In 2007, the dollars spent on breast augmentation surgery in the United States was $1.5 billion. By 2012, the numbers are projected to top 2 billion per year. Statistics from The American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that breast augmentation headed the list of surgical procedures in 2008. For those women who have had mastectomies, implants will be presented as a standard part of the recovery process.
Carol Ciancutti-Leyva, director of the documentary “Absolutely Safe,” is the daughter of a cancer survivor. Her mother’s journey, from a double mastectomy to silicone implants in the early 70s – which resulted in chronic illness, formed the impetus for the film.
The documentary came out in 2007, after a ten-year struggle for funding. It is currently being booked for screenings on college campuses and is being used in classrooms devoted to women’s studies, bioethics, and public policy.
Currently, Ciancutti-Leyva is working to create strategic partnerships to mobilize an “Informed Consent” campaign about the use of breast implant devices. Her 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.”