Livewire - January 25, 2012

Plastic surgeon Denis Boucq holds a defective silicone gel breast implant, which was removed from a patient and manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), in Nice, south eastern France, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. French medical device regulatory authority (AFSSAPS) recalled PIP breast implants in March 2010 after it concluded that their performance and safety were not in accordance with current standards.(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Plastic surgeon Denis Boucq holds a defective silicone gel breast implant, which was removed from a patient and manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), in Nice, south eastern France, Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. French medical device regulatory authority (AFSSAPS) recalled PIP breast implants in March 2010 after it concluded that their performance and safety were not in accordance with current standards.(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

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By Brenda-Jane Robinson of Fleetwood

I AM 78 years old and a great-grandmother in fairly good health bar the usual problems associated with age.

I had a breast implant in my 50s, more than two decades after having a mastectomy.

I was a young woman when I had cancer, and it wasn’t routine to offer cosmetic surgery then.

I settled for a prosthesis for many years which was acceptable, but not nice if I wanted to wear a frock with a lower neckline, or a swimsuit while on holiday with my family.

In later years I suffered backache because the weight was imbalanced after the surgery for cancer.

I will always be grateful to the surgeons for saving my life, and I will always be grateful to the cosmetic surgeon who finally made me feel whole again. I am still sensitive about how I look, which is why I hardly ever have my photograph taken, and do not want it in the paper.

But I would like to get my views across to other ladies out there, because they may be scared right now, and I would like to tell them not to worry too much.

I am saying all this for one reason. I did not have one of the controversial PIP implants – made in France – which have reportedly ruptured and leaked silicone. But the company which supplied my implant all those years was American – and later called to account by women for leaking implants. It was a very similar situation to today.

Here in Britain, solicitors contacted women like myself, and asked if we wanted to take legal action, but also said the money we might get would be peanuts compared with the Yanks. Typical. It wasn’t worth the bother.

There was lots of publicity at the time. I remember being very frightened. In America, women who had been given implants supplied by exactly the same company as the one my surgeon used were suing for lots of money, and being paid compensation.

That didn’t bother me. The thought of the implant leaking silicone into my system did.

I began to attribute every vague ache or pain to that, and the NHS didn’t help much. My surgeon had retired. year or two ago, I finally had a scan, which showed the implant was perfectly fine. I had been worrying for nothing.

I gather that very few of the French PIP implants have ruptured, so I would advise women not to panic, but report concern to their doctors, as they have the means of checking.

Don’t be afraid. I was – and I’m still going strong.