Former Local 4 reporter works to shed light on breast implant illness

Tracy Gary shares story of how breast implants were making her sick

A former WDIV reporter is working to shed light on 'breast implant illness.'

DETROIT – A former Local 4 News reporter is sharing the story of how her breast implants made her chronically ill and how she fought to get to her doctors to realize what was happening.

Tracy Gary said her breast implants were making her sick, and when she shared her story, others began coming forward to say they suffered from the same problem. Now, she’s helping to legitimize something doctors once refused to recognize.

Local 4 sat down with Tracy about a year and a half ago. It had been a month since her breast implants were removed, and she said for the first time in many years, she was happy to be alive. Her story is part of the fight to recognize breast implant illness.

“I couldn’t get out of bed,” Tracy said. “The depression’s gone. I had suicidal depression so bad. That is all gone.”

None of her symptoms -- hair loss, fatigue, muscle pain and crushing depression -- would seem to have anything to do with breast implants, experts said.

Laura Bowden didn’t know it, but she had been through the same thing in Chicago.

“Every doctor -- it’s literally like deja vu listening to their stories,” Bowden said.

It was the same for Latasha Marzolla, also from Chicago. She’s a mixed martial arts fighter, but her implants knocked her out of the ring.

“So I got them,” Marzolla said. “I had three MMA fights and I haven’t fought again. I got deathly ill right after I got them.”

In Tracy’s own neighborhood in Marshall, Michigan, Annette Baker was lost in a maze of miseries.

“Nobody can diagnose me and we’re all thought to be kind of crazy,” Baker said. “Everything’s in your head because your labs are all negative, at least mine were.”

With their matching “The Heal Is Real” bracelets, the women are now a tight-knit platoon of a growing army -- women who have had their breast implants removed and, in the process, gotten their lives back.

The women said they found each other online, took their stories to Washington to testify before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and tried to convince the medical world that breast implant illness isn’t in their heads.

“What I’m seeing after really looking deeply into the medical research and the literature behind it is that I believe breast implant illness is real,” plastic surgeon Anthony Youn said.

When Local 4 spoke with Youn a year and a half ago, he wasn’t sure the evidence supported the existence of breast implant illness. Now he warns patients about the possibility of a bad reaction to implants.

He said it’s the most popular elective surgery in the country and a profit center for many doctors, so a lot of them don’t want to buy it.

“Thousands of plastic surgeons get together every year at these meetings, and I tell you, five years ago if they would have brought this subject of breast implant illness, it would have been met with scoffs," Youn said. “It wouldn’t even have made it to the podium or one of the sessions. Now, it’s a big deal.”

But last month, the FDA agreed with the women and urged plastic surgeons to warn their patients about BII. But these women aren’t takeng a victory lap just yet.

“I seel feel like we’re banging our head,” Bowden said. “We have so far to go.”

“Oh, we do,” Baker said.

“I haven’t seen anything,” Bowden said.

“Plus, the doctors need to be educated on taking that capsule out,” Tracy said.

That remains a controversial point. It’s a fairly simple procedure to remove implants, but many BII victims believe it’s critical to also remove the capsule that the body creates around implants. Demanding full capsule removal is the next battle for the women.

“I’m happy,” Marzolla said. “I can take care of my kids. I have my health back. My future looks bright, and before, I might have looked a certain way for others, but it just ruined my life. It’s not worth it.”

You can watch Devin Scillian’s full story in the video posted at the top of the page.

Watch below: The full discussion with the women about their breast implant experiences.

About the Authors:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.