What is Breast Implant Illness? How NASCAR icon Danica Patrick overcame her trials to emerge triumphant

What is Breast Implant Illness? How NASCAR icon Danica Patrick overcame her trials to emerge triumphant
Danica Patrick finally got the implants removed (Robert Laberge/Getty Images & [email protected])

BELOIT, WISCONSIN: Former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick is candidly speaking out on the condition known as Breast Implant Illness (BII), which she says is extremely real but little understood. On Wednesday's episode of The HypochondriActor, a podcast devoted to medical stories and medical advice, the 40-year-old, who shot to fame first as an IndyCar driver before shifting to NASCAR, opened up about her harrowing five-year battle with BII in an effort to spread awareness about the illness.

Patrick started her racing career in 2005 and competed in the IndyCar Series for seven seasons before setting a record for the greatest finish by a woman in the illustrious Indianapolis 500 by finishing third. She competed in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2012 and took home the pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500, another impressive race in North America. 

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In her desire to achieve ‘an ideal body,’ the former NASCAR driver decided to receive breast implants in November 2014. Despite believing she had "the total package" at age 32, during her second full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, the professional racer said that in 2017 she started experiencing unexplained symptoms.

"It was just a spiral," Patrick told hosts Dr Priyanka Wali and Sean Hayes. "Everything seemed fine the first couple of years and then I would say that the issues …crept in at about mainly in three years later. Over those next four years…issues continued to compound. Mine were very physical manifestations."

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Patrick's physical problems persisted. She was plagued by hair loss, weight gain, weariness, low hormones, and elevated mercury levels. Patrick stated that one of her breast implants quickly became extremely firm, the other followed soon. According to BreastCancer.org, a capsular contracture — a capsule of hardened scar tissue that contracts around the implant — was to blame.

Patrick had her breast implants surgically removed earlier this year. Stating that she "felt so much better" without the implants and many of her inexplicable symptoms improved, despite the fact that she is still ‘suffering with heavy metal toxicity.’ She also acknowledges that there are some things she wishes she had known in her twenties, as it could have prevented her from getting breast implants in the first place.

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"This is a journey I felt compelled to share," Patrick said in a YouTube video posted in May. " If you are struggling and you have implants and you can't fix it, there can be something wrong with them. They could be making you sick. I think it's an important message for people to know because I tried so hard and tried many things."

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