Burning Man yoga photo by Alex Bosco

This morning I woke up in a funk. The “I don’t want to get up like ever…let’s just pull the covers overhead and be grouchy” kind of funk. It was not pretty. After 6 weeks of prescribed inactivity, this normally quite active yogi had ventured over to the dark side. We all have some dark moments, and I think it’s important to acknowledge it from time to time in between my usual sunshiny (and I’m sure quite annoying) rays of positivity and productivity. So I lay there in bed, 6 days away from my 40th birthday, and have a mini meltdown AKA tantrum AKA pity party in the arms of my ever-supportive partner Jordan, who had literally just woken up.

Me: “I’m suppose to be writing my story, and it just keeps coming out so serious and clinical and blah! Why can’t I write what I feel?”

Jordan: (hugs me close and patiently replies) “Well, how DO you feel?”

Me: “I don’t know…” (more tears)

Amidst the toddler tantrum I take a big breath and spit out a giant rambling run on sentence.

Me: “These surgeries have been so hard to process. Putting it into words feels overwhelming and impossible but I am SO happy that I took the breast implants out, and I just want people to know, and I want them to be inspired to love themselves and not put that shit in their bodies or if they have them I want them to feel supported and educated to take them out!” (Followed by a deep breath and snot bubble)

Jordan: “Okay well then you should write about that.”

So here goes.

In the late 90’s I had a boob job. The clinical term being “breast augmentation with subglandular saline implants.” In that era the procedure was commonly referred to as a Baywatch Babe Pamela Anderson boob job. I was 23 years old. The now (almost) 40 year-old me thinks: “What the fuck?!” I was young, athletic, and a total natural vibes girl. I rocked Chapstick on my lips to prom and rarely felt the need to brush my hair. How had my self-esteem gotten to the point that I needed to cut my body open and insert foreign objects to “fix” me?

As a new mom and new yogi, many things were beginning to shift. Yogic teachings of authenticity and contentment was a concept that I was just beginning to explore, intermixed with lots of “arm toning” chaturangas. I had been practicing yoga for about a year, so still very early along on my path, and working through the external and aesthetic aspects that draw in most yogis of the West. And with that territory comes the “quick fix” mentality. My body had shifted after the birth of my first child, and so had my mindset. The influence of postnatal hormones, attempting to navigate a marriage built on a precarious foundation, and the constant media barrage of Photoshop and enhancements had this 23-year-old feeling increasingly insecure and eager to please. So I gave in to the pressures of perfection and ended up in the plastic surgeon’s office.

The toxic “fun bags” saline filled implants with silicone exterior.

As all plastic surgeons do, he convinced me that implants are totally safe and breezed through a list of possible side effects with the reassurance that anything going wrong was incredibly rare, therefore nothing to worry about. Everything that he explained to me were LIES. Back then I did not have the resources available to dive deep and research his claims (my AOL dial up skills produced minimal information via the world wide web), so I trusted the doctor…because that’s what you did without the Internet.

This is what your surgeon won’t tell you may happen (Bruning):

  • tenderness, lumpiness, or discomfort around the implants
  • change in the shape of your breast(s)
  • change in the consistency of your breast, such as increased softness
  • change in the way your breast moves – all of these symptoms may be a sign your implant has ruptured.
  • hardening of breast tissue
  • muscle pain
  • pain and swelling of the joints
  • pain in the soft tissues
  • a burning sensation of pain
  • tightness, redness, or swelling of the skin
  • swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • unusual, extreme, or unexplained fatigue
  • swelling of the hands and feet
  • unusual hair loss
  • rashes
  • skin thickening or hardening
  • dry eyes, mouth, or vagina
  • loss of memory, mental confusion, or ‘fogginess’
  • autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, multiple chemical sensitivity disorder, cancer, and biotoxicity problems.

The list goes on…

I was young and naïve. I didn’t have a wise and supportive parent or mentor encouraging me to wait it out and give the hormones time to subside, or to make sure this Pandora’s box of breast implants was actually for me and not an attempt to fix a fractured relationship. Over the next few years I experienced a second surgery, a lot of love, and a lot of loss. I grew exponentially in confidence, which my surgeons would have egotistically paid credit to the “fabulous enhanced breasts.” I attribute my growth wholly to an ever-expanding yoga practice. I had fallen in love with yogic principles and its teachings. I actively applied them to my own path and guided others as well.

Pre-Op betadine scrub down to minimize the chance of infection.

For over 17 years there were foreign objects in my body, and it was time to take them out. But explant surgery is scary and comes with risks, so why do it? I wake up every day wondering if these implants will trigger the autoimmune disease in me that is so prevalent in our family. I look at my babies and want them to love their bodies because mom walks the talk and inspires them to say fuck off to distorted media and shitty relationships. I have the unwavering support of an amazing partner who loves me for me…and will stop me from doing any handstands before the post-op clearance.

I am so grateful to have an amazing support system of family, friends, and yogis during this booby adventure. And my kids are grateful to have some entertaining stories and video of loopy mom on anesthesia. Most days are bright, but I will allow myself some dark. There have been some tough lessons learned, things I’m still processing and working to be thankful for. But time heals and I am reaching out to the world in hopes that my journey resonates with you, or maybe your friend, sister, wife, or mom. If any of these amazingly beautiful women are considering implant or explant please send them my way. For all of the souls in your social media feed that struggle with body image, please share. Let’s build a community of magical yogi vibes with healing, support, and love!

Postoperative compression and drainage tube

Just like this story (which as you recall, I was so frazzled to write), my life, my yoga practice, my teachings, and this body, are perfectly imperfect. And that’s just fine by me. The next few months of recovery is a brand new chapter; one layered with challenging complications, and one that I’m still eager (yet apprehensive) to share with you. Probably after a couple of early morning tantrums, I will write about my explant journey, the rediscovery of yoga post-op, and how all of this has greatly influenced my work and passions. I have so much more to say, and just have to find the words. Until then…





Breast Implants: Everything You Need to Know by Nancy Bruning

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