A Melbourne woman has issued a stark warning after becoming extremely ill because of her breast implants.
Pascale Garlinge decided to undergo a mastectomy after she had children as her mum and grandmother had died from breast cancer.
"I just never wanted that for my daughters. That’s the main reason I chose to do this because I just could not put them through that legacy of pain which still carries on in my family today."
After her mastectomy, Garlinge was eligible for breast implants and, while she was made aware of some of the associated risks, she was told overall they were a safe option.
But after her surgery, she had to have her gallbladder removed and it all went downhill from there, she told 7 News Australia.
Garlinge started losing her hair, had trouble swallowing, and experienced extreme pain from her elbows to her hands.
"By the end, I could hardly lift my head off the bed, it was a struggle every day," she said.
The 42-year-old saw multiple neurologists and underwent blood tests, which always came back as normal.
She was told her symptoms were largely in her head and her body's reaction was normal.
"I wasn’t normal, I was falling apart. I was nearly dying."
Garlinge made the decision to get her implants removed and warned people who are thinking about getting them to do their research.
"It’s really important to check the credentials of the surgeon before undergoing implant surgery, they should always be a (fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons)," she told 7 News.
"It is definitely not in your head... and don’t let anybody tell you that."
At the time, Garlinge had never heard of breast implant illness until she read some information from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the possible side effects of getting implants.
She said she finally understood what was happening to her when she found a Facebook group of 100,00 other women, all detailing symptoms similar to hers.
"In a few minutes I found out what I had," she told 7 News Australia.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons president Nicola Dean told the outlet that breast implant illness is a "poorly understood condition" and very difficult to diagnose.
"I think it's a very real phenomenon that women get these symptoms of chronic fatigue, headaches and problems with concentration and muscle aches," she said.
"For those individual women, it’s incredibly distressing and disabling."
While official numbers are yet to be established, Dean estimated roughly 1 percent of women with implants could suffer from the condition.