Karissa Pukas sits, tired and ready for removal of her implants, during a consultation with her doctor regarding the explant surgery. (Photo contributed)

Karissa Pukas sits, tired and ready for removal of her implants, during a consultation with her doctor regarding the explant surgery. (Photo contributed)

B.C. YouTube sensation removes breast implants after years of illness

Former Shuswap resident Karissa Pukas wants women to be informed about breast implants.

When Salmon Arm’s Karissa Pukas decided to get breast implants in 2013, she had no inkling of what horrors the next five years would hold.

At 22, her thought was that bigger breasts would improve her looks – give her more confidence.

At 28, her recent experience has changed that view: “From no boobs, to big boobs, to no boobs. You think you will wear different clothes… I think everyone has a notion the grass is always greener. There are great things about small boobs, great things about big boobs. The biggest thing is about being happy about how you naturally are.”

In 2013, Pukas was already an Internet sensation, with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in to her YouTube channel, following her on Facebook and on Instagram.

Her fame had begun simply enough.

Living in Vancouver and taking a fashion merchandising program at the Blanche MacDonald Centre, she decided she wanted to meet people. And meet people she did. She began making fashion videos and soon expanded into makeup. But it was her style – engaging, unpretentious, unassuming, that seemed to draw followers.

“I think it’s a combination of right time, right kind of things needed and being approachable,” she said in a 2015 interview with the Observer. “I think a lot of women doing what I do come across a little bit robotic or too proper… I am unapologetically myself.”

Related: Pukas an Internet sensation

When her lease on her apartment ran out, she moved to Australia, a place she’d always dreamed of living, to be with her boyfriend who she’d met when they both worked at Silver Star Mountain. Life was good.

Pukas did her research before committing to surgery. Silicone had been discontinued for implants in the ’90s due to problems, and now ‘gummies’ or ‘gummy bear’ implants, textured rather than smooth, were said to be a good choice.

The surgery went well and she was pleased with her decision, despite having back pain as her body adjusted to its new proportions.

But about six months after the operation, she began feeling fatigued constantly.

Then came anxiety. Depression.

She delved into her life, trying to understand why the changes. A doctor said ‘stress,’ but she couldn’t see how her life was any more stressful than it had been a year earlier. Not to mention, health and fitness had always been a top priority for her. She stayed fit, ate well.

Then she developed “nasty body odor. A metallic, acidic stink, predominantly on the left side.”

Even after a shower where she would scrub and scrub, she would come out and her boyfriend would notice that she would still “stink.”

She developed night sweats, where she would wake up drenched and shivering.

She went to a naturopath, but symptoms continued.

In 2016 she returned to Canada and things continued to get worse. She began suffering from chronic joint pain.

“My hip would wake me up – that’s not normal for a 26-year-old.”

Then came problems with food intolerance, recurring diarrhea, daily. She began having menstrual periods multiple times per month. She had adult acne, heart palpitations, strange-smelling urine, brain fog and trouble concentrating.

Pukas saw several doctors and was given several tests. She was dismissed, told there was nothing wrong with her. She was never asked if she had a foreign object in her body, nor did she make the connection.

“I think the biggest frustration for me, it was almost likened to me being a hypochondriac. I knew this was not right, it was not how I should be feeling.”

Still, she managed to maintain her presence online. Although she no longer wanted to go out of her house because of all her health problems, she kept up her Youtube channel. She would try to carry on as usual, but sometimes she was brutally honest. In response to a video talking about all her digestion problems, a couple of followers mentioned breast implant disease.

Pukas didn’t pay much attention, at least not at first.

“Honestly, when I first heard that, I almost got offended. How would it be my implants?”

Although reluctant to consider the implants, the similarities with what other women were saying on the Internet was uncanny.

“It was absolutely unbelievable, … word for word.”

She eventually arrived at the decision to have her implants removed, and chose a California plastic surgeon, Dr. H. Jae Chun, who was recommended.

In September of this year, in a video in which Chun provides testimony to the FDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, he explains he has been focused solely on breast explants over the past three years. He said the women who come to him, who have saline or silicone implants, usually have neurological or connective tissue disorder symptoms.

Such symptoms are well-documented in implant manufacturers’ own documentation and brochures, yet “these women are routinely told there’s nothing wrong with them, they’re perfectly fine and healthy, it’s all in their minds…,” he said. “They’re often told breast implants are the most studied medical device ever and they have been definitely proven to be perfectly safe.”

That view has been expressed by various manufacturers, Chun said, so it disseminates down to plastic surgeons and other specialists and primary care physicians. He notes that the incidence of problems reported in core studies range anywhere from 1.4 to two per cent. However, manufacturers have offered a rebuttal, stating a panel of expert scientists has found the evidence linking neurological diseases to breast implants is insufficient or flawed.

Chun says that’s because the scientists realize the study size required would be very large.

Related: Moved by kindness

Pukas went ahead with her explant in April of this year – which involved removing the scar capsule as well as the implant – and describes the change as shockingly immediate. The whites of her eyes were suddenly white. The brain fog began to lift.

“It’s been a night and day change with my health and how it’s turned around.”

She explains that the symptoms came down to the fact her body was fighting itself, trying to get rid of the implant.

“It has nothing to do with who put that implant in, it’s how your body’s immune system reacts to that implant.”

And she now feels great mentally.

“The crazy thing is, after the explant, I feel so much better about myself, so much sexier, so much better than I did with the implants. My body is one that works, it’s healthy.”

Her purpose in talking about her experience is not intended to incite panic or to point fingers. It’s for information, she emphasizes, calling herself pro-information, not anti-plastic surgery.

“I want women to be aware it is a possibility from implants… “It’s an important conversation. Often women’s health gets pushed aside.”

Her story is spreading throughout the media, including Cosmopolitan, O (Oprah) Magazine, MSN.com and Yahoo.com. Her YouTube video, “The Truth about Breast Implants – Breast Implant Illness,” detailing her experience, has surpassed half a million views.

“I think it’s important people put their story out there, and the truth. A decision I made at 22 will affect me for the rest of my life. I see the value of what my body can do, not what it looks like. That’s what it’s for. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It’s a shell.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Karissa Pukas is back to feeling healthy and happy following the removal of her breast implants in April 2018 after years of breast implant illness. (Photo contributed)

Karissa Pukas is back to feeling healthy and happy following the removal of her breast implants in April 2018 after years of breast implant illness. (Photo contributed)

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

File photo
Sylvan Lake NexSource Centre reopens Monday

As part of the provincial reopening plan, the recreation facility is able to open to the public

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read