What is Polypropylene?
“I just want to say one word to you.”
“Are you listening?”
Everyone remembers that famous exchange from The Graduate. “Plastics” is the famously unsolicited advice that young Benjamin Braddock received at his graduation party from Mr. McGuire, one of his parents’ friends. Upon hearing it, he replied, “Exactly how do you mean?”
It’s still a good question.
Plastics transformed the twentieth century, and they continue to shape the way we live. But certain kinds of plastics, especially when they’re used improperly in medical and surgical procedures, can be far more hazardous than helpful. One such plastic, called polypropylene, can cause serious harm, yet surgeons have used it for years in hernia and incontinence operations.
What exactly is polypropylene? And why does it present such a serious health risk?
Polypropylene is sterile, so it’s supposed to be non-reactive, meaning that patients are not supposed to respond negatively to it being introduced into their bodies. Yet, as many of our clients can attest, polypropylene can cause a lot of pain and a lot of problems.
Polypropylene has a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. You might know it from the roles it plays as storage tubs, food canisters, strong but lightweight rope, and in a wide variety of synthetic fabrics. You probably also know it as fishing line. It’s strong, flexible, and resistant to most solvents.
The medical industry uses polypropylene in a wide variety of products, including vials, beakers, and tubes of all kinds. And polypropylene is great for vials and beakers and tubes. But it’s not so great when it’s woven into a fabric mesh.
Even though polypropylene is supposed to be non-reactive, the Food and Drug Administration has found that, when left inside the human body for an extended period of time, the material can degrade. Not only that, but the polypropylene used in hernia and transvaginal mesh fabric can actually erode the tissue that surrounds it.
In other words, a “safe” device that’s meant to aid in healing can actually disintegrate inside the body – and, what’s more, it can destroy internal tissue along with it.
When polypropylene eats away at the tissues of the body, it can cause severe and chronic pain, chronic infection, emergency hospitalization, unsightly or harmful scar tissue, and serious discomfort during urination and/or intercourse.
If you’ve had surgery for incontinence or for a hernia, and you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that you think might be caused by polypropylene inside your body, contact TheLawFirm.com.
Plastics weren’t the answer for Benjamin Braddock. And they might not be the answer for you.
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