Like many other plastic surgery procedures, breast implant surgeries may be associated with several serious health issues. There are various materials used for breast implants, but each comes with its own unique health risks.
Silicone fluid implants have been linked to leakage, while polyurethane-covered implants have been linked to breast cancer. A list of 9 common injuries associated with breast implants are as follows:
- Fibrous Capsular Contracture: The formation of fibrous capsules around the implant that can cause pain and firmness.
- Calcification: When living tissue around the implants stiffens due to calcium salts.
- Silicone Gel Leakage and Migration: Gel from silicone implants can migrate to the lymph nodes and can migrate as far as the abdomen.
- Infection: A common side effect of any surgical procedure.
- Interference with Mammograms: Depending on where the implants are placed, they can interfere with mammograms and make it harder for doctors to diagnose breast cancer.
- Degradation: Polyurethane foam-covered breast implants have been linked to cancer and have already been pulled from U.S. markets, however about 200,000 women still have this type of implant.
- Human Carcinogenicity: As breast implants are a foreign substance, they may increase the chance of breast cancer due to the human body's reaction to foreign substances.
- Human Teratogenicity: It has been claimed that the presence of silicone causes fetal injuries.
- Immune Disorders: The presence of silicone in the body has been linked to altering the body’s natural antigens that fight foreign cells, so that they begin to attack its own cells, causing autoimmune disorders.
Thus, breast implant injuries can involve many different types of injuries and mechanisms. Some cases may involve multiple injuries stemming from the same implant. Symptoms may not appear until later after the implant procedure; also, some breast implant injuries can lead to long-term medical conditions and further complications with other conditions.
What Can I Do If My Implants are Defective?
If your doctor made a mistake, resulting in one of the injuries listed above, then you might be able to recover for medical malpractice. On the other hand, if the implant itself was defective, then you might be able to take part in a defective product class action lawsuit. Like other types of defective product claims, defective breast implants can fall into three main categories. These can include:
- Manufacturing Defects: These types of defects generally occur during the assembly or production phase of the product’s development.
An example of this is where a breast implant product is manufactured in a way that makes the product more likely to degrade after implanting it. In such cases, the manufacturer might face liability if the defect causes injuries.
- Design Defects: These are errors having to do with the way that the breast implant product is designed. For instance, if a breast implant product is designed using materials that are sub-quality or prone to leakage, it might lead to a defective product claim.
- Warning Defects: These types of defects involve the safety and warning information that accompanies the product. If the manufacturer fails to include proper safety warnings, or if the warnings are not visible or easy to read, they could face legal liability in connection with the defect.
Products that have been deemed to be dangerous may be subject to a nationwide product recall. This is where retailers, distributors, hospitals, and other organizations are alerted to the dangers associated with the product. They will be required to stop using or selling the product; if they continue to do so after a recall has been issued, they may also face liability for negligence.
What is Needed to Prove Medical Malpractice?
As mentioned, injuries caused by a breast implant may be the result of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can take many forms, including:
- Performing the wrong breast implant surgical procedure on a patient;
- Issues regarding diagnosis or other medical decisions made in connection with an implant;
- Anesthesia errors prior to or during surgery;
- Improper medical advice; and/or
- Various other types of misconduct.
In order to prove medical malpractice, several elements must be met. These elements are generally the same as those required in proving a negligence claim. These include:
- Duty of Care: The court must prove that the medical professional owed a duty of care to the patient. In most cases, the duty of care is simply the same medical professional standards that a doctor with similar training and background would be held to.
- Breach of Duty: The actions of the medical professional must be considered a breach of this duty of care. A common example of such a breach of duty is where the medical professional fails to follow proper sanitation procedures prior to a breast implant procedure.
- Causation: The breach of duty must be the actual, direct cause of the injury
- Damages: The breach of duty must also result in measurable damages to the patient.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the damages may cover expenses like additional medical costs, costs of surgery or rehabilitation, pain and suffering damages, scarring and disfigurement damages, and other losses.
Some states may place limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice lawsuit, so make sure to check the laws of your state and find out if your lawsuit will have limits for recovery.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with My Breast Implant Injury?
If you’ve suffered any breast implant injuries, a local personal injury attorney can review your situation and determine if you have a viable case. An attorney in your area can help you file a claim for your injuries and your medical costs.