Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The French breast implant scandal
February 18, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

In March 2010, a pair of health inspectors responding to multiple tips paid a three-day visit to the factory headquarters of the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) company, a leading international maker of breast implants. On their second day, the inspectors found something odd: six discarded plastic containers of Silopren, a liquid silicone designed for industrial, not medical use, lined up along the outside wall of the production site. The lead inspector estimated they had contained nearly 9 tons of liquid silicone. It now appears as if between 300,000 and 400,000 women throughout the world may have received potentially toxic, faulty breast implants containing ingredients never clinically tested on humans, manufactured and distributed by a company that knowingly deceived regulators, suppliers, distributors, medical professionals and ultimately, patients. Reuters photographer's Blog: Operating on an implant scandal. (Last link NSFW, graphic images that contain nudity.)

PIP also sold chest and testicle implants for men which used the same non-medical, industrial grade silicone.

Coverage from CNN, The Guardian.

On February 7, 2012, BBC's Newsnight program featured a Q&A between 25 women who had been implanted with PIP breast implants and Anne Milton, a health minister for the UK coalition government. Evidence had apparently been available that PIP implants were likely defective for several years, yet the NHS had chosen not to inform patients of potential warnings. Milton stated, "The evidence to date is that they [PIP implants] are not [dangerous]." Response editorial by Naomi Wolf. There have been multiple demonstrations in London.

Wikipedia's page on the company has a decent breakdown of the continuing aftermath of the scandal.
posted by zarq (58 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, there's going to be a lot of happy lawyers thanks to this.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:22 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


A rare occasion where the US was ahead of the curve and on the side of the angels, having banned use of silicone implants, even if they had the right kind of silicone, in 2000.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well that's not good.

(Also, today I learned that testicle implants are a thing.)
posted by jcreigh at 7:29 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


jcreigh: " (Also, today I learned that testicle implants are a thing.)"

Yeah, they've been around for over 50 or 60 years. Used to correct congenital defects or loss due to accidents or a disease like cancer.

My wife informs me that there was a Sex and the City plotline about it.
posted by zarq at 7:31 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess the really far-fetched part of science fiction with lots of body augmentations is that those augmentations actually work. (Except in Johnny Mnemomnic. Yes, I've seen Johnny Mnemonic. No, I'm not happy Johnny Mnemomnic was prescient.)
posted by serif at 7:34 PM on February 18, 2012


@oneswellfoop Why is that a good thing? Silicone is pretty good for biocompatibility if I understand correctly, and you know, not all implants are cosmetic: heart valves and such. Also what if you lose a breast, testicle whatever to cancer? Is there an alternative?
posted by Canageek at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2012


oneswellfoop: I'm pretty sure that the ban of silicone implants is widely considered to be the result of junk science in the courtroom, and not an example of thoughtful or properly informed decision-making.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2012


(Also, today I learned that testicle implants are a thing.)

It takes four of them for a full set.
posted by Nomyte at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2012


"Maybe it's shameful, but there you go," Yves Haddad, a lawyer who represents both Mas and his now-defunct company, told Reuters at the end of December. "We live in a capitalist world."

I am seriously fucking sick of people justifying deceptive, harmful, and inhumane behavior by throwing their hands up and saying, Hey, that's capitalism!" like it's somehow a justification.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:36 PM on February 18, 2012 [42 favorites]


(so sick of it it's given me the redundancy.)
posted by louche mustachio at 7:36 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


While this is medical devices and not exactly my bailiwick, I can say that when you get material that is intended to go into a drug, you're supposed to quarantine it, check it's certificate of analysis, and then do some of your own analysis to make sure that what is in the container matches what's on the label. (In the Baxter Heparin case, someone very carefully worked out a substitute that would fool that identity assay.)

So either there was falsification of documents out the wazoo, or somebody on high was really really brazen.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:38 PM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am seriously fucking sick of people justifying deceptive, harmful, and inhumane behavior by throwing their hands up and saying, Hey, that's capitalism!" like it's somehow a justification.

I don't know about justification, but it is an explanation, at least the type of capitalism we've ended up with. We should think about that.
posted by bongo_x at 7:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


[Let's try this again with "can't tell it's not trolling" and "fuck you" comments axed. Please try again? Thank you. ]
posted by jessamyn at 7:44 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pfft. Just another beat-up designed to encourage more inefficient, market-stifling red tape and job-killing nanny state regulations
posted by moorooka at 7:45 PM on February 18, 2012


I believe that there were death sentences handed down for the adulteration of baby formula with melamine. I'm not pro-death penalty but I personally wouldn't have found myself out there protesting with signs in that particular case. This case is of nearly the same order. Those assholes are very lucky to be in Europe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:46 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that patients who have had partial or full mastectomies from breast cancer very often choose breast implants rather than an external prosthesis.

