been nothing but positive – including countless O’Toole clients. who constantly ask how she is.
She also heard of people who think they or a loved one might be struggling with a breast implant-related illness and were seeking advice, which she hoped.
“I don’t want a woman to suffer as long as we do,” she said, referring to herself and Ostrander, who dealt with symptoms for six years before her surgery to remove her implants.
Erik Ross was also keen to say how grateful he is for all the support from those concerned about his wife, saying he has received well wishes from people, many of whom he barely knows.
“The outpouring of support has been incredible and I know it has helped her,” he said.
More research needed
Although the FDA does not officially recognize breast implant disease, it recently released a report offering data on nearly 7,500 implant recipients from 2008 to 2022.
Of the 7,467 women in the report, 2,972 said they had the implants removed, and follow-up data on 657 women who had the implants removed showed that 577 women reported improved health, 80 of them n reported no change or worsening of symptoms.
Dr. Jeffrey Ridha, the Saratoga plastic surgeon who performed the explantation surgery on Ross and saw her for a physical on Wednesday, said he was impressed with her progress.
“She just seemed a lot more vibrant,” Ridha said, adding that he also noticed a change in her hair color and skin tone.
Ridha, who has only performed three explant surgeries, said more studies need to be done on the condition. He said that while he wasn’t sure if the implants were the root of all his health issues, “I certainly think that based on all of his work and all of his experiences, his implants were contributing to his ongoing symptoms.”
“I’m just really happy that our decision to remove them is showing some really promising initial results,” he said.
Prior to the operation to remove them, Ross was struggling with his decision to get the implants in the first place. She said she had breastfed two children at the time and was unhappy with her appearance. She said she wished she had done more research at the time.
Now – a decade later – she’s so happy they’re out.
“Every day now I am grateful for my body and I will never do anything horrible to my body again,” she said.
David Blow is a professor of media and communication at Castleton University and a freelance journalist who lives in Queensbury. He can be contacted at [email protected]