A mother-of-three performed the world’s first DIY breast-implant removal at home because she could not afford to pay for surgery.
Tonia Rossington, a part-time cleaner, looked up how to do the operation on Google before using a 99p scalpel, £2.50 bottle of disinfectant and bag of ice to carry out the procedure on March 16 this year.
Ms Rossington, 49, who could not afford to have the £3,000 operation done privately, hated her F-cup implants too much to join an NHS waiting list and was also conscious of not costing the health service money.
After cutting through scar tissue and fat, Ms Rossington ‘popped’ out both implants in less than 10 minutes in an at-home procedure she claims was completely painless due to severe nerve damage caused by the original operation.
Ms Rossington, from Skegness, Lincolnshire, who developed depression and anxiety as a result of her implants, then took herself to A&E, where she was discharged just hours later without stitches.
She is speaking out to encourage women to think very carefully before undergoing cosmetic surgery.
Tonia Rossington performed the world’s first DIY breast-implant removal at home because she could not afford to pay for surgery (pictured after undergoing the botch procedure)
Ms Rossington (pictured before) had implants fitted after feeling that breastfeeding her three children had left her with a saggy chest, but regretted them when she began to lose weight
Even though she admits her breasts are now ‘not pretty’, she is thrilled with the results
‘The NHS is under such a huge strain and I didn’t want to add to that’
Speaking of the at-home procedure, Ms Rossington said: ‘The NHS is under such a huge strain as it is and I didn’t want to add to that.
‘I have a pretty strong stomach and knew I could just take them out myself.
‘I tried to save for an explant. I was putting money in a jar but something always came up.
‘I thought “This is never going to happen.” I started suffering with anxiety and my giant boobs really started to get me down. I desperately wanted them out.
‘I knew people would say “Well you shouldn’t have had them in the first place” or “Well you had them put in, you live with it”, so I just decided to do it on my own.’
She was not prepared to join an NHS waiting list or waste the health service’s money
Ms Rossington claims her huge bust caused her to suffer from depression and anxiety
IS BREAST-IMPLANT REMOVAL SURGERY FREE IN THE UK?
Breast-implant removal surgery is regarded as a low priority and is not generally paid for by the NHS.
NHS England will typically pay if patients are experiencing the following:
- Breast disease, which causes lumps and bumps
- Recurrent infections
- Hardening of scar tissue with severe pain
- Hardening of scar tissue that affects medical imaging
- Rupturing of silicon gel-filled implants
Patients with PIP implants should contact their GP or the private clinic that fitted them.
PIP implants were withdrawn from the UK in 2010 after it was discovered they were fraudulently manufactured with unapproved silicone gel that made them up to six times more likely to split.
Ruptured breast implants have no long-term health risks but could cause pain, tenderness, redness and a change in breast shape.
Some private clinics have agreed to remove PIP implants free of charge if medically necessary.
Source: NHS Choices
‘I couldn’t feel anything’
A year ago, after discovering she could not afford to pay for a private operation, Ms Rossington wrote to her GP saying she was suffering mental-health problems linked to her implants and told him she had considered taking them out herself.
A reply letter simply stated such surgery could only be performed on the NHS in her area if the implants were ruptured and causing severe pain or if there was extreme scarring.
Ms Rossington felt her only option was to do it herself, saying: ‘When I started thinking about doing it, I googled it.
‘There was only one lady who’d tried in America, but she only got one out before she passed out and went to the hospital.
‘The NHS only do it in really severe circumstances. You need a really valid reason and you can be on the waiting list for years unless it’s a serious emergency.
‘Even if I’d had gone with the NHS I knew it would be a long wait and I’d got it in my mind that I just wanted them out there and then.
She said: ‘At this point I was still thinking “Are you mental?”
‘I came home and I lay awake at night just thinking “I’m going to do this tonight”.
‘I was still trying to talk myself out of it. I kept saying to myself “Don’t be crazy. You’re not thinking straight”.
‘Anyway it got to teatime and I got some ice cubes out of the freezer and put them in a plastic sandwich bag and tied it up like an ice bag.
‘I went upstairs, I got the mirror in front of me. I sat there for a while and thought I’d just cut a little bit to see if it hurts.
‘I put the ice underneath where the original scar is. I lifted my boob up and held the ice there for five minutes until I couldn’t bear it any longer.
‘After a bit I pinched the skin and I couldn’t feel anything. I just got the knife and I did a tiny little incision on the original scar tissue and I couldn’t feel a thing. I thought “Oh, this doesn’t hurt. Great!”
Image shows the breast implant Ms Rossington removed after it ruptured inside of her
She performed the operation with this 99p scalpel, as well as a £2.50 bottle of disinfectant
After the procedure, Ms Rossington made makeshift dressings and took herself to A&E
Implant turned to mush
Ms Rossington traced the line of her 14-year-old scar, being careful not to hit any major veins or arteries.
She then cut through fat and scar tissue until she began to see lumps of silicone.
Ms Rossington said: ‘God it was awful. The implant had clearly ruptured.
