Injured People

My heartache over the PIP breast implant scandal

Jess Volkers writes a candid blog about her struggle with anxiety and depression, since finding out that she has PIP breast implants.


I am a 21 year old that until recently was happy and excited about what the future may bring. Now I live every day with the anxiety of having potentially toxic breast implants that could rupture at any moment.

Three days before Christmas I read a news story stating that the French breast implants that I had fitted in January 2010 were being recommended for removal overseas, due to a higher than normal rupture rate. Reading on, I found out that the now-bankrupt French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) was shut down in April 2010 after being caught using industrial, rather than medical, silicone in its devices. If swallowing this information wasn’t hard enough, I then found out there had been links to a rare form of cancer, Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma, after the breast implants had ruptured in eight French women.

My heart sank. I had an instant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. How could the third largest supplier of implants in the world knowingly endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of women across the globe? I thought this was the type of story you might expect to hear from third world countries carrying out backyard plastic surgery. After undergoing my surgery in Brisbane by an excellent and attentive surgeon, I never expected to hear that the well-known brand of implants would harvest this much danger. I have since moved away from my family and surgeon in Brisbane and relocated to Townsville. I am finding it extremely difficult dealing with this, seemingly on my own.

Since learning the devastating news my life has taken a downward turn. I have been enduring anxiety induced stress and depression whilst living with the fear that my breast implants could rupture at any time, causing the industrial grade silicone to leak into my body and possibly cause serious health problems. I have found myself too nervous to exercise or lay on my side at an angle that may cause even the slightest amount of pressure on my breasts.

Seeking piece of mind, I constantly search for any new information regarding the PIP implants in Australia. I’ve joined Awareness Groups on Facebook, I’ve read countless news stories, including people’s snide comments insisting that it is “your own fault” in the hope of coming across other women in my situation. I have had a breast ultrasound, as recommended by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. I have also phoned the Breast Implant Information Line, which basically only read verbatim that I had already researched myself – the TGA seems to think this ‘global’ issue excludes Australia and that there is no cause for concern.  

Though I have not had any symptoms to suggest my implants have ruptured, I fail to see how there is still no cause for concern after at least 116 women filed incident reports with the TGA after citing issues with their PIP breast implants. And yet a TGA spokeswoman by the name of Kay McNiece, was quoted saying “at this stage there is insufficient evidence of a problem with the Australian supplied implants to warrant routine removal of the implants that have not ruptured.”

The lack of information provided to Australian women regarding this is leaves us worrying ourselves sick every day. It has taken a heavy toll on my personal life and is quickly becoming an issue in my working life, as stewing over the unknown is affecting my ability to concentrate. Left with too many questions unanswered, women around Australia have had the potentially toxic implants removed at their own cost simply because they are scared of what could happen to them. There is no way I can afford to pay to have the implants replaced myself as I am still paying off the loan I took out for them. I also do not have Private Health Insurance cover either. So where does this leave me and other women in the same situation? How long are we supposed to put our health on the line waiting for a resolution to this scandal?

There are hundreds of Australian women joining together in a potential class action and also via social media support groups to stand united against the injustice we are faced with. These innocent women confronted with this ongoing issue are angry, distressed and tired of being falsely assured that there is no concern where there obviously is. We need the TGA to recognise the problem within Australia and offer its support in ridding our bodies of what we believe are toxic time bombs.

If you have depression or anxiety, seek help here

TGB is investigating legal action for women with PIP breast implants. Contact Partner Tim White on (08) 8212 1077 or email twhite@tgb.com.au.