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High Ana & Plastic Surgery Regrets
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Hi Everyone,

Not sure where this post belongs but I wanted to reach out for some advise/opinions. :huh:

Two years ago I decided to have a breast augmentation. This decision took years to make and after I found a very reputable doctor I decided I should just go for it. I was 25. Fast forward two years, and I have full blown celiac disease, HIGH ANA levels, elevated liver enzymes, thinning hair, jaw pain, and my chest is just always uncomfortable. I thought when I was diagnosed with celiac, that was the answer to my health problems. I've been strict gluten-free for 6 months (recent bloodwork still shows elevated tranglut levels but normal gliadin levels).. but now I'm wondering if it's my implants. I'm sure autoimmune issues is in my genes, but now I'm concerned I just added fuel to the fire. In the next few weeks I'm going to run some more bloodwork and meet with a new GI doctor.. but I'm seriously regretting getting the surgery. Looks mean nothing if you're unhealthy and unhappy. My husband thinks I'm over-thinking it too much, but I just have this "gut" feeling that I can't shake. Any advise or opinions are appreciated. I know this sounds like a very "first world" problem.. but it's a big decision to get them removed. :blink:

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Aw geez, what a terrible thing to have happen.

A trauma like surgery can trigger celiac. Unfortunately, celiac does not cause ANA so you have something else going on. Have you done any research on breast implants and autoimmunity? I know the old silicone gel ones were really a problem for some women. I don't know whether things change when the implants are removed, which you would want to know.

And don't belittle your "first world" problem. It's affecting your life very dramatically and it sounds very upsetting. Of course it's a big decision to get implants removed!

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I don

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Thanks for your input you two. I've been killing myself over it. I can accept that I have the genes for autoimmunue diseases.. but I can't cope with the notion that I've made myself sicker or caused my health issues by getting unnecessary surgery. The high ANA is what really bothers me.. but I had that test done when I was first diagnosed with celiac back in September. I've heard of it coming down after going gluten free? I guess I could get it retested and see..

To be honest I think I know exactly what triggered my celiac.. I started a new job, moved to a new town, got married, and found out my dad had stage four liver cancer all in one month. Bam.. stress upon stress. I wouldn't doubt I had it before that too.. but I never had major symptoms until around that time.

I'm still weighing my options about my implants though. I just have so much anxiety over it.. but I don't want to "disfigure" myself if I don't have to. At the end of the day they are uncomfortable so I should probably have another consult with my doctor. Arg... I know I just need to give it more time and see. Thanks again for letting me vent here! :rolleyes:

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I did a little reading and apparently 20% of women who get implants have another surgery. The main problem is capsular contracture, which can apparently be uncomfortable like you're describing. That would be something to talk to your doctor about.

I poked around a bit and the scientific arguments surrounding breast implants and autoimmunity are vigorous. Some studies show women with implants tend to have ANA more often, others don't show a difference. Surgeons keep reporting series of cases of scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia-like symptoms in women with implants, but nobody has been able to consistently demonstrate a causal relationship in a big study. To add to the confusion implants keep changing; the ones on the market in the US were only approved in 2006.

You might read this letter in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that women with fibromyalgia symptoms improved significantly more than those who kept their implants. It was done in 1994, and the implants would have been somewhat different than yours.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199511233332113

I'd give it some time, and getting the ANA rechecked sounds wise. It may be that things continue to improve gluten-free.

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I understand your fear. I think talking to your Dr. is a good idea, and be sure to ask any questions you have. I thought I should also mention, that it takes time to heal from any gluten damage you may have, so don't jump into a hasty decision about your implants based on a non-specific blood test.

Maybe a repeat of the blood test would be a good idea now that you've been gluten-free for a while? It might help give you peace of mind..or tell you if you're on to something?

Healing time will depend on how much damage you had, your age, your health in general before Dx, and whether or not you are getting any cc.

