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


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

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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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I'm really proud of my mum for doing this. As I agree with some of your comments, my mum didn't use my dads money for her implants she done it all of her own back! &as for the nasty comments about 'parenting skills' my mum would never do something at put me in any kind of risk, and she is best mum ever. it's not her that put herself in this debt' it's the French manifactures that has done this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I think the lack of sympathy shown to these women is a disgrace. How many smokers will burden the nhs? how many obese? how many of the previous commentators here fall into these categories? and how many of you will expect the nhs to help you - even though you have inflicted this upon yourselves?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The MRHA is the government regulatory body that is supposed to ensure that all medical devises are safe, the goverenment has failed to protect these vulnerable women and therefore they should pay. For most women it was insecurity not vanity that lead them to having implants & for many it was not a case of having bigger breasts but often to diminish lopsided ones after child birth & breastfeeding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    A sad result of male oppression.Men dont want real women-they want a Cindy doll.If you don't conform to the ideal(maybe because your chest is a tiny bit uneven or flat) you are worthless.This is not vanity it is being realistic about the social contract between men and women.It was ever thus..

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    @Cjlhdevil how do you know she has a kid? You are very holier-than-thou.
    In fact that goes for many comments here. People can do what they want with their bodies. It is usually ugly people who resent others 'breaking ranks' and trying to look better.
    We are hard-wired to be obsessed with appearance. It's natural, and most other animals are also like this.
    Get over it.


Comments 5 of 74



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