Model and reality TV star Blac Chyna, whose real name is Angela White, is opening up about her recent decision to undo years of cosmetic work, including getting her breast implants removed. The procedure, known as explant surgery, is becoming more common, in part, due to a larger social trend towards a more natural look.
“I was so young, I just wanted that body, 'cause I saw everybody, you know, my crew, getting it. And I wanted to be with the 'it girls,'” White said in an interview with ABC News.
Blac Chyna, known for her extreme hourglass figure, appearances on the red carpet, reality TV and in hip-pop music videos, became the alter ego that made Angela White famous, but in the process she says she began to lose her true self. Recently, she’s turned inward and started focusing on her health, got baptized and earned a doctoral degree in liberal arts from a seminary college.
“As I started to slim down, my features started to really come out. Like, my cheekbones and everything. So with all the filler, that started to really protrude out now that my face has become slimmer. Even my body. I just wasn’t happy with the way I looked,” White said.
At 34, the mother of two is looking to reverse the look that catapulted her to stardom. She recently got her dermal fillers dissolved, removed seven rounds of illegal butt injections and reduced her breast implants, chronicling the process to her 17 million Instagram followers.
“As you can see, I got my breasts reduced, one of the best decisions I could have done in a very, very long time,” White said in one Instagram video.
And it’s not only White going under the knife to remove implants. In 2020, plastic surgeons removed more than 36,000 breast implant augmentations — an almost 8% increase from the previous year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Gabriel Chiu has seen the explant trend firsthand, saying that some patients are opting for a smaller size.
“I’m finding that a lot of patients want to go more natural, which has been the trend,” Chiu told ABC News' Zohreen Shah.
And although they are still quite popular, the number of breast augmentation surgeries has decreased in the last few years while the number of explants has risen, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said.
Dr. Kevin Brenner, a Beverly Hills plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said for many, getting their implants taken out is more than just a change of heart. He said breast augmentations have many potential complications.
Experts recommend removing or replacing implants every 10 to 15 years to prevent health issues. Last year, the FDA issued a safety warning after cancerous cells were found in the capsule that forms around breast implants in some patients.
Brenner said that while the presence of squamous cell carcinomas is extremely rare, it's also very difficult to treat, adding that it can often be fatal.
The most commonly known complication is Breast Implant Illness or BII, a term used to describe a constellation of symptoms reported by people after using implants.
“Bachelorette” alum Clare Crawley, professional racecar driver Danica Patrick and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage are among celebrities who have come forward saying their breast implants caused worrying symptoms that prompted them to get them removed.
Brenner said he stopped putting in implants altogether after noticing some of his patients struggled with implant-related illnesses, including a colleague named Laurie Hanna, who asked him to use implants for her reconstruction surgery after battling breast cancer. Over time, Hanna developed what they think was BII, and eventually had the implants taken out.
“There is just something that hit home with me. And I just decided that I just couldn’t put them in anymore,” Brenner said.
While Breast Implant Illness is not a formal medical diagnosis and research has remained inconclusive about any association between breast implants and long-term health, the FDA is now tracking symptoms associated with it.
Meanwhile, many of those who get their breast implants removed say they finally have the space to build a better relationship with their bodies — something Angela White knows firsthand.
“Beauty fades. Fashion fades. It’s a new collection every season. Your brain and your mindset, you’re gonna have that for the rest of your life. You gotta really start living in your truth,” White said.