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Advice for women who have breast implants

Friday, 27 January 2012

Front of NoblesThere is global public concern over breast implants made and distributed by the French company Poly Implant Prosthése (PIP) from 2001 until production was suspended in March 2010. These implants contained industrial silicone rather than medical-grade fillers and there are concerns that they may be more prone to rupture and leakage.

The latest advice from the UK NHS and plastic surgery experts is that women with PIP breast implants do not need to have them removed unless they have symptoms such as pain and tenderness which may indicate a rupture of the implant or other problems. A rupture is a split that occurs in the implant’s casing. A rupture can be caused if:

  • the implant’s shell gets weaker over time – most breast implants, of whatever make, need to be removed or replaced after 10 - 15 years
  • the implant is damaged during the operation
  • there is a flaw in the implant
  • the breast is injured

Some of the signs of implant ruptures or leakage include:

  • lumpiness of the breast
  • lumpiness or swelling in the area around the breast
  • change in shape of the breast
  • deflation of the breast
  • redness
  • tenderness of the breast
  • swelling of the breast
  • pain or sensitivity

It is emphasised that there is no link between PIP implants and cancer and there is no clear evidence of an increased risk of harm compared to other brands of breast implants.

The Isle of Man Department of Health advice to women who are concerned about potential or actual problems with their implants is to take three steps to reassure themselves:

  1. Find out if you have PIP implants by checking your medical notes. You can also obtain this information free of charge from the clinic which inserted your implants, or through your GP. We have been assured that no PIP implants were used by either of the centres the Isle of Man Health Services uses for breast reconstruction – the Linda McCartney Centre and the Plastic Surgery Unit of Whiston Hospital. If, however, you had PIP implants provided by a UK NHS provider elsewhere in the UK, perhaps as part of breast reconstruction following cancer surgery, then you will receive a letter from the UK NHS in the next few weeks advising you of this. The UK NHS has stated that it will offer to remove NHS-provided implants free of charge.
  2. Speak to your specialist or GP, if you had your implants provided by the UK NHS, or to your private clinic if you had them provided privately.
  3. Agree with your specialist or GP what’s best for you. Get advice on whether or not you need a scan, then discuss the appropriate action with your doctor. If your implants were provided privately, then ask your provider if they will remove them for free. The following private clinics have said they will replace PIP implants free if clinically necessary: Holly House, Highgate Hospitals, Make Yourself Amazing (MYA Cosmetic Surgery), Ramsay Health Care, Spire Healthcare, BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Healthcare and HCA International.

If a private clinic no longer exists or refuses to remove the PIP implants, the Isle of Man Health Service advises that women to speak to their GP. The Health Service will remove the implants if it is clinically necessary. The Isle of Man Health Service will not, however, replace implants unless it is clinically necessary.

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