A Queensland woman has spoken out after she discovered her breast implants were "slowly killing" her.
Nat Alexander, who works as a topless waitress and model, travelled from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane six years ago for breast implant surgery.
The surgery cost her $9700 and after a period of rest and recovery, she said she felt her new breasts made her "look perfect".
SOMETHING WAS WRONG
But three years later, the 26-year-old started experiencing serious symptoms that doctors couldn't diagnose, news.com.au reports.
"Everyday I woke up feeling like I had a bad hangover, with extreme fatigue, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating," Ms Alexander said in a lengthy Facebook post.
She was abruptly hospitalised when the left side of her body, including her face, went numb.
It left her partially paralysed and unable to do anything with her left hand or leg.
"I saw every expert under the sun," she said.
"Doctors, naturopaths, specialists, therapists … I had blood drawn, a spinal tap, tests ran, countless dollars spent, all to be told I was perfectly healthy."
But despite medical reassurance, Ms Alexander said she knew something was wrong.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
She developed anxiety that became so severe she said she was housebound, suffering regular panic attacks, heart palpitations and chronic headaches.
Her endless list of symptoms included "tinnitus, burning and tingling sensations in my extremities, acid reflux, muscle weaknesses and joint pain".
"I constantly experienced nausea, insomnia, an irritated bladder, vertigo, dry hair and skin, a decreased libido, memory loss, food intolerances, inflammation, swollen/tender lymph nodes, vertigo, severe hormone imbalance/mood swings and urinary tract infections," Ms Alexander said.
Several months ago, Ms Alexander read a Facebook post from a friend, who announced she had her breast implants removed after she was diagnosed with Breast Implant Illness (BII).
The waitress immediately dismissed the idea she too could be suffering from BII, telling herself "everyone was doing it, the FDA approved it, my surgeon assured me it was not only safe, but a lifetime device".
But after looking into the condition — which is not an illness officially recognised by the medical world — she began joining the dots to her own chronic sickness.
"The more I researched and uncovered, the more angry, disappointed and concerned I became," Ms Alexander said.
"I could not believe that my breast implants could cause me to be so sick … and compromise my entire immune system from my muscles, nerves to my joints."
A NEW LIFE
Ms Alexander underwent a $6000 procedure known as a capsulectomy this week to remove her implants, something she described as having the "toxic, foreign death bags removed from my body".
"As soon as I woke up and took a deep breath it felt like I hadn't been able to breathe properly in six years," Ms Alexander said.
"Let me tell you now, I feel just as confident, sexy, happy and loved today just as much as I felt yesterday."
Now, Ms Alexander's symptoms have cleared up and she is on a mission to spread awareness about the dangers of breast implants.
"My breasts may be tiny, but they are mine," she said.
"They are not slowly killing me. They are not compromising my immune system. They are not leeching silicone into my body. They are natural and healthy."
Ms Alexander said women everywhere are neglecting their health in the pursuit of perfection, and that their insecurity is what the beauty industry profits from.
"Now that we've blown up our t*ts, lips, asses, thinned our waistlines, injected every square in(ch) of our face, glued other people's hair to our heads … what's next?" she said.
"When is enough, enough?"
She said she hoped her story would serve as a warning to other women who were considering "going to extremes to change their body".
"I hope I can … prevent you from going through the agony, frustration and pain I had suffered," she said.
"I wish I loved myself more because you are good enough, just the way you are".