Someone close to me (why I feel like obfuscating right now, I don't know, but I do) did. I honestly discovered that people used external prostheses like two weeks ago. She was not best pleased when told roughly 10 years later that it needed replacing when it was supposed to last forever. (Presumably this was the result of banning silicone implants in the US.)
posted by hoyland at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2012


The protests are happening because the NHS isn't acknowledging this is a problem to the satisfaction of a number of women who have PIP implants. Nor are they offering MRI scans and implant removals for those who are concerned -- probably because that would be very, very costly. The Naomi Wolf editorial linked in the post explains this in further detail.
posted by zarq at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never understood the why it's OK to trash on people who have plastic surgery, for any reason, or why anyone would want to. Where people draw those lines is weird to me. Tattoos, piercings, makeup, hair dye, plastic surgery, some people hate different ones of all those. If you're not doing it to my body I can't get that upset about it.

I've had people suggest I was being vain for having contacts, and then eye surgery. The idea that I just might want to see apparently hadn't occurred to them.
posted by bongo_x at 7:51 PM on February 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


The regulator also received in the mail photos sent anonymously of empty containers of non-approved raw materials at PIP's plant.

(raises a glass to anonymous hero or heroine)
posted by en forme de poire at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2012 [24 favorites]


I wasn't saying the US ban of silicone implants was made for the right reasons, I'm just saying that it turned out to have been a good move, even if accidentally so.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:59 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never understood the why it's OK to trash on people who have plastic surgery, for any reason, or why anyone would want to. Where people draw those lines is weird to me. Tattoos, piercings, makeup, hair dye, plastic surgery, some people hate different ones of all those. If you're not doing it to my body I can't get that upset about it.

For me, it's because tattoos and piercings celebrate the human body, and optional plastic surgery seems to be about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence. I wouldn't judge anyone for having it done, but those are the reasons I find it different.
posted by deanklear at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2012


I keep on pondering implants now and then. Solely because i would like bigger tits. This story is making me glad I haven't yet.
posted by egypturnash at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2012



I've never understood the why it's OK to trash on people who have plastic surgery, for any reason, or why anyone would want to. Where people draw those lines is weird to me. Tattoos, piercings, makeup, hair dye, plastic surgery, some people hate different ones of all those. If you're not doing it to my body I can't get that upset about it.


Maybe it's because surgery always carries risk of death (and lots of complications), and that someone's vanity would lead to this is ridiculous to a lot of people. Having to go through surgery for the most neccessary of things is no picnic, so someone electing to do that is more easily judged than someone with a tattoo or a nose piercing, for example.
posted by everydayanewday at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Please try again? Thank you.

Ok, but here we are circuitously coming back around to the same argument, if marginally less callously made:

optional plastic surgery seems to be about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence

There are certainly a lot of orchiectomy and mastectomy patients on the list of recipients for these things, so you might like to consider the horror of discovering that the tissue you've lost to cancer has been replaced with something likely carcinogenic. Those people do not deserve to be tarred with the narcissism brush, not even a little.
posted by mhoye at 8:27 PM on February 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


I propose that all patients, especially women with breasts or without breasts and cancer thereof, undergoing elective/reconstructive plastic surgery be properly chastened for their vanity by having an ultrasound probe stuck into the wound site and waved around. For the most chastening effect, we'll deny them anesthetic until after this point.

Is that acceptably shameful enough that we can then feel bad for the vain, vain cancer patients when they get toxic waste nuggets surgically implanted in their cancer scars and then get lied to about it?
posted by nicebookrack at 8:41 PM on February 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't think anyone's making any objections to cancer survivors/patients having reconstructive surgery. (I'm not, anyway). I was only responding to bongo_x as to why people trash on those who've had elective surgery purely for vanity reasons.

