LIFESTYLE

Woman Reveals Mouldy Breast Implant Made Her So Sick She Thought She Was Going To Die

03/12/2015 11:39 GMT | Updated 03/12/2015 11:59 GMT

A woman who lived with mouldy breast implants for a number years has spoken out about how they made her so ill she thought she was going to die.

Anne Ziegenhorn, 44, from Florida, claims she was misdiagnosed with lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems after she started to lose her sight and gain weight.

It was only years later, after she spoke to an implant specialist, that she realised her saline breast implants were making her very sick.


The mum-of-two says she first had saline implants fitted in 1998, an upgrade to the silicone implants she'd previously had.

Six months later, she began to experience health problems and her son, who she was breastfeeding at the time, was taken ill with a serious kidney infection.

"My breastfeeding caused my kids to be ill," she told the Mail Online. "My son, at 19 months old, had a severe kidney infection. He almost died."

Doctors believe the mould started to grow on the implants in 2002, however Ziegenhorn is convinced that it began even earlier than that.

In 2001, Ziegenhorn began to gain weight and was having problems with her sight. She also suffered from short-term memory loss - which she thought might be early onset Alzheimer's - and a burning sensation in her breast.

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Over time, her body became covered in sores, she felt incredibly tired and, at her worst, she couldn't even speak properly because it hurt too much.

During the course of two years she visited 23 different doctors who diagnosed her with differing ailments. But nothing seemed to get to the root of the problem.

"I felt like that was it, I was gonna die, and the doctors were gonna let me die," she told ABC13.

It was only after Ziegenhorn spotted that one of her breasts had changed shape, that doctors discovered the real reason for her deteriorating health.

Following another mammogram, technicians confirmed her right breast had ruptured, and, according to the mum-of-two, told her that they'd spotted a leak two years ago.

Furious that she hadn't been told this before, Ziegenhorn went home and conducted her own research. Before long she had stumbled across a breast implant specialist called Dr Susan Kolb who had spoken about a similar problem.

mouldy breast implant

The mouldy breast implant which was removed from Ziegenhorn's breast

Ziegenhorn emailed Dr Kolb with her mammogram results and the doctor replied and told her that she had a mould and bacteria infection on her left implant, and advised her to take antibiotics.

Months later, Ziegenhorn had surgery to remove the ruptured right implant, which was causing silicone sickness, as well as the mouldy left implant, which was causing a number of other health issues.

She has now joined a support group for women who have suffered from silicone sickness due to defective breast implants and hopes to raise awareness of the health issue.

Douglas McGeorge is a consultant plastic surgeon and former president of the The British Association Of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). He told HuffPost UK Lifestyle that mould is only a potential problem for saline filled implants, "where the mould cultures within the saline".

But Dr Susan Kolb believes there are dangers associated with all breast implants.

She told ABC 13: "My experience in doing this for 30 years is that eventually everybody will become ill from their breast implants, unless they die sooner from something else."