PIP implants: update
PIP breast implants
I have never used PIP breast implants and all my patients may be assured that they have not received such an implant.
Like many surgeons I have agreed to remove and replace PIP implants at a very much reduced cost, recognising that despite reassuring women about the lack of any evidence of harm from these devices, many women remain sceptical and want them out soon.
The full report of the government’s investigation into PIP implants can be found at http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/06/pip-report/ and I hope this will ad weight to the reassurance offered to those patients who had such devices implanted elsewhere.
I sat on the committee that advises the government at the time these implant failures came to light and I know the great lengths gone to to establish as quickly as possible what risks there might be to women. It soon became clear that tests around the world showed no serious threat to health, other than a local reaction (tenderness and inflammation, occasional swollen gland in the armpit). Most importantly the tests used to tell whether something might cause cancer are reported as negative.
When we efer to an implant rupturing it sounds as if the implant has burst: in fact most of the “ruptures” are failure of the silicone rubber bag that contains the gel, and are not caused by trauma.
Failure can happen in any breast implant, after which the gel escaped in to the cavity behind the breast where the implant sits. This cavity is sealed off from the rest of the body by a shell of tough scar tissue (the capsule) and in many cases the gel just remains there and the patient may never be aware there has been an implant failure. They suffer no known harm and have no symptoms.
What was different in PIP implants was that the gel was irritant to the capsule and sometimes some silicone products penetrated the capsule and ended up in the lymph nodes in the armpit. So far we have seen no evidence of health damage from this (and I doubt we will) , but understandably it is alarming for the patient.
My advice to patients with PIP implants? Read the government’s largely reassuring report at http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/06/pip-report/ , consult a plastic surgeon in a reputable hospital (either privately or on the NHS, and your GP will be well placed to offer advice here) and after that consultation consider the advice you received carefully. In the absence of known health risks you do not need to be forced into a quick or wrong decision and you can afford to take time to consider the facts.