A mum has had her breast implants taken out after suffering ill-effects for 20 years which made her feel like an "old lady".

Kay Richardson, from Billingham, County Durham, suffered with chronic fatigue, joint pain and hair loss before she discovered the cause of her problems.

After researching the symptoms of BII - Breast Implant Illness - she realised they "could have been written for her".

The mum-of-three booked in for implant removal and now wants more women to be aware of the potential dangers, reports Teeside Live.

BII is not currently an official medical diagnosis but other women have described similar, life-shattering symptoms

Kay is pictured here with husband Ian and children Ava, Noa and Nyla

Kay believes "thousands and thousands across the world can't be wrong".

Kay was 21 and in the Royal Logistics Corps when she went under the knife at a private Birmingham clinic.

"I was very flat-chested and slim," she said. "But when you are that age you just want to feel more womanly.

"Looking back, it was the best figure I've ever had but you don't appreciate it at the time. There wasn't the research there is now.

"The surgeon said 'they're a lifetime guarantee'. They're not. None of them are. But I was 21, I just thought 'lifetime guarantee, great'."

Over the years that followed, Kay developed a catalogue of ailments.

Kay before being operated on

But they came on so gradually she never suspected her silicone implants could be the cause.

"I used to be very fit but I'd get flare-ups and joint pain lasting a few days," she explained.

"I was like an old lady, but I'd just live with it because I wasn't one for going to the doctor.

"The last few years, my health has really deteriorated, chronic fatigue, hair thinning, scabs, really bad tummy aches, the list is endless."

Kay suffered shooting pains throughout her body, particularly at night, and had blood tests and checks for arthritis and fibromyalgia.

"It started affecting my mental health, I'd get really bad brain fog," Kay continued.

"I'd be talking to a client and completely forget what I was saying. You start to panic, I had no answers."

Things came to a head in December when Kay went for a massage.

"They pushed too hard," she said. "I got really bad pain in my breast and armpit. I thought it might have ruptured.

"I said 'I really need to get these ones out and new ones in'."

The surgical team filmed Kay's operation

By chance, Kay read about Breast Implant Illness (BII) online.

"I started looking at the symptoms - my husband said it could have been written for me. I couldn't believe it.

"It's not surprising. They are made of toxins and chemicals, which are bound to release somewhere in your body.

"I thought the only way I'm going to find out is to remove them."

She's started blogging about her experience, setting up her Facebook support page Fake to Organic - Implant Removal by Kay Richardson.

And, courageously, she decided to flim the op to have her implants removed from start to finish.

Stories began pouring in from women all over the UK, who identified with the symptoms Kay described and "felt like they were losing their mind.

Some have told how they lost their jobs, their families and can barely get out of bed some days.

"One woman had been sectioned," says Kay. "I can totally understand how it makes you lose your mind.

"I have pushed my husband to a point. I'm lucky that he's stood by me. "

Kay's surgeon speaks about the operation

Kay said that as breast implants are not regulated, she could easily have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or other conditions if doctors did not understand the implants were the problem.

"Not one doctor asked me if I had implants," she continued. "This needs to be changed. It has to be proven.

"For me, there are thousands and thousands of women all over the world. They can't all be wrong.

"I want to make people aware, it is time this is recognised."

Implant removal should be widely available on the NHS, she claims.

"It's classed as self-inflicted," she says. "But so is smoking.

"You don't get them in, thinking you're going to be poorly."

She's still bandaged and sore from the op, but now Kay can breathe easier - literally - after the sharp chestbone pains she felt with every inhalation disappeared overnight.

"That's the first thing I've noticed," she said. "It was part of my life, I'd got used to it.

Kay said she never suspected breast implants were the cause

"But it went straightaway. I feel clearer in my head, more positive. 

"I'm taking each day as it comes."

The 41-year-old has "no idea" how she's going to feel, or how her breasts will look afterwards, but she's "not that bothered".

"I'd looked at a lot of pictures [of others], some were good, some were bad.

"I never appreciated my body at all. I've always been quite hard on myself.

"At the end of the day, I've got three young children and a husband and your health is more important.

"Getting my boobs done didn't change the way I felt about my body."

Many people,  including women in Billingham who Kay knows, have come forward with the same symptoms, which is "scary", Kay says.

She told one woman who was planning a removal to make sure the 'capsule' surrounding her implants was sent off to be tested - and she's calling for the practice to be made compulsory.

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The capsule is the layer of tissue that naturally forms around implants.

Despite her experience, Kay says she's not campaigning to stop people from getting implants altogether.

But she does want the industry to be better regulated

"Implants can save women who are really down," she says. "Having a boyish figure is really hard for some women.

"People won't stop getting them. But we want it to be regulated.