PIP - one woman's story of replacing her leaking implants


Debbie Lewis has paid over £6,000 to have her burst PIP implants replaced

Related Stories

There are 40,000 individual stories from the women in Britain with PIP implants.

Debbie Lewis is one of them and she agreed to let us film her replacement surgery.

The 43-year-old hairdresser from Buckinghamshire decided to have implants about eight years when she and her husband separated.

She said: "I always wanted bigger boobs and when we separated I thought I'm going to treat myself."

The original surgery cost her £4,000 and within a year or so she'd had the implants changed twice.

This was because she experienced a known side-effect called 'capsular contraction', when the tissue around the implant hardens causing discomfort and distortion.

In November 2011 Debbie noticed a lump under her arm. She was told one of her implants had leaked into a lymph node.

Soon afterwards the PIP scandal erupted, with the French Government recommending all women there to have them removed.

Debbie says she could have opted to have her implants removed under the NHS -but it would have taken too long to organise.

She also said that she has lost so much breast tissue from previous implant replacement that she felt she had no option but to have new implants.

Her surgery cost £6,000 and she is not sure how she will pay for it.

"I have taken out two credit cards and I will have to worry about that later - what was crucial for me was to get these disgusting things out of me."

Her operation lasted one and a half hours. The swollen lymph nodes were removed and then the ruptured implant was taken out. Cosmetic surgeon, David Crawford said: "The implant shell looked like a thin beach ball. It was not a good quality product."

The silicone filler from the ruptured implant had turned yellow and begun to break up. By contrast the second implant emerged intact and undamaged. This underlines the dilemma facing women.

If scans suggest their implants are intact, should they opt for surgery? This is what's recommended by the French government, as a precaution. But a committee of experts here has suggested there is no need for routine removal

Debbie Lewis says she accepts that many people will have little sympathy for women who had PIP implants for breast enlargement - just one in 20 patients in Britain had the implants for reconstructive surgery following cancer.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has called for a ban on advertising for cosmetic surgery and said that it preyed on women in a vulnerable state, such as following a divorce.

"Rubbish" is Debbie Lewis' response. Despite all the problems she does not regret having surgery. "They've given me a lot of pleasure and self-confidence, for example going on the beach in my bikini."

She says she is looking forward to life without PIP implants and will now campaign to highlight the plight of women affected by the scandal.

Debbie Lewis goes through surgery to remove her faulty PIP implants

Fergus Walsh Article written by Fergus Walsh Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

Ebola trial suggests vaccine is safe

The first results of an experimental Ebola vaccine being tested in Oxford suggest it is safe.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    'Debbie' you wanted this silly, pointless cosmetic surgery for your own vanity. Your choice. They go wrong? Your problem. Could have waited to have them removed by the NHS? Why should I pay for your selfish vanity? You made the decision, you take the risk. You want the publicity? dont expect sympathy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I am inclined to agree with shendor - I often go to Have Your Say only to find that there are a few lightweight or obscure news items open for discussion and not the really important or consequential items that are crying out to receive comment! Here there is also the unpleasant suspicion the someone at the Beeb is seeking to open the floodgates to misogynist 'comment'...

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    "Debbie says she could have opted to have her implants removed under the NHS -but it would have taken too long to organise."

    Good - no way should the tax payer foot the bill for her vanity

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Gotta love this article...actually I,m a 50 year old guy and I think maybe I need a 4grand operation to enhance my testicles. it will give me much pleasure and I will feel far more confident on the beach in my budgie smugglers.....heheheh

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    It should be the law that cosmetic surgeons have to sell insurance cover with every one of their silly operations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Can't understand why some women have these things put in for purely cosmetic reasons. I might be wrong but us males aren't as shallow as all that. Natural for me anyday. Not that I look at many of course (just in case the wife reads this)

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    What gets me most about this whole affair is that these implants were meant to have a lifespan of about 10 years, so hers were nearing their sellby date. Had she made any provision to have something done in about 2 years time? Anyone getting implants with a limited shelflife without a good reason (i.e. reconstructive surgery) should have to deposit the cost of removing them before they get put in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    All I hear is

    "Me, Me, Me, I'm vain and wanted bigger boobs but my husband said no, so once we were divorced I used his money to buy the bigger boobs I wanted. Now his money has run out I want somebody else to buy me some bigger boobs, poor me why should I have to pay for my own choices"

    You want them, then you pay for them yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Whilst health issues for any person deserve sympathy, I fear this is yet another example of people no longer accepting personal responsibility for their actions. Yes, they were not to know they were faulty, but to expect them to be replaced on the NHS is tantamount to expecting the NHS to pay for cosmetic impacts in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just as tragic as the PIP scandal is the fact that so many tens of thousands of normal, healthy women felt the need to have this kind of "treatment" in the first place.

    However has it come to be that balloons of silicone inserted under the skin via (not insignificant) surgery has become a desirable choice?

    What an indictment of a shallow, appearance-obsessed society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    As bad as i feel for women who are worried about their implants rupturing it was their decision in the first place and all surgical operations carry an element of risk. In medical situations advantages normally outweigh the perceived risks however in the case of implants for personal vanity the only advantage is bigger breasts. Therefore if women want to have them removed it should be privately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Why is THIS article editorially decided to be open to comments when there are far more important and deep articles on today's BBC news site that you DON'T grant responses to?
    Come on...

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Dynamite parenting skills on show here. Marriage breaks down, kid to look after, best idea is to go save money and use credit cards to buy a new pair of breasts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This will probably mean I get "Hate Mail", I can understand why she wanted her operation the first time, but be realistic, the marriage had broken down, she knew she was going to be a single parent, so why put herself in so much debt in the first place! then to complain about it 8 years later when the NHS said they would remove them but not replace them. Is vanity more important health.


Page 4 of 4



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.