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Michigan surgeons push for 'informed consent' before getting breast implants

Posted at 4:42 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 12:42:28-04

(WXYZ) — Today, despite black box warnings being placed on breast implants in 2019, 400,000 women each year are still getting implants.

However, there's a new fight for a letter of informed consent so before getting implants women know the health risks ahead of time.

RELATED: Former Detroit traffic reporter claims breast implants caused fatigue, depression and more

When you Google breast implants, what pops up are loads of articles of celebrities rocking implants with pride like talk show host Wendy Williams, or speaking of horrifying regret. There are also famous people who have gotten their breast implants removed, like Crystal Hefner claiming they were "slowly poisoning" her still while many have had them removed.

"This is by far the number one most common procedure done by plastic surgeons in the US, not even liposuction comes close," said Dr. Shaher Khan, a board-certified plastic surgeon, who adds that breast augmentation is an enormous moneymaker.

RELATED: 40 women, including a former Detroit traffic reporter, testify at federal hearing about dangers of breast implants

"It's not uncommon for someone to do 20,000 implants in a lifetime," Khan said.

At an average of $7,000 a pair, multiply that by 20,000 surgeries for every plastic surgeon.

But Khan said he never augmented during his career because while he was a medical student at Yale he saw the adverse effects of the procedure.

The FDA banned augmentation in 1992 when silicone was causing some women to get sick, but that ban was lifted 15 years later and silicone implants eventually returned to the market.

"Now we're seeing what is a re-emergence of the same set of problems, history essentially repeating itself," Khan said.

He's referring to Breast Implant Illness, which is caused by silicone leaking into the body. Dr. Khan says the shell of all implants are made of silicone and he says none are safe.

"Every time I look at a capsule under the microscope I see all the inflammation," the doctor said.

Dr. Khan says Breast Implant Illness is linked to breathing issues, chest pain, throat ailments, neck and back pain, hair loss, skin rashes, vision problems, thyroid imbalances, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and even lung problems.

Now, Dr. Khan, along with a dozen other board-certified plastic surgeons in Michigan, are doing explant surgery which means he painstakingly removes these implants and the shell that forms around the implant in a woman's body. It's a three- to seven-hour surgery.

A patient of Dr. Khan underwent the explant surgery after having implants for 20 years.

RELATED: Breast implant illness: The sickness behind the rising number of women getting 'explants'

"10 years ago I noticed a lot of changes and started doing more research and found out a lot of my symptoms could be due to my implants," the patient said.

Tracy Gary had explant surgery three years ago. She says she was so depressed she wanted to commit suicide.

Now, three years after the surgery, Gary has a new outlook.

"Oh my gosh, I feel like a completely different person," she said. "I completely got my health and life back."

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Amy Derosa stopped doing breast augmentations two years ago after removing implants from a woman who said she was ill.

"Sure as heck, a week later she comes into the office and she's brighter than ever and all of these symptoms are starting to resolve on their own, one by one," Dr. Derosa said.

Now the push is on in Michigan for a mandatory informed consent to be signed before surgery spelling out all risks.

Two states – Washington state and Arizona – have mandatory informed consent. Dr. Khan, Dr. Derosa and so many surgeons have joined women to have that option in Michigan as well.

They've reached out to lawmakers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are awaiting a response.