A French woman, Emmanuelle Maria complained that her breasts were burning and globules of silicone gel were protruding into her armpits. During this period, her breast implants had exploded inside her. Yet her doctors, she said, told her nothing was wrong.
But now, she wants the French government to tell 30,000 women, who wear breast implants, to have them removed – at the state’s expense – so as to bring to their attention the risks and save others from potential pain and indignity.
Implant wearers, leading doctors and the French health authorities are planning a drastic and unprecedented move. Mass surgery has been recommended to rid the country of a type of breast implant that investigators say was made secretly with cheap industrial silicone, whose medical dangers are still unclear.
European governments are waiting on France’s decision (friday). Thousands of women in Britain, Italy, Spain and other countries walk around with the same type of implants, made by the now-defunct French company, Poly Implant Prothese or PIP.
The main fear in France is the risk of rupture. More than 1,000 of the 30,000 such implants in France have burst, according to the French health safety agency, and the risk of what the industrial silicone gel could pose when it leaks inside the body were unknown.
However, eight cases of cancer among women with the implants, including one who died in November, have cause heightened pressure on the govt., to take action.
The implants in question were not sold in the U.S., where fear about silicone gel implants led to a 14-year ban on their use. But it was brought back in 2006 after research ruled out cancer and lupus fears.
In Britain, a law firm said it is acting for over 250 women with PIP implants who are trying to sue clinics that provided the surgery.
Plastic surgeon Maurice Mimoun of Paris’ Saint Louis Hospital said a silicone gel leak internally, could in turn require surgery on other body parts for removal.
“The problem is that these implants are made an unknown gel”, he said. “Once these implants are removed, the story is not over… We still don’t know what the side-effects might be”.
The company responsible has suspended its activities. Its phones are no longer functioning and emails sent to its staffs were not replied.
Maria who described wanting new breasts to improve her self-image after an adolescence troubled by a bone disease left her covered in scars.
Tina, a retired French woman had her implants removed early this year, said she did’nt experience any pain when they ruptured, but said she is now worried about what might have leaked into her body. “Its time surgeons admitted that these implants pose special risks. What we need is a bit of humanity”, she said. During the interview she did’nt want her last name mentioned, because some people in her entourage do not know that she had her breast augmented.