PHOENIX — Women who want to get breast implants would be required to get more information about the side effects under the terms of legislation approved Wednesday by a Senate committee.
The unanimous vote for SB 1439 followed testimony by several women who told the Health and Human Services Committee about the health effects, often lasting years, after they had implants. The women all said that they never were informed of what could go wrong.
No one from any of the manufacturers came to testify against the measure.
There also was no opposition from surgeons. In fact, James Nachbar, a Scottsdale plastic surgeon and lawyer, told lawmakers he supports the measure.
In essence, the measure puts together a group including doctors, manufacturers and patients to come up with an “informed consent checklist” of what physicians should discuss with patients considering breast implants. If the bill passes the Legislature, the committee would have until the end of the year to come up with the checklist.
At the very least, the legislation requires that list to include information about cancer associated with breast implants as well as other breast implant illnesses. And patients would have to be told of the National Breast Implant Registry, which keeps track of not only devices that are implanted but also subsequent surgeries.
“I asked all the right questions for over a year,” Lisa Roland told lawmakers. “I wasn’t told about auto-immune conditions. I wasn’t given a manufacturer’s booklet.”
Roland said this isn’t a simple matter of requiring a consent form. In fact, she said, the current form used by plastic surgeons is written at the collegiate level.
“It’s 13 pages long,” she said. “It took me an hour and 48 minutes to read this thing.”
What SB 1439 would require, she said, is different.
“It clearly spells out all of the risks that I wish I had known before my implant surgery,” Roland said, the surgery she said left her sick for 18 years.
Robyn Towt had her own story for lawmakers, telling of her double mastectomy in 2017 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She said she had breast reconstruction with one of the top board-certified plastic surgeons in the East Valley, whom she did not name.
“My doctor told me breast implants were perfectly safe,” Towt said, even with silicone.
“I ended up having extreme health issues,” she said, having been given no idea what chemicals were in the implants. Towt said she had them removed after four months “and my 23 symptoms resolved within 48 hours.”
Gretchen Goodell-Bridge said the side effects of her own implants were so severe, including hair loss and heart palpitations, she had to stop working as a women’s health nurse practitioner until she had them removed.
“It shouldn’t be this way,” she said.
“Women should know all the risks about a procedure,” Goodell-Bridge said. “It is the surgeon’s responsibility to inform the patient of all the negative things that can happen.”
She acknowledged that not every women who had implants will get sick.
“But a proper informed consent means being given all the relevant information to make an educated decision,” Goodell-Bridge said.
On Twitter: @azcapmedia
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