Dream of fuller bosoms ends in heartache in France
By Clare Byrne Jan 5, 2012, 16:52 GMT
Paris - The yearning for fuller bosoms that has driven around 10 million women worldwide to obtain breast implants has caused heartbreak in France, where 30,000 women have been advised by the state to have their tainted implants removed.
Internet forums have been flooded with frantic questions from women with the implants manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese, seeking advice on whether and where to have them 'explanted.'
'I'm a wearer of PIP implants. Normally I never look at TV, much less the news. But by chance I made an exception this evening and I was extremely shocked by what I saw and heard about PIP implants,' one woman who identified herself as Wendy wrote on a forum set up by PPP Association, a group representing women who are taking legal action against the company.
'I'm in a panic and am asking myself what to do and how to do it, including financially,' Wendy admitted.
The implant scandal exploded in December after a French woman with the implants died from a rare form of lymphoma.
The woman's death triggered furious speculation about a possible cancer threat from the implants, which had already been banned in France in 2010 after investigators found the manufacturer had been using a cheap industrial-grade silicone.
Health authorities in France, Britain and other countries say there is no evidence the implants increase the risk of cancer.
But French authorities say they do carry an unacceptably high risk of rupture - about 5.5 per cent - which can cause the gel to leak into body tissue and in turn cause inflammation. Some 495 cases of inflammation have been recorded among PIP wearers in France.
Faced with an outbreak of panic, the government in December offered to foot the cost of having the implants removed - it will not however cover the cost of new implants for women who received the implants for cosmetic reasons.
The state has estimated the cost of removing the implants at 2,000 euros.
Several of the women who posted on the PPP website were grappling with whether to fork out again for new implants, take their chance with the PIP implants or settle for their original silhouette.
'I don't want to return to the way I was before. The memories are too difficult,' the woman who gave her name as Wendy confessed.
'I had those shitty things taken out in May 2011 for 750 euros and since then, pure happiness,' one woman posted on the PPP Association forum.
The affair has shone a light on the lack of regulation in the industry for medical devices.
Unlike drugs, devices such as breast implants or pacemakers do not have to go through stringent licensing procedures before they hit the market.
In Europe such devices can be sold once they have CE certification, a basic form of labelling issued by 70 agencies accredited by national authorities.
Companies seeking the CE label merely have to submit a dossier to the agency. The product itself is not tested. The German company that certified the PIP implant claimed it had been deceived by the company about what grade of silicone it was using.
France's Health Minister Xavier Bertrand has called for more stringent EU regulations for implants.
'A simple label does not suffice,' he said Thursday.
Meanwhile, outside of France, where 90 per cent of the implants were sold, many governments are holding off on a blanket recall, partly for fear of being criticized for covering risks incurred during cosmetic surgery.
Britain and Australia say the rupture rate of PIP implants in those countries are on a par with that seen among other implants and do not warrant universal removal.
Their assurances have failed to ease the concerns of some of their nationals, who have come to dread what some have described as 'time bombs' in their chests.
Writing on the website of Britain's Daily Mail tabloid on Thursday, one woman rued how 'having had cancer once and wanting to look 'normal' I opted for an implant.'
'OMG (Oh my God) I wish I hadn't, I have added more risks into my body,' she lamented.