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

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

The Kimberley Dynamiters' next two exhibition games have been postponed due to an individual testing positive for COVID-19. Paul Rodgers file.
Member of Kimberley Dynamiters tests positive for COVID-19

Exhibition games in Fernie, Creston postponed

Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt presented with a poppy by Edith LeClair, President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 24. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Royal Canadian Legion presents poppy to Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt

Mayor Lee Pratt (left) is presented with a poppy by Edith LeClair… Continue reading

A naloxone kit. (Black Press Media file photo)
Interior Health issues drug alert for Cranbrook

Interior Health has issued a drug alert in the Cranbrook area for… Continue reading

Blue Sky Kingdom.
Kimberley’s Bruce Kirkby publishes “Blue Sky Kingdom” documenting family adventure to Zanskar

Bruce Kirkby, a prolific and world-reknowned adventurer, writer and photographer who calls… Continue reading

Cranbrook city hall.
Cranbrook construction values continue to soar despite pandemic

The City of Cranbrook is on pace to finish the year with… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Most Read