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Women Face Unjust Consequences from Defective Breast Implants

Everyone has different opinions on cosmetic surgery. Some find it to be vain and unnecessary, while others may see it as empowering. Nevertheless, going under the knife to change one’s physical appearance is not cheap or painless.

In 2012, close to 50,000 British women were given ill-fitting French breast implants. The implants, made by Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), were found to be prone to rupturing twice as often as other implants, and were made with the silicone used in mattresses. As many as 300,000 women may have been affected. Needless to say, these women did not get their money’s worth.

Samantha Turner is one of the women affected by this gross oversight. She underwent the surgery when she was 25 and has had to have five additional operations since then, due to complications resulting from the initial surgery. “The poison that was put into my body has wreaked havoc. I was feeling sick and in pain, yet no one could identify what was wrong with me,” she says.

The broken implants caused her to believe she had cancer after they leaked into her lymph nodes. She now has a blood clot and nerve damage that impacts her life every single day. Despite being a victim of a neglectful practice, Turner feels that she is still looked down upon due to the taboo nature of breast implants. She says, “it feels like, because we are women and we’ve done something to our bodies to make us feel more confident, it’s getting brushed to one side – like it’s our fault for getting it done in the first place. But these clinics were inserting medical devices into women that were substandard and faulty.”

33-year-old Michele Nethercott received breast augmentation surgery at 20-years-old, after experiencing some disfiguration from breastfeeding her son. The clinic she went to never informed her about the dangers of the implants. The cost of removal is about £8,000, and isn’t covered by the NHS until there is some kind of rupture. “I sometimes want to cut my chest open to remove these ticking time bombs, but then anxiety sinks in about what I will look like without them,” she says. It is not just the physical pain and the financial burden that is worrisome, but these women’s emotional state is also another huge concern.

Turner also says, “of course it would be nice if they could compensate me for what I paid initially, the other operations I had to have and the mental anguish. But, ultimately, what I want is to get recognition from society that says: ‘Yes, you have been part of one of the world’s biggest medical scandals.’”

Since the story broke, these women have formed various groups and forums that are seeking justice and recompense. They have won their lawsuit, but are doubtful that they will receive much in the way of money. While Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP, was forced to apologize and sentenced to four years in prison, none of the independent cosmetic clinics have issued any sort of public apology.

Featured Image by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet on Flickr
Public Domain Mark 1.0

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