Plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit warns of link between breast implants and chronic illness

Medical community slow to recognize breast implant illness

A plastic surgeon in metro Detroit has a warning about breast implants that she wants women to hear.

A plastic surgeon in metro Detroit has a warning about breast implants that she wants women to hear.

Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally adopted a policy on breast implants that many women have been demanding. Women wanting implants now have to be warned about the possibility of Breast Implant Illness (BII). The medical community was slow to recognize BII.

Dr. Amy Derosa has probably removed twice as many breast implants as she’s put in. Breast implants are an extremely popular elective surgery. More than 90% of women who get implants say they’ve met or exceeded their expectations.

Read more: Devin Scillian: How a friend’s story inspired focus on breast implant illness

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

Two years ago Local 4′s Devin Scillian sat down with a group of women at the home of former Local 4 traffic reporter Tracy Gary. They had all been through severe health crises that couldn’t be explained. They dealt with hair loss, fatigue, muscle aches, brain fog and depression.

For those women, everything changed when they had their breast implants removed, despite the fact that for so long the medical community insisted breast implant illness was not a thing. All the women said they got their lives back when the implants were removed.

Read: Former Local 4 reporter says breast implants caused years of chronic fatigue, depression, hair loss

It was six or seven years ago a woman came to Derosa with the same set of varied, intensive symptoms. Derosa wasn’t sure there was a connection between the symptoms and implants either until she took them out.

“That first patient we took her to surgery, we did our procedure, including removing capsules, of course, and her symptoms started going away right before my eyes as I was seeing her in the post-op period,” Derosa said.

It kept happening. Derosa developed a reputation. Sure, any doctor can remove breast implants but Derosa was among those who insist on a more complicated procedure to remove not just the implant, but the capsule that develops around it.

“A lot of patients presented to the office and they have this guilt in themselves and, ‘I made a bad decisions. What was I thinking? Why did I do this to myself?’ And I would say to them, ‘I did it as well.’”

Derosa felt the symptoms her patients were describing were hitting closer to home.

“I started relating more and more to them as far as some other symptoms would go and it was this common relating to them that made me realize that, you know, I feel like I potentially might be experiencing them as well,” Derosa said.

Derosa had her implants removed and she too got her life back.

“I decided ethically, after treating so many of these patients and seeing the outcomes and improvement that I ethically didn’t feel comfortable in doing cosmetic augmentations,” Derosa said.

Breast implants are a very popular and very profitable procedure. Derosa said it was too ethically incongruous to remove implants in one operating room only to walk into another and put a set in.

“‘Thank you so much, you’ve given me my life back.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it and it’s the most wonderful thing to hear,” Derosa said. “I get lots of hugs and it’s always fun at the very end.”

Derosa doesn’t believe implants should be done away with. She does believe in full disclosure warnings, but more than that she and a number of other plastic surgeons from around the country are working toward developing tests that might indicate which women might be at risk for BII.

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

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.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.