Belfast Telegraph

Plastic breasts aren't fantastic, says model Gemma

By Stephanie Bell

After Belfast model Gemma Garrett found out she was among thousands who had faulty breast implants, her advice now to women is to be happy with what nature provided.

Gemma Garrett is angry and it’s not difficult to understand why. Still healing eight months after surgery to remove ruptured PIP breast implants, the 30-year-old Belfast model has no idea if there is a lasting risk to her health.

It doesn’t help that Gemma now believes she was wrongly advised to have implants in the first place and that there were other less invasive medical options open to her.

And she claims that the surgeon she consulted and who performed the operation — and who now won’t return her calls — should have informed her that he was using the cheaper option of Poly Implant Prothese implants — the current cause of a huge global health scare.

But most of all she is angry at herself — for being too trusting of a medical professional and for not carrying out more thorough research before opting to follow his advice.

Determined to channel the strong emotion which has followed her horrific ordeal into something positive Gemma has launched a personal crusade to persuade young girls against having a breast enlargement.

She says: “I’ve learnt a very hard lesson.

“Fortunately I am healthy at the minute and I can only hope there are no lasting effects but no one can tell me for sure.

“I think big boobs are overrated and it horrifies me how many young girls at just 17 and 18 years old are making the decision, supported by parents, to have breast implants.

“In many cases their breasts haven’t even finished growing. I want to campaign to warn them that it is not as glamorous as they think and that they will have to find the money to go through surgery all over again after 10 years, something else which I wasn’t told.”

Gemma, a former Miss Great Britain had surgery in 2008, not because she wanted to be a larger cup size but because she was self conscious that one of her breasts was bigger than the other.

Working as a model at the time made her even more aware of the difference and she decided to seek the advice of a breast surgeon to see if she could have corrective surgery.

“I didn’t want larger boobs. I was a size 8-10 at the time and my breasts were a full C cup or even a D cup which I was happy with,” she says.

Gemma went online to research breast surgeons and in the end opted for a London consultant who had been recommended by model friends in the city.

He recommended breast implants to correct the size variance in her breasts although Gemma later discovered there were corrective surgery options open to her which he didn’t mention.

At £5,000, the cost of the surgery was more than double what many other places were charging but this only served to reassure Gemma that she was paying for the best.

She says: “I had just got my first big modeling pay cheque and even though I could have got it done a lot cheaper elsewhere I thought I was paying more because it was the best hospital and the best surgeon and that actually gave me confidence about it.”

Gemma was told her implants would be silicone but PIP was not mentioned.

It has since emerged that the controversial implants which originated in France are filled with industrial chemicals including those used as fuel additives or for the manufacture of industrial rubber tubing.

It was last spring when Gemma discovered one of her breasts had become lumpy and decided to visit her GP who advised that she contact her implant surgeon.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with him an increasingly worried Gemma made an appointment with another specialist at a clinic in London’s Harley Street to have her breasts examined.

She says: “As well as the lumps I had been feeling quite tired and drained even though I was very active.

“When I went to Harley Street the consultant warned me that my implants could be PIP and his advice was that I get them out straight away.

“I was really, really scared, and the truth is, I still am. I didn’t know the lasting effects and I’m angry about that.

“I had to wait two weeks for surgery and it was like hell because I just wanted them out.

“I had heard about PIP implants as there had been a wee bit of press on them but nothing like the scandal there is now. It was enough to worry me though. The operation itself was major and when I came round the surgeon was shaking his head and saying: ‘I can’t believe they did this to you’.

“He said he had done what he could, but some silicone had fused into my breast.

“I felt a million times better as soon as they were taken out. I was left with huge cavities where the implants were.

“Every six weeks, I go to hospital, have a needle inserted and the blood which has filled the cavities drained. It’s painful and unpleasant. I’m told the cavities will close eventually.

“It’s pretty disgusting but I think it is important to talk about it to show young people the less glamorous side to it.”

Gemma’s operation cost her £11,000 and she feels fortunate that she could afford to pay for it.

Her breasts are scarred but are still healing and she has been assured that any permanent scarring will be minimal.

She feels strongly that all women with PIP implants should have them removed and believes both the Government and the breast clinics should provide financial support for those who can’t afford it.

The French Government is to pay for 30,000 women with the implants to have them removed.

But the UK Government has played down any health fears for the 40,000 women in the UK believed to have had the surgery.

She says: “It is scary that they are telling people not to worry about it if it hasn't opened up.

“I think if you have PIPs, or are in any doubt that you may have them, then you need to get them taken out.

“It makes me angry that the French who made them are saying they have to be taken out and yet the British Government is not

“Ultimately I think the surgeons are responsible as they bought in these cheap products.

“It has been said that women have got themselves into this sittuation because of vanity but I would say to that, ‘what about smokers who get lung cancer or sun worshippers who get skin cancer’? They know the risks, these women didn’t.

“The Government can’t just leave them with the risk of these things leaking into their systems.

“And the women shouldn’t have to pay as that means the clinics that caused the problem in the first place are getting even more money for the mistake they made.”

more than nature intended

Even celebrities don’t always get the figures they hoped for.

  • Victoria Beckham: After a few years with implants Posh has had hers removed.
  • Pamela Anderson: The pneumatic blonde is the grand dame of boob jobs having had both enhancement and reductions, resulting in a mis-shaped cleavage.
  • Chelsee Healey: The actress’s super-inflated chest almost caused a wardrobe malfunction on Strictly.
  • Tori Spelling : Told Good Morning that, as a mum, one of her biggest regrets is having breast implants.

“I got my boobs done in my early 20's and if I had known it would or could possibly have impacted production of milk I would never had had them done,” she admitted.

... and leading from the front

But for others the op left them looking swell.

  • Katie Price: Pumped up her |figure to a DD cup to kickstart her modelling career, then got a reduction while married to Peter Andre.
  • Alex Curran: Married to Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard, she got a boob job aged 18 and has since warned young women against getting an enhancement.
  • Kelly Rowland: Has been open about her decision to go under the knife, explaining that she had breast implants because she was tired of having “little nuggets for boobs”.

... meanwhile, keeping it real

Kelly Brook, Jennifer Aniston and Christina Hendricks

... from ivory to silicone

  • In 1895 surgeon Vincenz Czerny was the first to effect a breast implant emplacement when he harvested tissue from a benign lumbar lipoma to repair the asymmetry of the breast from which he had removed a tumor.
  • In 1889 surgeon Robert Gersuny experimented with paraffin injections with disastrous results.
  • From the first half of the 20th century physicians used other substances as breast implant fillers including ivory, glass balls, ground rubber, ox cartilage and Terylene wool. Unsurprisingly, infections were common.
  • After World War II Japanese prostitutes trying to attract American servicemen revolutionised breast implants by having silicone injected into their breasts.
  • In 1961 the first silicone breast prosthesis, filled with silicone gel, was developed in America.

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