Danica Patrick is a confident racer who rarely thinks about how she compares to others. But in November 2014, the former NASCAR driver decided to get breast implants on her own to try to get “an ideal body.”
Within a few years, Patrick started to feel tired, gain weight, and lose hair. This led to him being diagnosed with Breast Implant Illness or BII. She got rid of her breast implants in March 2022, and now she loves to look at herself in the mirror.
“I like how much better I look after,” Patrick, who is 40, tells PEOPLE. “There you have it.” In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Patrick talks about her five-year health battle and how she is still getting better after having an implant taken out.
“I think my body is still healing,” says Patrick, whose businesses include selling wines and candles and working as a broadcaster for NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula One. “About six months have gone by since the implants were taken out.
It’s about how you live and think, and just giving your body time to heal.” Even though Patrick has made a career out of moving quickly, the business owner knows that right now, being patient is the most important thing.
Patrick says, “I actually think it’s smarter for me to give myself a good year or two to see where I end up after giving my body and mind time to get healthy, balanced, and back to normal after all the time it spent fighting for me.”
“And it worked really, really, really well. Now it’s up to me to fight back by being smart and kind to myself.” Patrick has been taking care of her body and being smart in a lot of different ways over the past few months.
“My body is still really getting better,” she says. “I’m trying to be careful with my workouts by walking more and doing less high-intensity exercises. So the majority of it is really just lifting and walking.”
And while her full recovery may take a few years, Patrick says that the first part of her recovery after her surgery in March 2022 was “insanely easy.”
“My surgery was at 2:30 in the afternoon, so I was home around 5,” says Patrick, whose mother Beverly was there to help on the day of her daughter’s surgery but didn’t have to do much.
“After that, I took a pain pill before bed and maybe another one in the morning, but other than that, I only took two more Tylenol.” And since her breast implants were not very big, Patrick says that she hasn’t had to change her wardrobe much since they were taken out.
She says, “I didn’t even have to buy anything new.” “Everything was the same, from sports bras to dresses to swimsuits.” Only Patrick’s taste in clothes has changed.
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“You can wear more revealing clothes because, you know, having your breasts out there isn’t as provocative,” she says. Patrick laughs at the thought, but she also says that there are some things she wishes she had known when she was in her twenties that would have made her think twice about getting breast implants.
Patrick says, “The work is to love yourself just as you are and not give in to the idea of perfection.” “I think the idea of perfection is a very dangerous goal in and of itself.”
In fact, Patrick’s decision to get rid of her breast implants has changed her in many ways, including how she sees her personal and professional life going forward.
“The best thing I can do in my life that will make me the happiest is to just go after all the things that make me happy,” she says. “And when I do that, my life opens up in really beautiful and exciting ways.”