‘There was all this jelly, which was my fatty tissue. It sounds disgusting.
‘Then I came to something that looked like a pocket, which I’d read about.
‘You get a breast pocket which forms around the implant. I came to that and thought “I’ve got to get through this now”.
‘That took 10 minutes to get through but there was still no pain. Seriously I’m not joking, there was no pain. It was unreal.
She said: ‘And I was looking at myself in the mirror thinking “I’m dreaming this. Am I really doing this?”
‘Then I saw the implant and that’s when the adrenaline kicked in.
‘I got some gauze and I grabbed the implant and that’s when I realised it was ruptured.
‘As I pulled it a chunk of it came off in my hand and that’s when I panicked. I thought “I’ve got to get this out of me now. I have to do this”.
‘There was silicone everywhere. As I was pulling it it was just turning to mush.’
Ms Rossington, who claims she has a strong stomach, said she was driven to desperation
The mother-of-three asked herself is she was crazy, before doing the at-home removal anyway
Ms Rossington (pictured before) said her implants looked odd after she lost a lot of weight
Took herself to A&E
After making the incision, Ms Rossington pushed down on her implant until it popped out.
She then took a deep breath and did the same with the left implant, which was intact and came out straight away.
Ms Rossington then made makeshift dressings under her breasts, putting on a bra to keep them in place, and drove herself to the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire.
Before leaving, she left her husband, 38, who was working a night shift, a note to say she had to go to A&E but not to worry.
Shaking, she handed the A&E desk clerk a note detailing what she had done.
At first they thought she meant she had removed her contraceptive implant and could not believe it when Ms Rossington said: ‘No, my boobs!’
Doctors squirted saline in the ruptured side to remove the silicone and changed Ms Rossington’s dressings, before she was discharged at 1am without stitches.
Ms Rossington has since had a scan at the Pilgrims Hospital’s breast clinic that shows none of the silicone is still inside her body and her scars are healing well.
Ms Rossington (after) claims she now loves her breasts, with her scars healing well
Ms Rossington performed the procedure while looking in a mirror, thinking she was dreaming
‘If I want to say one thing, it’s don’t get implants, ever’
Ms Rossington said: ‘I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done. I think it raises awareness of exactly how desperate some ladies can get.
‘If I want to say one thing, it’s don’t get implants, ever. I see these adverts on TV for MYA [a cosmetic-surgery specialist] and these girls bouncing around on horses saying “I got breast implants and life is great!”
‘And I just think “You’ll regret it!” I wouldn’t advise anybody to get them.
‘And once you’re desperate to get them out you basically get “Well you paid to have them put in, so you should pay to get them out”.
She said: ‘That’s why I felt that I didn’t really want to go through the NHS because of that stigma attached to it. To be honest I think the NHS should only pay for explants in emergencies.
‘I didn’t want to end up costing the NHS loads of money and I just hated [the implants] so much I wanted them out there and then.
‘I probably saved them thousands. The nurses at the hospital even said that in A&E, trying to lighten the mood.
‘Now they’re gone I just love it. I’ll be honest, they don’t look pretty; there’s a lot of saggy skin.
‘But I would never have implants again. They were the worst mistake I ever made.’
Ms Rossington wants women to think very carefully before undergoing any cosmetic surgery
She claims implants are the ‘worst mistake I ever made’ and guarantees people regret them
‘As I lost weight they just looked ridiculous’
Ms Rossington’s husband paid for her to have breast implants, costing £2,400, in Brussels, which took her bust size from 36B to 36F.
She believed that after breastfeeding three children, her chest was saggy and deflated.
At the time, 5ft 2in Ms Rossington was a size 12-to-14 and felt her implants looked natural. Yet, within a few years, she lost weight and began to hate them.
Ms Rossington said: ‘At that time, all the big boobs were in fashion and I’d had three children and I thought “I want big boobs”.
‘For a time I thought they were great, but that soon wore off.
‘As I lost weight they just looked ridiculous. Plus I’d lost some of my own breast tissue so they’d started to sag really badly.
‘A year later I started to think “Oh God I’ve got to have these in now for the rest of my life”.
She said: ‘I just thought “What can I do?”
‘I would cover them up, wear tight bras and high-necked tops. But the last two years I got really serious about wanting them out.
‘They affected me mentally and physically. I was constantly trying to cover them up.
‘You know you see these women out with their low cut tops flaunting them? Well I wasn’t like that.
‘I was wearing bras that were too small to squash them in. I hated them so much. I was ashamed of my own body.’
‘She has been amazingly lucky to get away with it’
Plastic surgeon Dr Naveen Cavale, from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said it is possible the previous surgery affected the nerves at the base of Mrs Rossington’s breasts, preventing her from feeling pain during the implants’ removal.
Dr Cavale added performing such an at-home operation is extremely dangerous and carries a risk of infection, excessive bleeding and hitting arteries.
He added: ‘She has been amazingly lucky to get away with it.’
A spokesman for NHS England said the policy on the removal of breast implants is determined by the relevant clinical commissioning group where the individual is based.