No one told Karen Monetti that getting breast implants could make her sick. Now the former bodybuilding champion is working to warn women about the dangers breast implant illness.
In 2011, Karen Monetti took first place in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation’s Universe and World contests — seven years after first becoming involved in the sport of fitness competitions.
A competitive runner and hockey player in high school, she had a passion for fitness that later also translated into becoming a certified nutrition consultant.
Today she works as a wellness coach and nutritionist.
From the outside looking in, Monetti is not the person anyone would peg as struggling with a host of chronic health issues.
And yet, struggle she has.
In her mid-twenties, Monetti began to develop severe acne. At the time she assumed it was competition and hormone related. But a year later, she was diagnosed with celiac disease, followed by a dairy allergy.
She told Healthline, “A few years after that I became very ill: adrenal dysfunction, severe hormone imbalance, more skin issues, rashes, weight gain, and hyperpigmentation of my face, followed by four UTIs all in a single year.”
Fast forward another few years to January 2018, she told Healthline she was diagnosed with four different types of parasites, gut bacteria, and an allergy to most vegetables.
“I was waking up with constant pain and fatigue no matter what I did or didn’t do,” she explained.
Of course she was confused about the health issues that plagued her. Nevertheless, she followed all the nutrition rules, remained active, ate organic food, saw an acupuncturist, chiropractor, and functional medicine doctor. She also didn’t eat meat and was technically doing everything “right” to take care of her health and body.
So why did everything seem to be going so wrong?
Earlier this year, Monetti thought she may have found the answer.
“My husband tagged me in a post written by a woman who had removed her breast implants due to breast implant illness, or BII. This lead me to support groups on Facebook where women were experiencing the exact same issues I was. It was mind blowing. One group had 50,000 women in it!”
At the age of 23, a few years before her health issues began, Monetti had gotten breast implants, telling Healthline, “The doctors and all the research said that they were perfectly safe.”
But as soon as she heard about BII, she was sure it was the explanation for her health issues.
Within three weeks, she was sitting in front of a doctor asking to have her breast implants removed.
Monetti is not the only woman speaking out about BII.
Earlier this year, fitness trainer Ashley Dale Grant shared a similar story. And in 2016, Crystal Hefner (Hugh Hefner’s widow) wrote a Facebook post detailing the symptoms that led to having her own breast implants removed.
Still, the medical community remains split on how real BII may be. The research thus far is lacking, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons states on their website that while there are anecdotal reports, “scientific studies including hundreds of thousands of women with implants have refuted an association between implants and systemic or autoimmune diseases.