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PIP Implants update

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

PIP implants were banned in 2010 after they were found to contain industrial rather than medical grade silicone gel. The implants were also reputed to have an increased risk of rupturing and a possible link to a rare form of cancer, a link now firmly discounted by medical experts in Europe. The eruption of the scandal in the media caused a great deal of distress for many women.

In December last year the Government began to urge private clinics that profited from selling the implants to take responsibility for consultations, their removal and replacement. In many cases women affected were left struggling for effective medical advice and uncertain about their legal rights.

Up to 40,000 women were originally believed to have been affected by the PIP implant scandal but this figure increased by approximately 7,000 in March this year. Of the women who received implants, approximately 95%, did so through private clinics. A number of those firms refused to remove the implants free of charge so many women were left with a worrying combination of medical and financial uncertainty.

The final report into the health effects of PIP implants, led by Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, has now been released. The expert group’s conclusions were as follows:

  • Exhaustive worldwide testing of the PIP gel material has not revealed anything that could cause a long-term threat to human health – they are not toxic or carcinogenic.
  • PIP implants do have a higher rupture rate, approximately 2 times higher.
  • PIP implants have a higher concentration of siloxanes, a compound found in many consumer products such as deodorant, but this does not present a health risk.
  • Although the gel has not been found to be harmful or to contain toxic substances the inferior strength of the implants led the experts to consider them a substandard product.
  • If the implants do rupture, they have been found to cause local reactions in the area of the implant, potentially resulting in symptoms such as tenderness or swollen lymph glands. There is no evidence that this causes more serious general health concerns.

According to the report, the advice regarding the implants remains the same. However, the expert group noted that women who had received the implants did so with an expectation that the implants contained medical grade silicone. It considered that anxiety caused by the possible health effects was a health risk in itself. It also noted that providers of cosmetic surgery have recognised a duty of care to minimise the health risk to their patients.

If you have been affected by this issue and would like advice or further information, Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can help you. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.