In any case, the lives of women have been put on the line for a fast buck: fucking despicable.
posted by everydayanewday at 8:47 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The protests are happening because the NHS isn't acknowledging this is a problem to the satisfaction of a number of women who have PIP implants. Nor are they offering MRI scans and implant removals for those who are concerned

It was my understanding that they are offering scans and removal for those women who received them on the NHS, but not for those implanted by private surgeons.
posted by atrazine at 8:51 PM on February 18, 2012


Which of these morally dubious women is more worthy of trashing:
- double mastectomy cancer survivor who wants breast implants five cup sizes larger than her pre-surgery breasts?
- elective surgery patient who wants an implant for her A-cup left breast to match her D-cup right so all of her bras don't look lopsided?
- does she get a pass if she's getting a cleft palate corrected at the same time?

I'm not going to flog the ultrasound probe analogy to death. But color me morally dubious of the viewpoints covering women's bodies + elective medical procedures = the default assumption of women's personal carelessness, vanity, selfishness, and (by extension) unreliable ability to make their own sensible medical choices.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:04 PM on February 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


For me, it's because tattoos and piercings celebrate the human body, and optional plastic surgery seems to be about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence. I wouldn't judge anyone for having it done, but those are the reasons I find it different.

Tattoos and piercings seem as much about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence, when they are about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence. The wave of the over 40 crowd getting these things may be an indication.

Even if folks do all these things for denial of aging and perpetual adolescence, why not? Plenty people reach an age when they are more sure of themselves, and are stable/secure enough to indulge in the body modification of their dreams. Do we get to trash on folks who spend a couple hours a day at the gym simply because they're trying to counter the effects of aging? Is there some more noble reason to undergo elective tattoos, piercings or plastic surgery that gets an imprimatur?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:10 PM on February 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I guess the really far-fetched part of science fiction with lots of body augmentations is that those augmentations actually work.

Yeah, it's kind of hilarioius that the vanguard of human augmentation isn't cranial jacks and mirrorshades, it's rich housewives in Beverly Hills who are obsessed with beauty and status and college students trying to get high and ace their exams.

But it all comes down to doing what you want with your own body. Drugs, abortion, size DD breast implants, whatever, it's your body.

The availability of these augmentation technologies is only going to increase in the future, god bless the vain for bringing the issue to the forefront in a way that sci-fi really hasn't.

So, does anyone know anything about Silopren and it's similarity to medical grade silicone? Is it just a matter of higher tolerances in manufacturing processes and stricter testing?
posted by formless at 9:20 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is sad on so many levels. It is also rage filling.

Women should feel the need to do such a thing (even if due to deformity) and if they do feel a need/desire they should know what they are getting.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:34 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've looked through plastic surgery procedures myself in my weakest moments, and even some of the simplest things can carry dire consequences like disfigurement and death. The dangers of it are simply not on a par with dying your hair or getting a tattoo, and on another level yet (!) from going to the gym. That survivors of accidents and cancer have to make these awful decisions about reconstructive surgery in order to live a more normal life is saddening enough. That anyone else would feel pushed to take these risks to gain the acceptance of others is something...worse.

The only thing sadder than these things is that plastic surgery procedures such as boob jobs are celebrated for women and held as a 'perfect' example of female form and that when they go wrong the response is 'well that's what you get for being vain, LOL!'.
posted by everydayanewday at 9:52 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dunno. I know a woman who went through a fuckton of effort and self-sacrifice to lose weight, only to be rewarded by an "A" cup at the end of it, where before she was a "D." Now, I'm more of a curvaceous-hips-and-long-legs guy, so I kinda shrugged at the news... but it was an immense deal to her. Her skin was loose and flabby, so she didn't look toned at all, despite her stringent exercise regimen, and to add insult to injury, her most overtly feminine of features were robbed of her.

If people can put giant plugs through their ear-lobes or lips, or get "sleeved" tattoos from armpits to fingernails... or achilles piercings[NSFL]... people should be able to decide to have breasts, and what size.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:52 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


My mom always told me not to bother losing weight for that very reason, Slap*Happy; "You'll just lose it in your tits first." Sigh.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:55 PM on February 18, 2012


(which is more of a #shitmymomsays than anything)
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:56 PM on February 18, 2012


I am seriously fucking sick of people justifying deceptive, harmful, and inhumane behavior by throwing their hands up and saying, Hey, that's capitalism!" like it's somehow a justification.

Oh yeah. Please please nail these arseholes to the wall. Every CEO and VP in this company should be in jail. Every cent of profit should be given to cancer research. Stockholders suck it up--you've profited on the health of thousands, and the least you can do is burn your paper and hope like hell nothing like this ever happens to you.

