A New Documentary Called 'Explant' Sheds Light On The Dangers Of Breast Implants

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Woman laying in the hospital bed
World of Wonder/PARAMOUNT+

Michelle Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, author and podcaster, is no stranger to the limelight. And now she adds documentary star to her list of accomplishments with the release of Explant, streaming on Paramount+ this month.

Three years ago, Visage had her breast implants removed after 20 years of unexplained, undiagnosed illness. Now her deeply personal journey is available to the masses, with the hopes of redeeming other women, through Explant.

Of course, I have a personal connection to Visage’s journey, as I too chose to explant after three and a half years with breast implants. I was experiencing a whopping 29 symptoms of breast implant illness—an unofficial, but very real, medical condition. I described myself as a “rapidly aging zombie” who spent many days in bed, unable to raise my four children or work. Explanting, I have no doubt, saved my life.

Visage shared with me that she was told by doctors just to “take a Xanax” when she voiced concerns about her various symptoms. She was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease, while trying to get pregnant. She suspected that her symptoms could be caused by her implants. Yet, like many women, she faced medical gaslighting.

She realized that there was a “common denominator”—a 24/7 invader. Her body, she told me, could never relax. She started doing some research, becoming a “sleuth,” and knew that her breast implants were the culprits of her medical nightmare.

It’s been three years since Visage had her implants removed, and I wanted to know if she’s seen a difference in her health. The documentary wraps up with Visage, a few months post-explant, learning that she has evidence of silicone — a component of all breast implants — throughout her body. Today, she reports that her autoimmune numbers have improved and her brain fog is gone. Her hair loss has reversed — and her hair is thicker and healthier than it’s ever been. Her memory and energy have dramatically increased. Most importantly, she told me that she’s starting to “feel like me again.”

World of Wonder/PARAMOUNT+

World of Wonder

I wondered why Visage, someone with such visibility and influence, would choose to document her journey publicly. Hollywood has long presented an image of perfection and beauty — much of it with the help of plastic surgery. She told me that women need to know “there are resources” and that they are not alone.

Many of us who chose to get breast implants have wondered, as Visage did, why no one told us the potential, multiple dangers of breast implants? Many of us feel deceived. We were sold a product (the implants) and a service (the surgery) without learning what those foreign objects could do to our health.

And in October, the FDA shocked the breast implant illness (BII) community by issuing new, stricter breast implant guidelines. But are these enough? Visage says she was treated “like an insane person” when she sought confirmation that her implants were the root cause of her debilitating and multiple symptoms.

Of course, explanting is neither easy nor cheap. Visage isn’t anti-plastic surgery; instead she’s pro-transparency and being fully informed patients.

Many of us who received implants, Visage included, did so blindly — and not by our own fault or choosing. The risks disclosed to us were minimized, if they were even disclosed at all. We weren’t told that breast implants can hide cancer in mammogram screenings, that some breast implants can lead to cancer, or that breast implants can cause breast implant illness. Visage recalls that she was merely told implants can rupture. That’s it.

Visage told me is excited about the documentary, and she’s proudly a “guinea pig” for women who have been sick from their breast implants. Though like many women, as Visage pointed out to me, “don’t want to believe” their implants are making them sick, the proof is the women — like Visage — who have explanted. Our stories of dramatic healing, of health restoration, are undeniable.

Explant is currently airing on Paramount+.