Auckland woman's painful lesson about the dangers of breast implants

An Auckland woman who believes she suffered from breast implant illness wants others to know the dangers of getting breast implants. 

Thousands of women claim to have suffered from the illness, but surgeons say it hasn't been proven. 

When Rachel Macdonald had breast implants 21 years ago, she thought it would boost her confidence, but the outcome was very different. After an accident, her serious health problems began. 

"Overnight my eyesight went and I would look at the billboards across the street and couldn't read them - massive billboards and they were fuzzy," Mrs Macdonald told Newshub. 

"The next time I fell over was September last year and I landed on my boobs and on my face.

"Overnight I just started getting sicker and sicker and sicker."

Mrs Macdonald couldn't understand what was going on in her body, but later came across online support groups with thousands of women in similar situations. She became convinced she had what's been called breast implant illness. 

The women in the group believe there are at least 40 symptoms associated with the illness - which Mrs Macdonald has listed on her fundraising page. Things like chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, sensitivity to light and sound - all of which Mrs Macdonald says she suffered from. 

Medical professionals say they've been aware of these complaints but have found no evidence to support them.

"All of the scientific research that's gone into that in during 30 years has failed to prove that there is an association between those [symptoms]," said John Kenealy, president of the New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons. 

"Women with implants will get those symptoms but women without will get those symptoms," he said. 

But Mrs Macdonald is convinced the implants caused her illnesses, because as soon as they were removed, she said she felt better. 

After her operation to remove the implants, doctors told her they'd found an infection and one implant was leaking. 

Whether she had breast implant illness or not, Mrs Macdonald says she wishes she had never had them in the first place. 

"If I could go back to my 26-year-old self and tell her these things I would say don't do it. 

"It's not worth it."