June 24, 2009

Breast Implants Should Require Informed Consent

Over at the Huffington Post, Marcia Yerman examines arguments surrounding the safety of breast implants, as presented in the documentary film “Absolutely Safe” — and efforts underway to require doctors to provide accurate information about breast implants.

Our Bodies Ourselves has teamed up with “Absolutely Safe” director Carol Ciancutti-Leyva and the film company Amaranth Productions to advocate for legislation that will require plastic surgeons to provide prospective patients with a  booklet outlining the risks, complications and unknowns, along with alternatives to reconstructive breast implant surgery.

As Yerman notes, such legislation is not without precedent:

[The] model for legislation is a New York State Law (State of New York – Article 24-E, Section 2499w New York State law) that required the state’s Department of Health to publish a booklet that must be received by every woman considering a hysterectomy. It succinctly outlines risks, complications, alternative treatments, and recuperation expectations. Presently, the FDA has a guide on breast implants, but it is not legally mandated that prospective patients receive it. The “FDA Breast Implant Consumer Handbook” was published in 2004. Ciancutti-Leyva told me that the information reads as “a cautionary tale.” [...]

The need for informed consent was addressed as far back as 2000, in an editorial appearing in the Fall issue of The Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association. Written by Nancy Neveloff Dubler, LLB and Anna Schissel, JD, it was entitled “Women, Breasts, and the Failure of Informed Consent.” The authors examined whether “informed consent for breast augmentation is too fragile a reed to withstand the storm of commerce.”

You better believe opposition will be strong. Last year I discussed a marketing campaign by breast implant manufacturer Allergan that recasts augmentation surgery as a feminist act — a choice women can make for themselves. Allergan actually says its “empowering” women with information about size and shape options. The company has one goal in mind: to increase the number of breast implant procedures from 400,000 per year to more than 1 million.

If you really want to do something empowering, get involved with the informed consent campaign. Leave a comment on Marcia Yerman’s story (a good way to help promote the piece at Huffington Post). Visit the “Absolutely Safe” website for more information about what informed consent means, and check out the film’s trailer below.

You might also want to bookmark Ciancutti-Leyva’s blog for the latest news about breast implant safety. Finally, the Politics of Women’s Health section of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” contains a good amount of information on breast implants, including articles and online resources.


One Response to “Breast Implants Should Require Informed Consent”

  1. Jessica A Says:

    Yeah to this, but at the same time I feel that this should be done for other elective procedures etc as well. Since I feel theres a need for this no matter what. By the way I’m not even for this as well.

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