Tag Archives: Implants

Teens’ Cosmetic Dreams Don’t Always Come True

Robert Davis, USA TODAY: July 28, 2004.

As a kid, Kacey Long would escape her hometown of Ennis, Texas, by imagining herself as a professional businesswoman. […]

At 19, Long decided to get breast implants. “I was all about doing anything I could to improve myself,” she says. […]

In 2003, almost 336,000 teens 18 or younger had some kind of cosmetic surgery or procedure, a 50% increase over 2002.

Patient-safety advocates believe that many of the teens having surgery are unnecessarily putting themselves at risk of injury or even death. Teens face different obstacles in making a decision like this, experts say. They are often insecure and naive about medical risks. And they literally are not always finished growing up.

Plastic surgery, like any surgery, can go wrong, as it did for Long. […]

Although research has not proved that implants can cause serious diseases, Long says she has been diagnosed with systemic silicone poisoning from the shells surrounding the saline implants, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. […]

Nobody tracks deaths or injuries caused by plastic surgery, but one study found that one in 50,000 liposuction surgery patients die. […]

“The big problem with adolescents is they are being operated on at the most tumultuous time in their bodies. They may not recognize the permanence of what they’re doing,” says David Sarwer, a psychologist at the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. […]

“You’re not going to have too many plastic surgeons saying you don’t really need this,” says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families. “Once you get in the door, of course, the doctors are saying everything they can to persuade you to have surgery.”

Zuckerman wants rules to protect girls from plastic surgery.

“Breast implants are not approved for anyone under 18, but any doctor can perform the surgery legally,” she says. “I’d like to see the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have a policy saying we think our doctors shouldn’t do this on anyone under 18.”

Experts disagree on whether teens are too young for surgeries such as breast augmentation.

Zuckerman says girls should be encouraged to develop more before having surgery. “A lot of teens gain weight during their freshman year in college,” she says. “If they had just waited a few years, they might have been less flat-chested.[…]

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Popularity of Breast Implants Rising

Marc Kaufman, Washington Post: September 22, 2002.

Jennifer Moore had been “very, very conscious” of her bust size for years, and this summer the 24-year-old decided to do something about it. It cost her $6,000 and a few days of pain and swelling, but the woman who was a 32A is now a 34C, thanks to her new breast implants.

“I just love how it looks, and my boyfriend really does, too,” said Moore, a sales clerk from Frederick. “My mom said that if she was my age again, she’d do it, too.” […]

At first slowly, and now quite eagerly, many American women have turned to the saltwater-filled alternative to silicone implants. The two breast implant manufacturers in the United States recently reported record sales and profits for their spring quarters, and cosmetic plastic surgeons say the operation has reached a level of social acceptance unimaginable not many years ago. And not only are more women choosing implants, but they are choosing ever-larger models — from an average of 250 cubic centimeters in the 1980s to about 350 cubic centimeters today.

But some public health advocates and physicians remain alarmed about implants of all types — especially now, with their resurgent popularity. Additional research, they say, has confirmed that planting a device in a woman’s breast can cause serious, predictable and often costly complications, and they say the FDA is not providing American women the information and protection they need.

The most recent data presented to the FDA showed, for instance, that almost one-quarter of all cosmetic saline, or saltwater-filled, breast implants will need to be followed by another operation within five years, and that few implants can be expected to last more than 10 years. Studies have also found significant levels of internal infection, hardening of the tissue around the implanted device and implant leakage and deflation.

“This is a cosmetic operation with serious health consequences, and the FDA is just not treating it with the seriousness it requires,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families and a longtime critic of the breast implant industry. “The benefits are so small compared to the very real risks, so it should be getting more scrutiny, not less.” […]

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All But Forgotten

Tinker Ready, Special to The Los Angeles Times: October 1, 2001.

In the made-for-TV movie about two women who took on Dow Corning Corp. and other medical device makers over the safety of silicone breast implants, the women emerge as winners. In real life, P.J. Brent’s story did not have such a happy ending.

Like the movie heroines, the Atlanta mother of six believed she had been poisoned by leaking implants. […] But a Pennsylvania pediatrician contradicted her, telling the FDA that there is no scientific evidence linking Brent’s implants to her children’s severe leg numbness, rashes and difficulty swallowing.

Brent’s story ended a few months after the FDA hearing. One summer morning, she drove to the top of a five-story parking garage at a shopping mall in suburban Atlanta, climbed over the railing and leaped to her death.

For years, women like Brent who blame breast implants for chronic illnesses had lawyers, activists, journalists and a small but determined group of doctors and scientists to back them up. […]

Then, in the mid-1990s, their cases began to unravel. New research failed to find a connection between their symptoms and their implants. Even as breast implant manufacturers agreed to a record-breaking class-action settlement, prestigious medical journals were publishing studies concluding that women with implants were no more likely to be sick than the rest of us. […]

P.J. Brent’s suicide was not the first among women who believe they are ill from implants, Melvin noted. Women with silicone breast implants are four times more likely to commit suicide than other plastic surgery patients, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute. […]

Stuart Bondurant, the dean emeritus of the University of North Carolina medical school, headed the congressional panel, which was based at the prestigious Institute of Medicine. […] Bondurant’s group issued its report in 1999, concluding that the evidence linking silicone implants to serious illness is “insufficient or flawed.”  […]

The Institute of Medicine report was not intended to be the last word, but many doctors, judges and journalists have interpreted it that way, said Diana Zuckerman, the director of the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families, a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank. As a result, the two reports had “an enormous chilling effect” on both the legal case against implants and the potential for further research, she said.

“It’s a travesty,” said Zuckerman, an epidemiologist and former Capitol Hill aide who organized the first congressional hearing on implant safety. “The women are desperately trying to get someone to help them. They are told it is in their head, and they are treated as if they are just out to get money.”

Zuckerman and others have put their faith in several government studies. One FDA study suggests that women with silicone in their bloodstream may be more vulnerable to health problems, she said. And the first of several NIH studies found that women with implants are more likely than other plastic surgery patients to take their own lives or die from brain tumors and lung cancer. […]

“They feel very invalidated,” she said. “They feel that no one is listening to them.” So they get depressed, only to be told that depression is causing their physical problems, she said. […]

So they turn to each other, mostly through Internet support groups, where they trade stories, find doctors willing to remove implants and vent their anger. Often, it is not enough. “Realistically, what these groups do is provide information and shoulders to cry on, and that’s all they can do,” Zuckerman said. […]

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