When we stop gluten we're led to believe we'll miraculously become completely healthy right away. When it takes some time we become anxious and think that something else must be wrong with us..when we just need more healing time?

Best wishes to you.

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Thanks for looking up all the information Skylark! I've been doing some research too and there are a lot of reported cases similar to mine.. but I know that celiac disease can cause some pretty wacky symptoms too. It's just strange that I'm not getting much better, and actually seem to be developing other odd symptoms. It could be I have another underlying autoimmune issue or that the implants are just making me sick..OR that I'm taking longer than normal to heal. I don't think I'll ever know.. but I will definitely follow up with my doctors. I'm 27, pretty athletic, and very healthy from a dietary standpoint. I eliminated dairy, almost all grains, corn (although it's in everything so I have to be more careful) and I take a multi-vitamin everyday. I want so badly to be healthy and to stop thinking that I'm a "ticking time-bomb"..on a daily basis I never know if I'm on the road to recovery or just getting sicker.

I think you got it right Bubba's Mom.. we become anxious when we don't notice results right away. That's definitely where I am right now! Blah :unsure:

Thanks for all your input everyone. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and I'll let you know what he says. ;)

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Good luck. I'm glad I don't have to face that decision!

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Aw geez, what a terrible thing to have happen.

A trauma like surgery can trigger celiac. Unfortunately, celiac does not cause ANA so you have something else going on. Have you done any research on breast implants and autoimmunity? I know the old silicone gel ones were really a problem for some women. I don't know whether things change when the implants are removed, which you would want to know.

And don't belittle your "first world" problem. It's affecting your life very dramatically and it sounds very upsetting. Of course it's a big decision to get implants removed!

Actually, having Celiac can cause elevated ANA levels. ANA only tells you that you have inflammation in your body and any number of autoimmune problems can elevate numbers. Mine has been elevated for years and has been slowly coming down the longer I am gluten free. Having any autoimmune problem can elevate it.

As far as plastic surgery is concerned, from what I was once told by a plastic surgeon, it is a wiser choice not to have any foreign objects implanted in the body when you have autoimmune problems. It is also better to avoid injectables like Botox, Relastin or any of the anti-wrinkle treatments that are commonly used today. Anything that is injected or surgically implanted has the chance of further aggravating your immune system. I was told by this particular surgeon that he refuses to do any such work on anyone who has autoimmune diseases. He has turned away patients for this reason and I had a lot of respect for that. I know this is a big decision

but if your problems are getting worse, then it's something to consider.

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Thanks for that information Gemini. I wish I knew more about my body and genes before I had the procedure.. but what can you do.. <_<

I met with my doctor today and he was very supportive. He doesn't think the implants are causing me the issues, but he said that if my other doctors recommend I get them removed he'll do it free of charge and it's an easy procedure. He said I should bounce back because I'm young. Honestly I don't care about my figure.. I just want to feel better! I have an appointment with a new GI doctor at the end of the week and another appointment with an immunologist. I'll see what they say and will definitely get my ANA tested again. At the end of the day if I have to get them removed, I'm okay with that. It's my husband I feel bad for! haha.. he's amazing though and only wants to see me healthy too.

Thanks for all the support here. I really appreciate it!

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I really hope you get this sorted out and get to feeling better. It's great to hear that your doctor is supportive.

I think getting ANA retested is a great idea. I don't know where Gemini's info comes from but the association with ANA and celiac is not very strong. Here is a study showing what I mean. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20037707 There are false positive ANA in 3%-5% of women who don't have symptoms of an ANA-associated autoimmune disease like Sjogren's or lupus but I'm not sure they are high positives. That said, Gemini clearly has ANA from celiac and I'm sure there are other folks who do. It would be good if they're falling.

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I second getting your ANA retested. My level was high at the beginning of last year. I went on the gluten free diet in July and was diagnosed in August. When my bloodwork was run again at the end of the year my levels had dropped within range. I'm not 100% sure it was because of the gluten-free diet, but I can't point to anything else that may have contributed to the drop.

