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French Maker of Leaking Breast Implants Faces Criminal Charges

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French authorities began an investigation on Friday of the maker of silicone breast implants used in dozens of women’s breast enhancement surgeries across the world. Manufactured with industrial-grade rather than surgical grade silicone, the breast implants are linked to leakages or ruptures. Additionally, gel leaks can trigger inflammation in the body and make it more difficult to remove the implants.

Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the French company that manufactured the so-called “PIP” implants, or Poly Implant Prostheses, was arrested and questioned all day Thursday, but was released today on bail. The company went out of business in 2010 prior to the release of the breast implant scandal. Previously, health ministers in France were concerned that the implants heightened the risk of cancer or death, but later ruled out that possibility. Nevertheless, they subsequently suggested that all women with the PIP implant have them removed as a protective measure.

Mas faces charges of “involuntary injury” for manufacturing the implants that caused leakage and other health problems in women. For the one count of involuntary injury, he could face up to one year in prison if convicted. According to estimates, more than 42,000 women in Britain, 30,000 in France, 9,000 Australia and 4,000 in Italy received the PIP implants, with an additional 25,000 sold in Brazil. The implants were not sold in the U.S.