Immediately after receiving the surgery she started to feel anxious and suffer from depression. From there, she has since suffered from weight loss, heart palpitations, extreme tiredness, memory loss, rashes, and even suicidal thoughts.
Eventually, she came across a Facebook page for people who are suffering from 'breast implant illness' and became concerned that her implants were causing her ailments. She discovered that there is a community of thousands of women with almost identical symptoms.
Erika Rae Ritschard. Credit: SWNS
Ritschard then paid $5000 to have the implants taken out, and her symptoms immediately started to subside.
Despite not being officially recognised officially, more than 50,000 women are members of online support groups discussing and reporting such symptoms.
Erika, a mum of three from Long Beach, Mississippi, said: "It's horrifying to think that what I had chosen to put into my body was making it wither away.
"I wanted to cut them out of myself. During my worst times, I even contemplated suicide.
"After breastfeeding two babies and losing some weight, I wasn't really into the appearance of my breasts.
"My husband told me I looked perfect but I was really set on getting implants.
"I felt like I had given my body to my kids and this was something just for me.
"You had to be 22 to get silicone and I got them the day after my 22nd birthday."
After having the surgery - which set her back $3,800 - she started to get ill. Erika continued: "Within three months, I was dealing with anxiety and depression,
"All of a sudden my heart was racing for no reason.
"I got a kidney infection in the summer. After that, it was constant. I had recurring yeast infections and respiratory problems. I went to ER several times with migraines."
Erika became very ill immediately after her surgery. Credit: SWNS
Then, in 2017, she dropped 40lbs of weight as her symptoms intensified.
She explained: "I lost 40 pounds in a year.
"I was so fatigued in my body, I wasn't able to concentrate, I thought I had ADHD and my mood swings were outrageous.
"My doctor sent me to a psychiatrist who said I had bipolar tendencies. I would have extreme lows and manic highs. I had brain fog and insomnia.
"My muscles were in so much pain that I lived on a heating pad for months.
"I would be extremely cold, sitting in my house in August with a coat, gloves and a beanie on, but then I'd have a hot flush and I would be dripping in sweat.
"I developed dry patches of skin on my legs that made me look like I had alligator or snake skin.
"There were stabbing pains in my chest and ringing in my ears."
She shed 40lbs and cut off her hair because of her symptoms. Credit: SWNS
Despite these and several other symptoms, doctors could not find anything wrong with her. Convinced that her issues were down to the breast implants, Erika paid to have them removed.
No sooner had she done that, she started to feel better. Initially, she thought it was the pain medication she'd been given, but after two months, she was back to normal.
Thankfully, she's on the mend now. Credit: SWNS
Dr Diana Zuckerman, from the National Center for Health Research in Washington D.C. said that just because this illness isn't recognised, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
She said: "When there's a new pattern of a group of symptoms that seem to all cluster together for a group of people it often takes a long time until the medical community accepts that it is a real thing,
"We certainly have seen and talked to many women who have experienced this cluster of symptoms that are referred to as breast implant illness.
"What they have in common is that they are symptoms that could be caused by their immune system going out of whack.
"Many of the symptoms that these women talk about - joint pain, mental confusion, hair falling out - are very typical of certain autoimmune diseases.
"It is possible that these conditions are caused by breast implants."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS