Former Bachelorette Clare Crawley Opens Up About Her Recent Breast Explant Surgery

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Former Bachelorette Clare Crawley Opens Up About Her Recent Breast Explant Surgery featured image

If you’re a Bachelor franchise fan like me, you first “met” Clare Crawley on Juan Pablo’s season back in 2014, and loved her strong sense of self, and of course her perfectly styled hair thanks to her skills as a hairstylist (she styled many of the contestants’ hair that season, too). Then we followed Crawley’s love journey on a few of the Bachelor spinoff series, and most recently in 2020 while she was The Bachelorette. Known for being pretty open on social media, Crawley’s fans noticed she’d been pretty MIA lately, and we recently found out why.

On July 3, Crawley posted a video she captioned “Coming to Terms,” in which she described how she discovered there was a problem with the implants she loved so much. “I’ve been going through things medically with my body that I have not had answers to, to be honest, for a couple years, and it’s been hard, and it’s been frustrating, and it’s been scary for me to know something’s not right. To have doctors say, ‘It looks fine, it could be this, but we don’t really know,’ and doing test after test after test.”

The Bachelorette Season 16 star says she’s kept it private because “being in the public eye and going through something so vulnerable is scary and hard. It leaves a lot of room for vulnerability and openness, but I’m one of those women that likes to rise to the occasion, and do hard things. So, here is me putting it out there and sharing what I’ve been going through with you guys because it’s been a lot. It’s hard sometimes pretending like things are OK when you know you’re not doing OK.” She urged her followers to reach out to her if they are feeling the same way, in hopes that her post can touch someone in need of help as well. 

“I’ve tried, trust me, every remedy in the world that I’m aware of, but ultimately my skin has been having really bad hives and rash all down my stomach, on my neck, my arms and my whole body is just inflamed and itchy. And the worst part usually gets around my eyes. I’ve had blood test after blood test, medication after medication, antiobiotic after antihistimine—just everything in the book. And that’s not my only symptom, but just the most physical one. It comes and goes in waves and I’ve been trying to control it but it’s so frustrating to not have answers.”

So what was it exactly? “There’s been a lot of other symptoms, but it all kind of came to a head about a month ago when I was at the chiropractor and I got an X-ray. He goes, ‘Hey, you want might to go get a mammogram,’ because I have implants obviously, but behind one of them was a huge pocket of fluid, or a big space he saw.”

Off she went to get her mammogram, which she said she had to do anyway because she’s now 40. “It was so easy to do and I’m glad I did it, but they noticed there was some stuff going on in suspicious areas. So I had to go back in twice and they did more mammograms and an ultrasound, and essentially they found fluid sacks behind my implants.”

After this testing, Crawley had her doctor look back at all her bloodwork. “Essentially, my white blood count has been elevated for the past five years and has been fighting something we didn’t know. And as much as I love my implants, my body is fighting them as recognizing them as something foreign. I know this is not everybody’s case, but this is my case and my body. My body is in fight mode constantly and it’s exhausting, it’s depressing. So here’s the deal: As much as I’ve loved having these, this is so important to me, that I love my health and well-being more. That’s what matters. I was talking to Dale the other day and he even said, ‘Your boobs are not what make you beautiful,’ and it’s the truth. For so long I believed that’s what it would take, but my health is the most important thing.”

Last week, Crawley took to Instagram again, but this time shared that her breast implants were coming out. “We are taking it back to Clare 1.0, who is lovable and worthy just the way she is,” she writes in the caption.

Louisville, KY plastic surgeon Chet Mays, MD says, “In the last few years, there’s been more awareness of breast implants and some symptoms individuals are experiencing that we really can’t scientifically put a finger on or a diagnosis on. There are some women who have had breast implants in the past and want them removed because they’ve become educated on some of the symptoms they’re having that just can’t be described by their medical doctor. Whatever the patient wants—I’m not here to talk them into implants or out of implants. We definitely put a lot more in than we take out, but information that’s available online has helped people get a lot more educated on this, and I’ve also become more educated as a plastic surgeon.”

In a normal week of consultations, Dr. Mays sees one or two patients—out of 20 to 30—requesting implant removal. “It’s quite a bit, but 90 percent of patients want them in. I think individuals like the Bachelorette who are undergoing these procedures just bring more light to the subject, so I think that’s helpful.”

As far as the actual breast implant removal procedure, Dr. Mays says the surgeon will use the original incision to remove the implant (there won’t be another scar), and if everything is healthy, it’s a fairly easy process. “However, most women still want some volume in their breasts, so a lot of times I’ll do a breast lift after taking them out with what’s called auto-augmentation, which means using the patient’s own tissue to augment the breast. I do a lot of that, and also a lot of fat transfer, which is when I take fat via liposuction and put it into the breasts to add volume so they get some of that fullness they had from implants, but they no longer have implants. It’s all about patient goals: Some patients just want to be done, but some patients want a similar look without the implant. That’s one of the joys I have as a surgeon is coming up with solutions for patients.”

La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD says, “The vast majority of patients who had implants are happy with them and do not want them removed. There may be a subset of patients who have a problem, and if you are one of them, see a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss the options. Patients who have never had implants can also have these symptoms. ASERF [the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation] is doing a significant amount of research into these areas to see the relationship.” 

Yesterday, August 1, Crawley did a Q/A on her Instagram stories, giving her followers an update on her explant surgery. These are some of the questions her followers asked about her procedure and recovery:

Are you in pain? 
“I feel like this is the number-one question people are asking, and I asked this same thing of other people before I got it done. I got a nerve block and it lasts for 72 hours, so I haven’t had to take any pain medicine and I feel really good. You guys know I was so nervous and so scared, which I think is so natural when you’re going into like a surgery like this. The most uncomfortable thing so far is just having to wear two bras—it’s just so tight.”

Tell me more about the drains [small, soft tubes that help remove blood and fluid from the wound during recovery].
“One of my biggest fears—one of the many—was having the drains, and would I pull on them (because they’re sewn into you). I was just worried if they would itch or hurt, but they have not bothered me at all and I think I get them out soon.”

Did you get the capsules [the scar tissue that builds up around the implants] removed as well?
“Yes, 100 percent. That’s why I came from California to Florida because I wanted to choose a doctor that specializes in removing the capsules as well as the implants because that is the key to healing.”

Did you get or need a lift with removal?
“Dr. Rankin actually specializes in reconstruction, so I told him and I left it up to him. I said: ‘Do what you’ve got to do to make them look cute.’ And I actually ended up not needing a lift, so we didn’t do a lift.”

So how is your illness now? Do you magically feel like a new person?
“I wouldn’t say there’s anything magical about this. I would say that once you remove the cause of something, you heal and you get better. It’s not magic, it’s science.”

Did the doctor show you the implants afterward?
“Yes, they are so gross! I have a picture.”

Do you know what size you’ll be? 
“I have no idea what size I am going to be—I’m assuming what I was before this, but either way I’m just happy to be back to myself and feel healthy.”

How long was the procedure?
“Two hours.”

Do you regret getting implants?
“Not for one second.”

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