18 NZ women may have been given toxic breast implants, health officials say

Vanessa. Photo / Supplied
Vanessa. Photo / Supplied

Health officials have warned that 18 Kiwi women may have received toxic breast implants made by the disgraced French company PIP.

The industrial-grade silicone implants, which were never meant for medical use, have been linked to rupture and swelling in thousands of women worldwide.

In January, the Ministry of Health said it had no record of any PIP breast implants being used in New Zealand.

However, several Kiwi women have since come forward saying they have the implants and were worried about their health.

One New Zealander, Vanessa, said she was so terrified that she had the implants removed at her own expense.

"I just thought if they were European they would be good quality and then he said lots of women overseas had had them and good results," she told 60 Minutes which will feature several women's stories tomorrow night .

"I was getting quite bad hives under my arms and down the sides of my breasts but I had no idea what was causing it. It was just an unknown."

Another woman is desperate to remove the implants but cannot afford to.

The implants were imported in 2003 from Australia by a Wellington-based plastic surgeon, before it was mandatory for imported medical goods to be reported.

The surgeon has since retired.

In a statement, the New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons said the implants were privately imported from Australia. "Our advice to women is that if they have any concerns regarding their silicone gel implants they should contact their breast implant surgeon for advice and follow up."

60 Minutes reporter Paula Penfold said "Vanessa" was concerned about potential health defects.

"She breastfed her daughter while she still had the implants, so she's worried about that. But she is also concerned about her own health.

"She's experienced headaches, loss of strength and other symptoms."

For the full story, watch 60 Minutes on TV3, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

- NZ Herald

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