Only a little more than two and a half years ago, I had a normal life, and I was completely happy and healthy. I had been a straight-A college student, graduating with high honors, I had a career in management, I had found the man of my dreams, married him, and had children. I had enjoyed tremendously robust health my entire life. I was full of energy, and frequently was up doing chores or reading my favorite books, long after the others in my family had gone to bed. I hadn’t missed a day of work due to illness for over 10 years.
While others around me suffered from colds and flu, I never did. However, shortly after getting saline implants by McGhan, my life was turned upside down as my health was completely destroyed. I have spent the last 2 years of my life struggling to regain that precious health. The most important step I took was to get my saline implants taken out.
My highly respected plastic surgeon had told me that my implants would go with me to the grave and last me a lifetime. He never told me that I was risking the integrity of my central nervous system, or the functioning of my brain. He never discussed the seriousness of autoimmune diseases, or the fact that they are incurable. When I asked him if anyone ever got their implants out and why, he stated simply, because “they don’t like them”, which I now see as an evasive response. I understood that there were some risks with infection, hematoma or rupture, but I was told these were minor risks that I could handle.
However, I was wrong. The risks were much greater than he lead me to believe. My world crashed in January 1998, only eight months after getting my saline implants. My vision became disturbed. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I would read, and not retain anything. I was extremely tired, but sleep never refreshed me. Mentally, I was laboring. My head was in a fog all the time. I was dizzy. I could barely care for my kids or my house. I had night sweats and sleep disturbances. I often bumped into walls. My hands were always cold. I had heart palpitations and muscle twitching, joint pain and tingling hands. I had never felt so sick in all my life.
Blood tests from a rheumatologist showed an autoimmune response as evidenced by an elevated rheumatoid factor, as well as a lowered C3 Complement, and macrocytosis. However, the rheumatologist was unable to come up with any diagnosis for me.
There is no doubt that the implants were harming me in a terrible, terrible way. It has now been 2 years since I was explanted, and I am almost fully back to normal, thanks to God. Almost every single one of my symptoms of illness have disappeared. I still suffer from occasional brain fog, but in light of how sick I was then, and how well I am now, I consider myself very, very fortunate.
My experiences should never, ever be considered “acceptable risks” in the evaluation of these unnecessary medical devices. My breast implant experience was the worst nightmare of my life. Ask my parents if the risks were acceptable: They had to drive over 2000 miles to come and take care of me. Ask my husband if the risks were acceptable: He had to pay thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills, and lost me as a supporting partner in our family. He had to bear the burdens alone. Ask my children if the risks were acceptable–they lost their smiling, nurturing mother, and instead were left with a sick woman who couldn’t play with them anymore, cook their favorite dinners, bake them cookies, take them shopping, or go to the movies. Ask me, and I will ask you if you would be willing to let your wife or daughter, sister or other loved one suffer from destroyed health, loss of career, loss of income, emotional distress, financial distress and medical system abuse all for the sake of breast implants. Only heartless fools would dare to call these risks “acceptable.”
You are mistaken if you think that women will be able to correctly evaluate the risks, and make informed decisions about getting breast implants. You will not be able to give them the information they need, until long-term studies are done to determine how many women become ill, and which women are most vulnerable. That research has not yet been done, and the manufacturers’ research has not answered those questions.
I do not consider what little information my plastic surgeon gave me nearly enough to indicate “informed consent” in any way. If he had told me that there were neurological risks, there would have been no way that I would have gotten the implants. Nowhere in my research about implants was there any indication of the risks I experienced. It was only after I became ill that my plastic surgeon told me to get the FDA booklet on breast implants. Prior to that, I did not know it even existed. I was told by every plastic surgeon that I talked to that saline implants were FDA-approved.
Two weeks ago my stepdaughter asked my husband and I for $6000 for breast implants, and informed us that she knew all the risks. When I asked her to tell me what the doctor had told her, she mentioned infection, hematoma, rupture, and future surgery. She did not know the meaning of capsular contracture and had never heard of autoimmune diseases.
She was not fully informed. She is now, and she chose NOT to get implants.
There is no such thing as a safe breast implant. Not only are they not life-saving devices and totally unnecessary, they are dangerous to health and well-being. Studies are needed to objectively measure how many women have experiences like mine. If, after long-term research is completed, the FDA determines that there are some kinds of saline implants that are safe for most women, FDA should require mandatory disclosures of the kind of ill effects many women have experienced as a result of these implants, and warn them of the very serious nature of these problems. This should include the opportunity to meet or read stories of other women harmed by implants such as myself, and their loss of jobs, career, income, home, family and well-being, including life.
Ms. Faussett made the above statement before the FDA Advisory Panel in March 2000.