At a time when more women than ever are getting breast implants, fewer voices than ever seem to be asking “Why?” And fewer still are asking “Are they safe?” ABSOLUTELY SAFE takes an open-minded, personal approach to the controversy over breast implant safety. Ultimately, ABSOLUTELY SAFE is the story of everyday women who find themselves and their breasts in the tangled and confusing intersection of health, money, science, and beauty.

At its heart, ABSOLUTELY SAFE is driven by the experience of the filmmaker’s own mother. Diagnosed in 1974 with breast tumors, Audrey Ciancutti underwent a double mastectomy with silicone-implant reconstruction surgery. A year later, her implants ruptured, and soon after, her health steadily declined. Like thousands of other women, Audrey believes her debilitating illnesses—joint pain, chronic fatigue, scleroderma-- are linked to her breast implants; however, most doctors and researchers deny this link. Among the debate by plastic surgeons, toxicologists, attorneys, implant manufacturers, whistle blowers, government officials and activists, ABSOLUTELY SAFE introduces more everyday women like Audrey who make choices about their breasts in our appearance driven culture.

27 year-old Deneé Dimiceli has long been insecure about her breast size, and she’s frank about why: a deep envy of pop culture icons and images of big-breasted women. Although her husband likes her breasts as they are and does not want her to take any risks by having surgery, Deneé chooses to go ahead with breast augmentation. Step by step, the film follows Deneé through the implantation process. With the help of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Franklin Rose, Deneé becomes the “Full C” she has longed to be. Months after surgery, Deneé is happy and healthy, though she initially lost sensation in her breasts.

As Deneé makes the choice to get breast implants, we meet Wendi Myers who has spent years longing for a life without implants. After suffering unexplained illnesses for years—dizziness, hair loss, fatigue—Wendi believes her silicone implants are making her sick and that they are ruptured, even though the implants appear to be in tact. With the financial help from her mother and the surgical skill of Dr. Edward Melmed, one of the few plastic surgeons in this country who argues that implants have severe flaws and cause illness in some women, Wendi makes a unique choice—to have her breast implants “ex-planted” and removed from her body forever. The remnants of Wendi’s implants, are an alarming discovery for Wendi and her family.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stands as the only traffic light at the implant intersection, for it is ultimately left to the FDA to analyze data and define risk. Billions are at stake as implant manufacturers lobby the FDA for approval of silicone implants and present studies which support no link between breast implants and disease. A data debate is at the heart of the FDA decision. Dissecting industry-sponsored safety research, a public interest watchdog acknowledges that the data does not prove a link between implants and illness, but probes the fact that the majority of the studies were based on short-term research. Meanwhile, physicians Dr. Ernest Lykissa and Dr. Michael Harbut maintain there are dangers associated with the platinum used in the making of breast implants. Dr. Lykissa, who studies chemical compositions of ruptured implants, wonders why there have not been any required studies on failed implants.

The story of ABSOLUTELY SAFE always returns to the women and girls who stand front and center—both willingly and unwillingly—in the traffic jam of beauty, media, risk, and “choice.” The quest for physical perfection leads the film’s characters to operating rooms, support groups, hospital beds, and public hearings. In a plastic surgeon’s waiting room, a patient is both enthusiastic about her own silicone implants and also shocked by tales of family friends with implant ruptures and sickness. At a support group of breast cancer survivors with failed breast implants, group leader and photographer Anne Stansell reveals that she never had the option to live without implants after mastectomy—her implants were presented as a given part of her treatment package. At a discussion with 8 year-old girls, the pre-teens flip through magazines rating beauty and breasts with sharp, judgmental tongue. Shockingly, the quest to be the “ideal beauty” begins long before breasts grow.

Even though the FDA recently lifted its restrictions on silicone implants and approved them for wide-scale use, many serious questions remain regarding breast implant safety. However, ABSOLUTELY SAFE reveals that the conversation on implant safety is far more complex than simple pros and cons. Rather, the real conversation, the most important conversation—with the most difficult and challenging questions—rests with viewers themselves, as all individuals in our culture ultimately face this confusing intersection of choice, risk, money, beauty, and health.

ABSOLUTELY SAFE sparks this long overdue cultural conversation.