Why is it 'business as usual' means it's OK to make profits through hurting other people?
posted by BlueHorse at 10:00 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am completely in favor of plastic surgery if it makes a person feel more confident and I am outraged that it took MULTIPLE complaints for this to even be looked into.

I am preemptively outraged that the execs won't end up with life sentences in a max security prison. I hope my outrage is misplaced on this second count.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:23 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


deanklear: "optional plastic surgery seems to be about denial of aging and perpetual adolescence..."

mhoye: "There are certainly a lot of orchiectomy and mastectomy patients on the list of recipients for these things, so you might like to consider the horror of discovering that the tissue you've lost to cancer has been replaced with something likely carcinogenic. Those people do not deserve to be tarred with the narcissism brush, not even a little."

Hey - take it easy, now. Did you notice how deanklear used the word "optional"? That seems like it was deliberately designed to exclude the people you're talking about. deanklear made a careful, thoughtful attempt to express his feelings about it while pointedly not being judgmental. Is it really fair to rip him apart for that?

Besides, he's right. This is a difficult subject precisely because body image is very fraught in our society. A lot of us are uncomfortable with the pressure that women in particular are put under to appear a certain way, and we feel that nobody should ever be pressured into having surgery through body shame. By no account does that mean that every person who has plastic surgery is doing so because of that pressure; and even those that are clearly do not deserve any kind of moral indictment.

One would like to say that people should be allowed and encouraged to embrace their own bodies as they are - without saying that people are wrong for changing their bodies if they wish. I don't think there's a contradiction there, but it is complex.
posted by koeselitz at 10:34 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boy, WHAT A SURPRISE
posted by ReeMonster at 10:35 PM on February 18, 2012


Did you notice how deanklear used the word "optional"? That seems like it was deliberately designed to exclude the people you're talking about.

While reconstructive plastic surgery is a commonplace addition to mastectomy/orchidectomy/etc., it is not required. Many people choose the options of wearing external prostheses or no prostheses at all instead. A close though imperfect comparison would be people getting LASIK surgery to improve their terrible eyesight VS LASIK patients with slightly bad sight who are too vain to wear glasses or who want perfect vision.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:48 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of us are uncomfortable with the pressure that women in particular are put under to appear a certain way, and we feel that nobody should ever be pressured into having surgery through body shame. By no account does that mean that every person who has plastic surgery is doing so because of that pressure; and even those that are clearly do not deserve any kind of moral indictment.

The thing I hate the most (not directed at you, koselitz) is that in many cases having "elective" plastic surgery can be an entirely rational economic decision. Women are supposed to be young and beautiful and perfect. There is actual privilege attached to the deal- but when women buy that, they have to hear about how vain and stupid and silly they are.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:16 PM on February 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; discussion about what sort of breasts you are personally attracted to is kind of straying into TMI and derail territory]
posted by taz at 11:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The US ban on silicone breast implants started in 1992 and was lifted in 2006. Source.
posted by Bort at 12:55 AM on February 19, 2012


I've actually had people I don't even know press me for why I haven't gotten LASIK "because everyone looks better without glasses". Then I take them off and they see that my left lens is also a corrective for my strabismus, and my eye wanders off to the left, and if I got LASIK I'd still have the strabismus...

...and I honestly think I don't look like me without my glasses on.

It annoys me that there are people out there who feel compelled to tell me what I should do to make myself align with their ideas of how people should appear, and then I want them to check a movie from the 80s called Looker, where a bunch of women get pushed to plastic surgery to be 'perfect', including stating their various facial feature are millimeters off of 'perfect'.

If getting the implants helps someone feel better, fine. I don't have the right to tell people they can't change their bodies as they feel the desire to.

But at the end of the day, Mas and PIP apparently sold out the lives of the women who had the 300,000 implants put in them for, basically, 10-15 euros each implant, and that's not just criminal, it probably edges into negligent and evil.
posted by mephron at 1:44 AM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the weight loss leading to sagging and smaller breasts, this is where in my personal experience, corsets are helpful. Do not make the corset too tight. The drill is two days on, one day off.
I am pushing 60 and still have a pretty good figure.
I know several breast cancer survivors. I can't see slamming someone for vanity if they just want to restore what they had before.
I am not nuts about tattoos. I am not wild about a LOT of piercings. I do have a nose ring, and pierced ears. Those are not likely to have health impacts.
Lip piercing, tongue and cheek piercings and eyebrow piercings gross me out. Lip cheek and tongue piercings carry some real health risks.
With nose rings you have to take really good care of the site. It can take awhile to fully heal.
Mine took close to a year.
The main thing about plastic surgery is that it is not as well regulated as other medical soecialties. If you know the risks and have a good doctor, it's your own business, not mine.
Oh silicone testicles, ever hear of Neauticals? These are for neutered dogs! Why should dogs have all the fun?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:00 AM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's amusing that nobody has brought up the insurance aspect yet.

