Protests in Paris over cost-cutting breast implant scandal
Summary of story from The Guardian, December 14, 2011
Yesterday saw the first street demonstrations by victims of France’s most shocking cosmetic surgery scandal in years.
Thousands of women have been given cheap breast implants, made not from medical-grade but industrial silicone, in a cost-saving measure taken by surgery company Poly Implant Prosthetics (PIP).
The industrial silicone is usually used for computer parts and in the electronics industry. In addition, the casing around this industrial implant was found to be faulty, with a tendency to rupture and cause leakage.
Women in the UK and Spain could also have been affected by the scandal, which saw operations using the faulty silicone carried out over a ten year period. It has been estimated that as many as 30,000 women could be at risk.
Those at the protest outside France’s Health Ministry in Paris voiced the opinion that the state has not done enough.
One woman at the demonstration was a factory worker who had suffered for years with depression and body confidence issues before getting breast implants. She described feeling as though she has a “ticking bomb” inside her.
Many of the women involved are on low incomes and are struggling to afford removal operations. Some had the implants after treatment for breast cancer. Most talk of being dismissed as “bimbos” and not taken seriously.
A recent study found that French women, despite being the slimmest in Western Europe, have the most negative view of their bodies. Around 21,000 breast augmentations are carried out every year in the country.
It has been estimated that PIP saved around €1bn (£840m) through use of the faulty silicone. The company has now closed and more than 2,000 women have filed lawsuits.
An investigation into involuntary homicide has also begun after a woman died from cancer, although no clear link between cancer and the implants has yet been identified.