As for the implants, I can't help you with that except to offer some of mine as a replacement. :P I acutally had mine reduced and then they grew back. Ugh. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.

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That's good to know Celtic! I'm sure it would be better to wait a year before I get re-tested, but it can't hurt to do it now I suppose. I've been gluten-free for about 6 months. Do you remember what your ANA titer and pattern was? Mine was 1:1280 with a homonegenous pattern. My doctor never even discussed this with me. I accidentally came across it when I was faxing my medical records to a new doctor. I didn't even know what it meant.. looked everything up online then freaked out!

You are so right about the grass being greener. All my life I was tiny on top and larger on the bottom. I just wanted to be more proportioned so I decided to get the surgery. Yes I look much better in t-shirts.. but I think it took me having larger breasts to know they don't really make me feel all that different. If anything, they are just causing me more pain than they're worth! :o

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Me and my D cup could have told you life isn't much different with boobs. Plus mine are gonna sag to my belly button in another 20 years! :lol:

Homogenous is the most common false positive ANA test. You definitely need to get it redone!

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I really hope you get this sorted out and get to feeling better. It's great to hear that your doctor is supportive.

I think getting ANA retested is a great idea. I don't know where Gemini's info comes from but the association with ANA and celiac is not very strong. Here is a study showing what I mean. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20037707 There are false positive ANA in 3%-5% of women who don't have symptoms of an ANA-associated autoimmune disease like Sjogren's or lupus but I'm not sure they are high positives. That said, Gemini clearly has ANA from celiac and I'm sure there are other folks who do. It would be good if they're falling.

The information came from a hematologist/immunologist I saw for wonky blood results. As ANA is a general test for inflammation, anyone could have an out of range ANA today because inflammation from various sources is rampant. Her explanation was that as Celiac can cause such widespread damage and inflammation, her experience has been that most of her autoimmune patients always have elevated labs. I have to say, mine where extremely high but ever so slowly, the longer I am gluten free, they are coming down. They are half of what they used to be and I have 4 AI diseases. I do not take meds, other than thyroid hormone and eye drops for the Sjogren's.

Having Celiac can and will cause wonky blood tests. Unless you are very symptomatic for certain AI diseases, then don't worry about it. The worry can cause more problems, sometimes.

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Thanks for that information Gemini. I wish I knew more about my body and genes before I had the procedure.. but what can you do.. <_<

I met with my doctor today and he was very supportive. He doesn't think the implants are causing me the issues, but he said that if my other doctors recommend I get them removed he'll do it free of charge and it's an easy procedure. He said I should bounce back because I'm young. Honestly I don't care about my figure.. I just want to feel better! I have an appointment with a new GI doctor at the end of the week and another appointment with an immunologist. I'll see what they say and will definitely get my ANA tested again. At the end of the day if I have to get them removed, I'm okay with that. It's my husband I feel bad for! haha.. he's amazing though and only wants to see me healthy too.

Thanks for all the support here. I really appreciate it!

If you haven't been on the diet very long, then you may want to wait a bit before considering surgery. All of your symptoms and blood work issues scream of Celiac Disease but can all be calmed down and improved upon over time. I have been doing this for just 7 years, next month, and with each passing year, am getting better and better. You may even have triggered before your implant surgery, which is usually the case as you don't get that bad overnight, and the surgery itself stressed your autoimmune system. It's a lot of guesswork. However, the offer of free surgery to remove them is a very nice offer. :) You are being very adult about all this so I think you will do well. It is a tough decision to make!

I wish you well but please be patient with recovery and don't stress too much about your ANA levels. Mine were off the charts and I never gave it a moment of worry. I knew all my AI diseases were causing the spikes and knew I would get better. The glass is half full, not half empty! ;)

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    • Another link: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/7351/PDF
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    • Thank you. This is really helpful. I will call around next week.  I just want to heal! 
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