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

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

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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

<em>Black Press file photo </em>
Clare’s Corner: Yes, love is strange — and an addiction

A little bit of love to help get you through those Monday blues

Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School in Kitimat scored a 1.7 out of 10 on the Fraser Institute’s annual school report cards. This is the lowest the school has ever scored, where they usually average around a 5. (Black Press Media photo)
‘Developing a sense of belonging’: Kitimat high school unconcerned by Fraser Institute’s report card ranking

The Institute’s annual school report cards gave Mount Elizabeth Middle/Secondary a 1.7 out of 10

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

Ellis Ross (left), BC Liberal party, celebrated with his wife, Tracey after being named the preliminary winner of the 2020 snap provincial election.
Ross presumptive Skeena winner in snap B.C. election

Election outcome will not be official until mail-in ballots are counted

Voting has officially closed throughout B.C. for the 2020 snap provincial election. (Clare Rayment)
Map of Skeena polling stations

Watch the updates on the map below as polling stations are counted throughout Skeena riding

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

The outbreak is the first within B.C.’s school system since classes resumed back in September

Most Read