In October 2011, at the age of 22, Sia Cooper (a.k.a. Diary of a Fit Mommy) made a not-so-uncommon decision about her body - she got breast implants. After losing breast tissue following a 45-pound weight loss, the fitness trainer and now mother-of-two decided to get a breast augmentation in order to feel more feminine and to please her then-husband who believed the implants would spice up their love life.

Immediately after her surgery, Sia felt a weight on her chest and had trouble breathing. There was discomfort that continued for over a month afterwards, but the look of her new breasts was enough to make her feel the pain was worth it. But the problems didn’t stop there. As the months and years went on, Sia’s health began to decline. Roughly 1-2 years after getting implants, she began to feel extremely fatigued, started losing her hair, and was experiencing frequent headaches. However, since this was all occurring soon after Sia had given birth to her first child and she was diagnosed with postpartum depression, she chalked up all of these symptoms to being a new mother.

Flash forward to seven years post-op, and Sia was experiencing a multitude of negative symptoms, including anxiety and depression, brain fog, dizziness, blurry vision, joint pain, muscle weakness, poor memory, weight gain, puffy face, acne breakouts, hand tremors, and chronic colds and sinus infections. Her fatigue was so intense that she was no longer able to exercise and was bedridden for most of the day. But despite numerous tests, no doctor could figure out what was wrong with Sia.

“I was getting my blood drawn every month, desperate at attempts to find a diagnosis [or] some answer, but my doctors said no, you’re completely healthy, there’s nothing really wrong and there’s no reason you should be feeling this way,” Cooper recalls. “With each year that passed, I noticed myself just feeling much older than I [was]. I was moving slower, my mind wasn’t as sharp, I was tired all the time, and it finally took almost seven years of having implants for me to just say enough is enough.”

This meant taking matters into her own hands and deciding to do her own research. After posting on Instagram about how her depression and anxiety had worsened since getting implants, some of her followers began commenting, asking if she had heard about breast implant illness (BII), a term used by women to describe a series of symptoms that stem from ruptured breast implants or an allergy to the product. Her followers recommended she check out a Facebook support group called Healing Breast Implant Illness by Nicole. There, Sia found numerous stories from women experiencing the same things she was going through. It was then she finally decided to remove her implants.

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“It was just the last resort. I was fine with the way [the implants] looked… but I was to the point where I was so desperate to regain my health that I would do anything, and that included removing them.”

So, in December 2018, Sia underwent breast explant surgery. Just one day later, she noticed she could breathe more deeply, she felt lighter, and she had less inflammation all over her body. Within a month, she was down 10 pounds, something she says was interesting, since prior to surgery she was steadily gaining weight while doing nothing differently. She was able to start doing light workouts, and by three months post-op, she was able to use her chest again and did her first push-up in years. And now, four months later, Sia feels better than ever.

“I can breathe better, I seem to be gaining my strength back, my energy is a lot higher than it’s been in a couple of years, and my neck and back pain has decreased tremendously which makes sense because each implant weighs one pound, [meaning there was] two pounds of extra weight that was sitting on my chest,” she says.

And while Sia initially got breast implants to feel more confident and feminine, she now feels more feminine than ever without them. 

“I thought I would cry the first time I unwrapped my chest a couple of days after surgery, but I didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised,” she says. “There’s something about being natural again… there’s a peace to it. I feel like the first thing that people notice about me aren’t my breasts. It’s nice to be a more toned-down version of myself.”

Sia says she felt a responsibility to be open about her breast explant surgery with her followers because it’s something that is not usually talked about.

“It’s something that could be affecting other women and I don’t want them to waste the time going around in circles chasing a diagnosis that doesn’t exist or trying to find answers,” she says. “Looking back, if my followers hadn’t told me about BII, I probably wouldn’t have believed it and to be honest, when I first heard about it, I kind of shunned the idea because the FDA and doctors say [breast implants are] safe, so [they’ve] got to be safe, right?”

And while she isn’t necessarily against plastic surgery, she does stress the importance of doing sufficient research before undergoing any cosmetic operation.

“It’s your body, you can do whatever you want to do. I just want you to do your research, especially when it comes to getting implants. Know the ingredients, know the procedures, know the risks. That’s something I failed to do seven years ago.”