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A woman who feared her breast implants were making her ill says she used a razor to remove the silicone gel herself.

Laura Thorpe said she performed the surgery on herself April 10 after her insurance company refused to pay for the procedure.The operation occurred a day after she visited a plastic surgeon to learn how it was done, she said.

"I just listened and went home and did it myself," Thorpe said in an interview in Friday's Albuquerque Journal. She said she did it alone because she didn't want to be a "wimp."

The newspaper interviewed the 39-year-old woman Thursday in her mobile home near Bloomfield, 130 miles northwest of Albuquerque. The Associated Press was unable to reach her for comment because she doesn't have a telephone.

Her husband, William, a registered nurse, told the newspaper his wife had previously asked him to help her remove the implants. He said he told her, "We'll get someone to do it," but she replied that they didn't have the money.

Laura Thorpe - whose husband added that she once tried unsuccessfully to remove a wisdom tooth with pliers - said she waited until her husband and three children had gone to bed before making an incision with a scalpel she fashioned from a disposable razor.

She said she took Valium to help keep the shaking to a minimum. The day before, she visited a plastic surgeon in Albuquerque to discuss a possible operation, she said.

"The pain was like fire" when she cut herself, she said, and she nearly passed out. She went to bed for awhile, then got up and attempted to remove the other implant, she said.

Thorpe said she squeezed the silicone gel from the first implant, but was unable to get the plastic bag that had held the gel. The next day, she said, a doctor removed the plastic bags at his office.

The newspaper said the doctor was out of town and unavailable for comment Thursday.

Silicone gel breast implants have come under scrutiny after questions were raised about possible links to autoimmune disorders and cancer.