A Sheffield woman who had breast implants after a double mastectomy has told how the failed op left her disabled and unable to have sex.
WARNING: STORY FEATURES GRAPHIC DETAIL Devastated Aly Tate elected to have a double mastectomy after a series of breast cancer scares and had both breasts removed at the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital in 1997. Soon she was looking forward to having reconstructive surgery so she could get on with her life, she told The Sunday People. Aly said she was assured that having silicone implants put in on the NHS was a simple and safe procedure. But nearly two decades and 21 operations later, she warns other women that breast implants can ruin your life if they go wrong. Aly, 56, has been left with systemic silicosis and two autoimmune diseases as a result of silicone leaking into her body. She even lost most of her genitals. “It’s like something out of a horror film,” she told the newspaper. “I had my breasts removed to save my life – but what’s happened since then has destroyed me. “I don’t feel like a woman any more, I’m a walking blob. I’m terrified for the future because I have no doubt this will kill me. Silicone has gone really deep in my chest wall and it’s in my lymph nodes. “The professionals are openly saying they don’t know what to do. I’ve been on chemotherapy once a week for a year but I don’t think it’s working.” The mum of two recalled: “I kept finding lumps that had to be removed. It felt like a ticking time bomb and I decided it would be safer to have the mastectomy so I could stay well for my two sons. “The following April, I had silicone implants placed under my chest muscle at another hospital . “I remember asking the surgeon if they were safe – and being assured that they wouldn’t put them in if they were not. I was told to carry on with my life, riding my horse and working.” A year later Aly, whose bust had been restored to a 36B, fell off her horse. Afterwards noticed there was a gap between her breasts. She returned to her surgeon and was shocked to learn her left implant had ruptured and needed replacing. “I couldn’t understand why such a slight fall had caused it,” she said. “But I thought it was a one-off.” Aly then developed a rash over her right breast. And March 2000 she developed a temperature, indicating she had an infection. Her right implant was also removed and replaced. The following month she had to have fluid drained from both breasts and have new saline implants put in. But nine months later the new implants had flipped over and also needed to be replaced. “I knew something wasn’t right,” admitted Aly. “But you trust what the professionals are telling you and tell yourself everything will be all right.” As her health deteriorated her life began to unravel and her marriage broke down. She said: “I don’t think my husband looked at me as a woman any more. It was just horrendous.” Aly was forced to sell her horse and give up her job to improve her chances of recovery. But by 2008 she was experiencing unexplained lethargy and in 2012 she noticed a rash on her stomach and lumps on her breast. She was also suffering pain during sex and found a sore on her finger. “I felt like I was literally falling apart,” she admitted. In July 2013 Aly’s surgeon confirmed that the left implant had ruptured again. This time she asked for both implants to be removed permanently. She explained: “I didn’t care what I looked like, I never really had. I just wanted to feel well again. I just wanted rid of them.” But worse news was to follow. After the implant removal procedure, Aly said shocked surgeons told her they had scraped silicone from her ribs. She also needed more lumps removed from her body and the sore finger was revealed to be a silicone leak. “My chest was a mess,” said Aly. “I was ravaged with scars.” By now, she could not make love at all and an immunologist said it was a result of leaked silicone damaging her vagina. “It was a huge blow,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe that as well as everything else, the implants were now to blame for me not being able to have a sex life.” In 2014 she made a complaint and transferred to yet another hospital. She began chemotherapy for her autoimmune diseases but the leaked silicone remains in her body. Aly smiled sadly as she said: “It was ironic. I had the mastectomy to prevent cancer and here I was receiving chemotherapy because the implants I had during reconstructive surgery had made me ill.” Aly also claims that her clitoris was removed by mistake during an operation in March 2015. She said: “I suffered a breakdown and tried to take my life. They didn’t even tell me they had taken my clitoris away. You couldn’t make it up.” She was put under the care of a mental health team before, bizarrely, being referred to a transgender clinic. Aly laughed as she recalled: “The staff had no idea why I was there – I didn’t want to be a man. “I am a woman who has had her body and her life destroyed by breast implants. It was the final insult.” She is now registered disabled and more leaked silicone has been found. Now she has instructed a solicitor to seek compensation from the NHS for all she has been through. She admits she would have given up completely but for her sons Nick, 32 and Alex, 28. Even so she has reluctantly resigned herself to remaining single for good. Aly added: “I had a partner after the breakdown of my marriage but now I think I’m better off on my own. When do you tell somebody you’ve got no breasts and can’t have a sexual relationship?”