In the States the insurance companies don't, under normal cosmetic circumstances, pay for implants. Thus, they have no reason to investigate these sorts of things. (As far as I'm aware, replacements for mastectomies, congenital defects, and or related health problems are normally covered.)

Whereas with government subsidized baby formula, or crazy expensive bone putty that's paid for mostly by insurance, there are people employed just to go in and check on things once in a while, even without complaints. Simply because it's financially sound to do so.

Not that I'm a huge fan of the overhead that insurance companies create, but this is definitely one scenario where they do provide some clear benefit to the system.
posted by Blue_Villain at 2:23 AM on February 19, 2012


This is what the NHS actually says about PIP implant removal.

There is concern, though not getting the publicity it needs, that this isn't just about implants but about all medical implants or devices (anything from heart valves to hip joints). I can't find where I read it right now, but the general gist was that all implants/replacements etc aren't as stringently tested and regulated as medications are, even though they're supposed to be in the body for years.

There was an article in the New Statesman suggesting that research seems to show that cosmetic surgery doesn't increase confidence but makes existing self-esteem problems worse. There's a massive industry that profits from insecurities about image, from cereal adverts that claim that they will give you "the confidence to wear red" to cosmetic surgery. Blaming the people who are insecure (I was about to write women, but I think there's more and more men being sucked into this) rather than the industry is just adding to the climate of personal blame around how you look.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:59 AM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, there's going to be a lot of happy lawyers thanks to this.

Not really, because...

It's amusing that nobody has brought up the insurance aspect yet. . . Not that I'm a huge fan of the overhead that insurance companies create, but this is definitely one scenario where they do provide some clear benefit to the system.

I think you're missing the real insurance problem here. The reason there are unlikely to be a lot of happy lawyers thanks to this is that PIP's insurers are likely to deny coverage for this liability.

First of all, coverage for products liability cases generally can be a bit dicey. Unless a company has specifically purchased coverage intended to cover products liability, the "Completed Work" coverage in most commercial policies isn't all that robust. Further, products liability coverage for medical devices is so expensive that many firms actually self insure for the first few million in losses.

Regardless, pretty much all policies have an intentional acts exclusion. Deliberately intended or even expected losses are almost always not covered. Just like your insurance company isn't going to cover your liability if you go and knock over the local liquor store, they aren't going to cover companies that deliberately produce defective products. The moral hazard is just gigantic. The insurance company/companies will hire attorneys to file that declaratory judgment action denying coverage, so they'll get paid anyway, but the company itself no longer really exists and isn't a going concern, so it doesn't have any incentive to hire its own lawyers to defend the action. Which means the plaintiffs, probably as a class, will have to defend the declaratory judgment action as well as fighting the products liability lawsuit(s).

But odds are decent that the policy language is unambiguous, so assuming we can get a class action here, all of the potential class members are going to be fighting along with the company's creditors for whatever assets remained when the company went into liquidation. I don't know much about French products liability laws, or bankruptcy for that matter, but it strikes me as very, very unlikely that there's going to be enough money to adequately compensate the plaintiffs.

This means that the attorneys are going to be looking anywhere and everywhere to get their hands on someone who might have the assets or insurance to pony up. So we're likely to see them sue the doctors who used the implants, regardless of the fact that the doctors didn't have any responsibility for them. It's also possible that we'll see attempted suits against regulators for dropping the ball, but the courts tend to take a dim view of those sorts of suits, and the regulators can probably claim immunity anyway.
posted by valkyryn at 3:22 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Got a relative who is in management at a hospital.

Over 20 years ago, he handed me a silicone breast implant. I put it in a hanging green folder and put it in my filing cabinet. About 5 years into storage I noted the discolouration of the paper hanging folder. Now the discolouration is almost 100% of the hanging folder.

