Norwich mum tells how both PIP breast implants ruptured
PUBLISHED: 11:27 16 January 2012 | UPDATED: 11:29 16 January 2012
Archant Norfolk Copyright
A Norwich mum-of-two has told how both her PIP implants ruptured, leaving her in pain and with a bill of thousands of pounds.
Debbie Chettleburgh decided to shell out £3,000 for implants in 2006 after losing her figure after having her first child.
The 39-year-old, from Thorpe St Andrew, said: “For 30 years I’d never really had much of a bust but when I had my first child what little I did have just disappeared.
“I just wanted to look like a woman rather than having no bust whatsoever, and I’d had 30 years of gibes about it.
“I wasn’t that I wanted to get glamoured up, just that I wanted to look feminine.”
At her clinic, she was not given a choice of implants, but was reassured that they would be safe.
“There wasn’t a choice of implants, but I was told I would be receiving an implant that would not rupture and in the very small chance that it could rupture, for example in a car accident, that it was made of a kind of Turkish delight texture and the contents would not break away from the implant but stay a one whole unit.”
It was in 2010 that she first noticed something wrong with the breast implants.
“I notived some lumps in my armpit area and my first thought was that it was possibly cancer.
“I went to my GP, who referred me for scans and they then discovered they believed it was silicone which was astounding as from what they told me about the implants I though the silicone would never have moved if they had ruptured.
“Both ruptured and I’m still left with silicone who knows where and it will be a lifelong worry for me.
“No one seems to know what’s inside or what the effects are.”
She returned to the clinic where she had the procedure, where she learnt the implants were made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
The French firm went out of business in 2010 after an official probe revealed it was using a cheaper unapproved industrial-grade silicone in some products.
About 300,000 PIP implants were sold worldwide, more than 40,000 of them in the UK.
On Wednesday the Harley Medical Group - which fitted 13,900 women with the implants between September 2001 and March 2010 - said it would not replace them free of charge.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has said the NHS would pay to remove, but not replace, implants if a private clinic refused or no longer existed.
But speaking in the House of Commons, he said it was not fair for the taxpayer to foot the bill and that if the NHS was forced to remove an implant “the government would pursue private clinics to seek recovery of our costs”.
The scandal has prompted a review of whether tighter regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry is needed and a review into the safety and quality of private clinics offering cosmetic surgery in Britain.
Some of the women who had PIP implants have reported feeling exhausted, tired and unwell, but Debbie, who has a six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, says it can be hard to tell because of the stresses and strains of everyday life.
“Being a full-time mum I’m permanently tired so it’s hard to say. I get pains around the chest area sometimes and you just don’t know.
“It’s sad because a lot of ladies who have got these haven’t got them through sheer vanity. Most I have come across are just normal mums who have done it so they can walk out their front door feeling slightly feminine.
“It’s sad that it has come to this. A lot saved up in the first place for their implants and a lot of ladies don’t have any funds to pay to have them removed.
“I’m just hoping that the government does a bit more to ensure that private clinics do help the ladies out. They are not getting the right information and no one wants to seem to pay for this.”
After being told by her original clinic she could get them removed, at further cost to herself, she sought a second opinion.
She said clinics were trying to blame the manufacturer, saying they had innocently bought the product in good faith.
“But I have heard other surgeons who have never used them because they knew they weren’t a reputable good quality product, so who do we believe?”
“I then thought I would like a second opinion from a different surgeon and I paid myself to have them removed.”
After shelling out another £4,300, Debbie has been reassured that the new implants are safe, but given her previous experience she is still understandably worried.
“I think now, have I been given the correct information again from my new surgeon?
“I’m a single mum with two children and the money I have spent could have gone on a nice holiday for us. But as a single mum my health is the most important thing so that I can look after my children.”