A MUM-OF-FOUR faces major surgery after her controversial breast implant ruptured and leaked silicone into her body.
Sharon Adams, 38, also fears the faulty PIP implant may have caused the onset of an aggressive form of the debilitating condition, rheumatoid arthritis.
Shop assistant Sharon first underwent breast surgery in 2002 after their appearance was affected by the birth of her third child.
The Pennywell mum had the procedure at the former Dryburn Hospital in Durham and returned to her normal day-to-day after a seemingly successful operation.
In the past couple of years she began experiencing pain and a subsequent scan has revealed that the left implant has ruptured.
PIP implants are currently at the centre of a health scare after it was revealed that they were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
Though she has to go through the trauma of more surgery, Sharon is thankful that her implant procedure was done on the NHS, which will now pay for the cost of replacement surgery.
Many women who paid for their implants privately will be charged thousands to have them replaced.
“I know I am lucky and I am having my replacement done on the NHS,” she said. “But I don’t think cheaper implants should have been used in the first place. If more expensive implants were used I wouldn’t have to go through major surgery again, take time off from work and have the inconvenience of not being able to do things with my kids for a while.”
Though Sharon, of Pitcairn Road, had been experiencing pain, she didn’t begin to panic until she received a letter in 2010 stating that she had been fitted with a sub-standard implant.
She has since learnt that she is on a national database of women who have had the controversial French-made PIP implant and is awaiting a date for her replacement surgery at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
On Friday, the Government announced that anxious patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have the implants removed and replaced free of charge.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he expects private clinics to offer the same deal to their patients. However, while some clinics are offering free replacement, others are insisting the women front the cost.
On Monday, the Echo revealed that Spire Hospital Washington, in Rickleton, is offering free replacement surgery after it fitted 450 women with the PIP implant.
Sharon, who is mum to Beth, 16, Alexandra, 13, Morgan, 10 and Marley, six, said: “I was offered a breast implant after Morgan because I lost a lot of weight and it all went from my chest. I was on antidepressants because of it.
“When I started getting pains a couple of years ago I thought it might be because of my age. Then in 2010 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis.
“Doctors say there’s no link between that and the rupture but on the internet there are various studies about the link between the condition and silicone leaking into your body.”
She added: “I’m part of a support group and women have all had different experiences. Some of the women who had their operations privately are having to pay for the replacement surgery.
“But this isn’t cosmetic surgery, it’s corrective surgery for something which shouldn’t have been done in the first place.”
Around 40,000 British women have received PIP implants manufactured by the now closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).
Although there is no evidence to support the routine removal of the implants, Government experts concluded that it cannot be ruled out that some of the implants are toxic.
The expert review panel also said the anxiety caused to women is a health condition in itself.
In France, the government has told 30,000 women they should have the implants removed while the Czech and German authorities have recommended that women should also have them taken out.