Reality television star Tiffany "New York" Pollard is warning people who opt for cosmetic enhancements to their bust size to be wary of "breast implant illness," a mysterious complication she had after recent breast surgeries within the last five years.
"I would wake some days and literally think that this is my last day on Earth," Pollard told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview, "because that's how uncertain I was because of how declined my health was.
"And I can just remember laying on my couch and going, 'Is this it? Is this it?'"
Pollard said she experienced bouts of diarrhea each morning, vertigo, a foggy brain, headaches, and mood swings, and she often felt fatigued throughout the day. "I was just out of my freaking mind," said Pollard, who said she'd had cosmetic surgery on her breasts at least four times in total.
Pollard will be making her second appearance Monday night on Botched, the E! reality series launched in 2014 in which cosmetic surgeons Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif assist in fixing people's plastic surgery misfortunes. In Monday's episode, she has her implants removed and her breasts are reshaped with her remaining tissue.
Back in 2015, Pollard appeared on the show in order to correct a previous breast implant surgery. The star had said that one breast felt hard and the other saggy.
Though she was pleased with the result after that surgery, Pollard admitted that Dubrow had told her that her skin might not be able to handle the larger implant she'd requested, which is evident by her upcoming visit with the surgeons on Monday's show.
Currently, breast implant illness is not officially recognized as a medical condition, though there is a Facebook group with nearly 100,000 people dedicated to talking about this issue.
In March, the US Food and Drug Administration said they were aware of complaints from patients and were looking into them. "We’ve also heard from patients who are concerned that their implants may be connected to other health conditions that could be associated with their immune system’s response to these devices, resulting in symptoms like chronic fatigue, cognitive issues and muscle pain," said Dr. Jeff Shuren, the director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
"While the FDA doesn’t have definitive evidence suggesting breast implants are associated with these conditions, we’re looking to gain a fuller understanding of this issue to communicate risk, minimize harm and help in the treatment of affected patients," Shuren said.
Dubrow, who performed the surgery on Pollard to remove her implants, defined breast implant illness as "the existence of a possible autoimmune disorder caused by a type of foreign body reaction that may occur in women with breast implants."
Dubrow told BuzzFeed News that the illness can "cause nonspecific symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, rashes, intestinal problems and others," but "its exact relationship to breast implants is unclear."
He added that there is unfortunately no way of knowing if you're susceptible to getting breast implant illness before having the procedure done.
"Plastic surgeons will generally tell you it’s either very rare or it doesn’t exist at all, but that probably isn’t the whole story," he told BuzzFeed News. "Be informed, be careful, and maybe think twice before getting breast implants."
Pollard said she'd always dreamed of having breast implants, citing singer Dolly Parton as her inspiration. But she said those looking to undergo the procedure need to be sure of themselves and their reasons.
"It's always important to get a procedure for yourself," she said. "You don't want to do it because you felt pressured by the media or by a lover or just any other reason other than it being something that you really want."
Dr. Jeff Shuren is the director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. His title was misstated in an earlier version of this post.