RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A Raleigh woman is speaking out about the plastic surgery that she says made her sick and she's not alone. Many other women are making the same claims.
The Federal Drug Administration is now saying patients must be warned of breast implant risks.
"From the minute they were put in, my body started rejecting them," said Stacey Jones.
She had the implants put in 16 years ago. Shortly after the surgery, she noticed changes in her mood.
"I started becoming sad and depressed and anxious. I just listened to the doctors and they're like, 'it's anxiety and depression' and I'm like, 'OK, I'll take a happy pill," Jones said.
However, through the years there were more changes.
"My brain fog was so bad," she said.
Then she started feeling aches and pains and was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease, an autoimmune disorder. She was medicated for that but she says it didn't help.
Three years ago she had her first hospitalization.
"Every lab test was normal, everything was normal," Jones said.
Her tests were normal but Jones, a nurse for 26 years, says she continued to feel worse and started her own research.
That's when she discovered for the first time what's known as Breast Implant Illness (BII), a term some women and doctors use to refer to a wide range of symptoms that can develop after getting implants.
"I asked a primary physician and he said breast implant illness isn't real, and I let it go," she said.
But she couldn't let it go.
"I felt this horrible chest tightness and I'm like, 'I can't breathe,'" Jones said. She was hospitalized again.
"I left the heart hospital with three new cardiac meds, and I asked the doctor, as a nurse, I'm like, 'why are you putting me on three heart medications when there's nothing wrong with my heart.'"
Jones said she continued to get worse. Wanting answers, she went to a functional medicine doctor.
"He took one look at me and he said, 'you're being poisoned.' He's like, 'you are in bad shape, you need to get them out ASAP,'" she said.
Jones paid thousands of dollars to have a plastic surgeon take out her implants.
"The minute my implants were removed, and I woke up, I was able to take a full breath, for the first time in two months," she said.
From there, Jones says her health quickly improved. Weeks after surgery she was off all of her medication.
"I did not have an autoimmune disorder. It's been my breast implants the whole time," Jones said.
But how common is Breast Implant Illness? Dr. Joseph Franklin, a board-certified plastic surgeon of Franklin Plastic Surgery in Cary, says it's very rare.
"Breast implant illness is a complicated disease process because we can't prove it," he said. "So many women present with complaints of general malaise, just not feeling well, joint aches, and pains. And a lot of other just kind of symptomatic complaints that are hard to diagnose."
With symptoms being so vague, Dr. Franklin says it's often a diagnosis of exclusion.
"All implants end up with a capsule around them, and that's completely normal. What happens, no one is completely sure, but the thought the implant plus the capsule is what's causing the problem," he said.
He says most women who get breast implants don't have problems.
"The best analogy to use is with every medical device, every medical procedure, everything we do pharmaceutically there can be a side effect. For most people, they're completely safe. But if you're one of the few women who end up having some weird symptoms, it's probably worth looking into it."
Just last week, the FDA said any woman considering breast implants must be warned of the risks and side effects and ordered manufacturers to include a black box warning.
Jones is thankful the FDA took this step, and her main mission now that she feels like herself again is to raise awareness about BII.
"I loved my breast implants. I did. I loved them and if they weren't killing me, I would have loved them for the rest of my life. Not everyone is going to have symptoms of breast implant illness," she said. "If you have breast implants and are feeling great, don't even bother, but if you start having fatigue, brain fog, joint pain before you get diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and be put on those medications that are toxic to you, if you don't have an autoimmune disease, please do your research."
Jones helped co-author a book where she shares her experience with BBI. It's called Intuitive: Speaking Her Truth.
The FDA also points out that breast implants are not considered lifetime devices, so the longer women have them, the greater the chance they could develop complications.