(Yes, they leak)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:42 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One would like to say that people should be allowed and encouraged to embrace their own bodies as they are - without saying that people are wrong for changing their bodies if they wish. I don't think there's a contradiction there, but it is complex.
I wonder how much people's spend on deodorant, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes and aftershaves, razors and (arguably) clothes over a lifetime compares to elective plastic surgery et al...
posted by Auz at 5:48 AM on February 19, 2012


throwing their hands up and saying, Hey, that's capitalism

If you'd feel better you can go to the political-based FPPs and see such as explanations for how politicians act. After the Republicans pick their choice and the other parties have their pick then the Blue can move onto the 'Hey that's the best choice' as if the lesser of evil isn't still evil.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:59 AM on February 19, 2012


It doesn't matter why anyone got these implants. It's not remotely relevant. When these men and women chose to have these implants put into their bodies for whatever reason it was on the understanding that the implants would be made from suitable, medical grade, tested, non-toxic materials. None of them agreed to have inappropriate industrial grade material implanted, they are not at fault here.

It seems to me that there's a huge mess now that needs cleaning up. Patients that need proper testing and after care (all of them, regardless of why they got the implant or how it was paid for), a company that needs to somehow make it's mistakes right, a regulatory environment that needs to better safeguard against this happening again, and the arseholes who were personally responsible (someone made the choice to use the wrong/cheaper materials, it didn't just happen by accident). Throwing in a bunch of judgement about cosmetic surgery isn't going to help all this untangle any quicker.
posted by shelleycat at 6:03 AM on February 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know if anyone highlighted this but an issue here is the fact that the fucking regulation and inspection of the factory was outsourced to a private company which was seemingly pliant and easy to fool. So it's not just Mr. Genius Inventor Creeper who is the capitalist at fault, it's the lax and/or dishonest private contractor who was supposed to be doing the inspections.

It's funny how people motivated primarily by profit, keeping contracts and pacifying other corporations aren't actually the best people to do health and safety inspections. As someone who has worked in both the private and the public medical sectors, I will personally take the flaws of the public one hands down, no matter how tooth-grindingly annoying it may be.

It's also funny how destructive utopian policies are - not the utopian impulse (We should have a just society! Everyone should have comfortable shoes for free!) but idea that you can have a perfect, self-checking policy. Because really, what happens is that state regulation is flawed and frustrating, civil servants aren't perfect....so citizens allow themselves to be fooled into the idea that a perfect solution is possible, and it just happens to be the one that makes a few people very rich.

As to optional plastic surgery, it seems like in a non-sexist, non-creepy, equal society it could be pretty cool. But in the now, it seems like not such a great idea. It's difficult to see how any major appearance change isn't substantially modulated by the pressures to look young and to conform to your subgroup's ideas of beauty (most of which are pretty terrible)...and while if procedures were really cheap and really safe (like in William Gibson) that would make plastic surgery a lot more like clothes (and while vanity and conformity aren't that great, everyone is vain and conformist at least a little bit)...as it stands, it seems like the risks, the expense and the ideology are a pretty toxic combination.
posted by Frowner at 6:11 AM on February 19, 2012


In this sort of case, I always wonder how many Mercedes-Benz worth of money did they save by using the sub-standard material. Up to 400,000 women, you say? $16,000,000 saved from 2001 to 2011 รท 400,000 = value of the life of one woman at $40 per woman to PIP.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 7:59 AM on February 19, 2012


How many men are going to feel kind of cool because their testicle implants are "industrial grade"?
posted by Goofyy at 9:09 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still not clear on some aspects of this whole affair. Although the silicone was not officially approved, I haven't seen any informed comment on the details of how the material that was used differed from approved material. Is it pretty much the same, but not certified? Is it less pure, or less stable? It doesn't diminish the recklessness of PIP, but it may inform those who await remedial work, and let them assess the urgency of the matter.
posted by Jakey at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2012


mephron writes "I've actually had people I don't even know press me for why I haven't gotten LASIK 'because everyone looks better without glasses'."

These people are obviously crazy.
posted by Mitheral at 9:12 PM on February 19, 2012


Jakey, near the end of the first article, they talked about the differences between the different kinds of silicone - the stuff being used in the faulty implants would leak oil, the oil ends up in the body, and also made the implants themselves more likely to rupture. The approved medical grade silicone didn't leak oil, or if it did it was in "infinitessimal amounts"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:57 AM on February 20, 2012


« Older Fred Clark, previously in the blue for his excelle...  |  "At 9, he settled a dispute wi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments