Model’s Second Leg Amputated After Tampon Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome: How Does This Happen?

Using tampons seems like such an ordinary part of life for millions of women, but there can be a rare dark side to their use.

Doctors in Operating Room
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Using tampons seems like such an ordinary part of life for millions of women, but there can be a rare dark side to their use.

Her name is Lauren Wasser, and she was a 24-years-old model when she contracted a life-threatening condition called toxic shock syndrome from wearing a superabsorbent tampon. Laurie learned from the doctors that her right leg and the toes on her left foot needed to be amputated to save her life. At the time, the doctors wanted to take both her legs, but she fought to keep her left leg despite missing her toes on that foot.

That was five years ago, and last week, Lauren’s second leg was amputated after months of enduring the excruciatingly painful condition of toxic shock syndrome that had taken over her remaining leg. Now 29, Lauren is undergoing another life-changing transformation from one amputated leg to two legs now gone, according to Fox News.

She is keeping a positive mindset around what she is going through. Since her first amputation, Lauren has been a voice speaking out about the dangers and risks of wearing tampons. She has made it her mission to pass the word along that there are risks you take when wearing tampons.

Lauren’s partner, Jennifer Rovero, is a photographer, and she has documented Lauren’s latest journey through this medical process with her photos. She has posted pictures from both before and after Lauren’s recent surgery amputating her leg. You can see the pictures from her Instagram account posted in this article.

On Thursday of last week, the amputation was a success, and Lauren came out of the operating room just fine — but with a long recovery ahead of her.

What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, toxic shock syndrome is a life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections, and while it is an extremely serious condition, it is also a rare condition. Toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria are often the culprit of this condition, but the condition can also stem from toxins produced by group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria.

Cases of toxic shock syndrome are often linked to the use of superabsorbent tampons. When this was first discovered some years back, manufacturers pulled certain types of tampons off the market that were thought to have the potential for breeding toxic shock syndrome in women who used these brands. Since that time, the incidence of toxic shock syndrome in menstruating women has declined.

Toxic shock syndrome is not just tampon related and it is not just a women’s condition. It is a condition that can affect anyone, including children, men, and postmenopausal women. Skin wounds and surgery are also risk factors for toxic shock syndrome.

What Are The Possible Signs Of Toxic Shock Syndrome?

The Mayo Clinic reports that there are signs possibly indicating that toxic shock syndrome has developed. It is especially important to call your physician if you develop these symptoms after you’ve recently used tampons or if you have a skin or wound infection. The symptoms are listed below.

  • A sudden high fever
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth, and throat

Toxic shock syndrome can progress rapidly and some of the risk factors include having had recent surgery or cuts and burns. Other risk factors include using contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, or superabsorbent tampons. You may also be at risk if you have a viral infection like chicken pox or the flu.