At the meeting, one woman after another who said she became ill from the implants testified that plastic surgeons had reassured the women the implants were safe, and had described only the routine risks associated with any surgery. Some said they did not receive informational pamphlets from manufacturers that gave a more detailed accounting of the risks.
“We do not feel we have been effectively and appropriately informed,” said Holly Davis, of Charleston, S.C., who got implants after a mastectomy.
She said she developed memory problems and asked to be tested for Alzheimer’s disease. Now that the implants have been removed, her memory is coming back. “The pamphlets manufacturers are giving to plastic surgeons are not making it to us,” she said.
“Don’t ignore us,” Ms. Davis pleaded with the panel. “We are real.”
Christine Avila, of San Jose, Calif., got implants for reconstruction after a mastectomy six years ago when she was 38. She said she felt pushed into doing so during “a time of intense shock and vulnerability,” and did not realize that complications from the surgery could require repeat operations and interfere with her cancer treatment.
“Women like me who would rather be alive than have something that looks like boobs need to have this information,” she said.
But another breast cancer patient, Marie Jobson, 50, of San Jose, Calif., said reconstruction was an integral part of her recovery after a double mastectomy in 2013, and she implored the committee to make sure the option of implants would be available to future patients.
“This medical device has allowed me to live in the present moment, in the now, whether it’s wearing a bikini or having intimacy with my husband,” Ms. Jobson said.