Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: A breast implant horror story ... and a leeson for us all
his is a horror story, a real one, and it's only just begun. In France, more than 30,000 women have discovered that their breast implants are made of industrial-grade silicone. A French company manufactures these "economy" alternatives to the more expensive inserts. As this paper reported yesterday, this silicone is also used for mattresses. Women, mattresses, what's the difference? And, anyway, you get what you pay for. Business can't be expected to consider ethics when it goes after profits. Or so it believes.
This product, which often ruptures, allegedly triggers chronic illnesses and, it is feared, may have links to cancer. The French government has decided to pay for the removal of these suspect implants, while here regulators dither and politicians ignore the perils.
Their removal will require further surgery and cost money. I feel angry on behalf of all the unfortunate women, particularly those who had the insertions as part of reconstructive surgery after cancer. But there is exasperation, too, that so many choose to have "breast enhancement" for no good reason at all. One plastic surgeon tells me that he will be doing these boob jobs well into April because so many have chosen the op as a Christmas present from their husbands, lovers and even dads.