Dangers of PIP implants in the UK

Worries about Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) implants emerged at the end of last year after an investigation was carried out into the products in France, with detailed evidence suggesting that the implants are more prone to rupturing, which could have potential side effects.

The review found that a ruptured implant shows no risk of being toxic, however, the reportsalso indicated that it could not be certain that the manufacturer did not change the content of the implants, so therefore could not completely rule out the possibility that some versions could contain toxic substances that would be harmful to the body.

More than 300,000 PIP implants have been sold globally in 65 countries over the past 12 years. Europe was a major market but more than half of the implants went to South America.

It is thought that around 40,000 women in the UK have the implants, with about 95 per cent of them having been provided privately for purely cosmetic reasons.

Some of the symptoms people affected by rupturing have reported is lumpiness of the breast, swelling around the breast, a change in shape or deflation of the breast, tender or sensitive breasts and redness of the skin.

The implants thought to be affected were made, starting in 2001, by French firm Poly Implant Prosthese, with products made before this date thought to be unaffected by the increased likelihood of rupturing.

In a Medical Device Alert in March 2010, the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “Most breast implants manufactured by the company since 2001 have been filled with a silicone gel with a composition different from that approved.”

Reports suggest that the company began using a cheaper type of silicone gel intended for making mattresses.

Those worried about whether they are affected can take a few simple steps to discover if they are indeed one of the women with PIP implants.

First of all, checking medical notes will indicate the type of implants used, which can be obtained free of charge from the cosmetic clinic or a GP. The next step is to discuss the implants with a GP if the operation was performed by the NHS or with a private clinic if necessary.

It is then important to agree a plan of action and to decide whether or not the patient needs a scan to determine if the implant has ruptured, then discuss the removal of the affected implants.

A number of private clinics and the NHS are offering free removal of affected products if there is a medical need to do so.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who led the expert review group, said: “On the basis of the information we have, we do not think it is necessary to recommend the routine removal of these implants.

“But we understand that some women will be very concerned so we support the government’s position that the NHS will support removal of PIP implants if the patient has concerns and, with her doctor, she decides that it is right to do so.”

Recent figures published by the Department of Health indicate that almost 3,000 women with PIP breast implants have been forced to get help from the NHS because their private clinics have failed to help.

The figures show that 2,860 women have been referred to NHS specialists by their GPs, over 1,000 have had important scans to determine the danger they are in, 67 women have chosen to have their PIP implants removed and 522 have completed the process, with the vast majority having decided not to have their implants removed on the NHS.

Victims of the faulty breast implants are hoping a public inquiry will be launched into the issue and many are considering taking legal action against the clinics that performed their surgery.

Posted by Wayne Weir


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