My £3,500 breast implants ruptured after 25 YEARS inside me: Mother left in agony, 49, had to pay £11,000 for private surgery after being told she faced a year-long wait for NHS to remove illegal inserts

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Beth Hewson suffered a ‘stabbing pain’ in her left breast when it ruptured
  • The French-made products given to roughly 50,000 Brits were banned in 2010  

A mother whose faulty breast implant suddenly ruptured was forced to pay £11,000 for private surgery after facing a year-long NHS wait.

Beth Hewson, from York, paid £3,500 for a boob job in 1999 and was fitted with Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) implants at a private clinic in Manchester. 

The 49-year-old was left with an agonising ‘stabbing pain’ in her left breast last year when one split. Following a breast cancer scare, her GP confirmed it had leaked into her body. 

The products by French-firm PIP — given to roughly 50,000 British women — were banned in 2010 after they were discovered to have been fraudulently manufactured to contain cheap industrial-grade silicon intended for mattresses. Data also showed they were up to six times more likely to rupture.

Ms Hewson’s clinic, however, refused to remove them following the emergence of the scandal. 

Beth Hewson, from York, paid £3,500 for a boob job in 1999 and was fitted with Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) implants at a private clinic in Manchester. The 49-year-old was left with an agonising ‘stabbing pain’ in her left breast last year when one split. Following a breast cancer scare, her GP confirmed it had leaked into her body

Ms Hewson, an NHS worker at York Hospital, said she felt she had no choice but to opt for private treatment when faced with the lengthy wait

Ms Hewson, an NHS worker at York Hospital, said she felt she had no choice but to opt for private treatment when faced with the lengthy wait

The Department of Health has long said there was no evidence to suggest ruptured PIP implants were toxic, and it did not believe they were a threat to the long-term health of women. Pictured, Ms Hewson's ruptured PIP implant

But, more than a decade on, victims of the scandal have reported a wide range of serious side effects, including a 'horrible burning sensation' in their chest. Pictured, her second PIP implant

The Department of Health has long said there was no evidence to suggest ruptured PIP implants were toxic, and it did not believe they were a threat to the long-term health of women. But, more than a decade on, victims of the scandal have reported a wide range of serious side effects, including a ‘horrible burning sensation’ in their chest. Pictured left, Ms Hewson’s ruptured PIP implant. Pictured right, her second PIP implant

And when one implant eventually ruptured, she was told there was a 12-month wait for corrective surgery on the NHS. 

The Department of Health has long said there was no evidence to suggest ruptured PIP implants were toxic, and it did not believe they were a threat to the long-term health of women.

The NHS also states there is no evidence to suggest that burst PIP breast implants lead to ‘serious health risks’ for those affected. 

But, more than a decade on, victims of the scandal have reported a wide range of serious side effects, including a ‘horrible burning sensation’ in their chest. 

Others, given the implants after a mastectomy, have complained of aching joints, pain and fatigue.

WHAT WAS THE PIP SCANDAL? 

French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which is now out of business, was found to have made silicon breast implants using silicon intended for mattresses, not for medical use.

PIP implants were withdrawn from use in the UK in 2010, but by it is estimated 47,000 woman had the implants before this happened. 

20,000 women sued the company responsible for testing the implants – TUV Rheinland – and were awarded £2,600 each.

PIP implants are not though to pose any serious health risk, but are two to six times more likely to rupture.

If they rupture they should be removed because they can become misshapen and cause pain, swelling and enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit.

The NHS does not recommend women having PIP implants removed unless they are problematic – women can discuss the implants with their surgeon if they are concerned.

Most PIP implants were used in private clinics and hospitals, but a small number were given in NHS operations for women who had breast cancer surgery.

Source: NHS 

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Experts saying PIP implants are linked to a raft of health problems including cancer.

Campaigners say it has left affected women ‘suffering and dying in silence’. PIP was liquidated in 2010.

In 2010, the French government also recommended removing the implants after finding a rupture rate of five per cent. 

Ms Hewson, an NHS worker at York Hospital, said she felt she had no choice but to opt for private treatment when faced with the lengthy wait.

She said: ‘It was just like a stabbing pain all the time. It has been awful. I’ve been off work for six months.

‘I couldn’t lie on my side. I couldn’t bend over. I couldn’t lift or take anything off the shelves. It was really debilitating.

‘I was constantly holding my hand under my boob, just gripping on my rib cage.’

She added: ‘In the middle of last year, they did a mammogram, and that’s when they said it had ruptured.

‘When I found out I was in an absolute panic.

‘Then they said I needed it removed, but it would take 12 months on the NHS waiting list. Usually, they are dealing with cancer patients first.

‘But I did not know when I would be seen, the waiting lists are that long at the moment. 

‘It could have been 12 months — but it could be 15 months or two years.

‘I had to borrow money from family [for the private surgery]. It’s something I had to do. The risks were too high for me.’

PIP’s founder, Jean-Claude Mas, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud in 2013. He died in April 2019, aged 79. 

Ms Hewson has now called for further public inquiries and studies into the possible long-term health effects of PIP silicon on those who have suffered ruptures

Ms Hewson has now called for further public inquiries and studies into the possible long-term health effects of PIP silicon on those who have suffered ruptures

The scandal is thought to have affected around 300,000 women in as many as 65 countries. 

After the scandal emerged, Ms Hewson, who decided to have implants after breast feeding her daughter, contacted the private clinic who carried out the procedure, Transform Healthcare. 

But it refused to remove the implants for free, claiming that expert advice ‘did not recommend’ their routine removal. The NHS still says the implants don’t necessarily need to be removed.

Ms Hewson has now called for further public inquiries and studies into the possible long-term health effects of PIP silicon on those who have suffered ruptures.

In 2021, a Paris appeals court ruled thousands of victims of the scandal, including 540 British women, would receive compensation.

The case in Paris was brought by 2,700 women who said they had suffered long-term health effects. 

She said: ‘Somebody has to take accountability.

‘There are 45,000 other women still affected by it. A lot of the French women were compensated. But here, it just seems everybody swept it under the carpet.’

From 2025, the UK government says clinicians must give patients an implant card with information about any necessary warnings, precautions or measures.

A spokesperson for Transform Healthcare, said: ‘Transform Healthcare followed the independent expert advice to the industry at the time, which did not recommend the routine removal of PIP breast implants.’

SOURCE

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