The French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) have ceased trading amid the recent discovery that the silicone breast implants they have supplied to a number UK clinics have been found to contain an industrial material that is not suitable for surgical procedures.
The implants were used in cosmetic surgery clinics throughout the UK in the period 2001 to 2010.
When news of the defect in the product hit the UK press at the start of this year we were contacted by many women who were concerned for their safety; worried about the damage that could have already occurred and anxious about the prospect of having to face further surgery.
A large number of women contacted us seeking advice. Others had undergone scans which showed whether their implants had ruptured or not; some women had been so concerned they had undergone surgery to remove the implants, incurring the full cost of the procedure.
The Report has established that whilst the PIP implants show no evidence of significant risk to human health they have a higher risk of rupture and are more likely to leak silicone than any other implant on the market.
The Government have now recommended that all women with PIP implants should be contacted by the cosmetic clinic who provided their service and offered a specialist consultation together with any appropriate investigations to determine if the implants are still intact or whether any rupture has occurred. If there is sign of rupture then again, the Government have stressed that the clinic should offer an explanation to the woman and provide guidance on what options are available.
The Report suggests that should the patient wish to have the implants removed, the clinic should support that decision and carry out the surgery.
If that patient decides not to have the implants removed then she should be offered an annual follow up and guidance should be given to help her recognise early signs of potential rupture.
What is not clear is who is to be responsible for the cost of this procedure. It is our opinion that these recommendations should be provided free of charge to all women.
What is clear is that women are still expected to pay should they wish for the implants to be replaced. This is a costly procedure in the region of £4,000 not to mention the recovery time following the procedure.
Our advice to anyone with PIP implants is to contact the clinic where they had their surgery and request a consultation. A scan should be performed to determine if the implants have ruptured. Further advice should then be given dependent on the results of that scan.
Any woman who cannot get hold of the clinic, or receives a negative response from that clinic should contact their General Practitioner for further guidance.
Should they decide to proceed with the removal and replacement of the implants we would also recommend that they contact us for free advice regarding their rights to recovery of this cost and associated expenses.