[By Alison Chia]
The latest news is that women who received French breast implants have been linked to lymphoma and breast cancer and are being urged not to panic. According to a letter from the International Confederation for Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) distributed to plastic surgeons around the world, it was said that the French Health Authorities found out during an inspection that most of the breast implants produced by PIP since 2001 are not filled with the specific silicone gel which should be used for this purpose. These implants hence do not fulfill the requirements outlined in the European Medical Device Law.
French authorities are expected to announce that up to 30,000 women who received a Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) implant in France can have them taken out because of health concerns about high rates of implant rupture and cancer.
The move comes after eight cases of cancer in women fitted with PIP silicone implants have been reported in France, including the death of a woman from a rare form of lymphoma. More than 1,000 ruptures have also been reported in France. However the official advice from the UK’s industry body and the UK’s regulatory body for medicines is that removal is not necessary.
We speak to consultant plastic surgeon Dr Tan Ying Chien, from The Sloane Clinic Plastic Surgery Centre on what we need to know when considering breast augmentation.
Alison: Is there reason for women who have received these PIP implants to panic?
Dr Tan: PIP implants are a small proportion of all breast implants used in the UK and the French company manufacturing them was shut down last year. If women are worried or believe that their implants may have ruptured they should contact their implanting surgeons.
Alison: What are the dangers of these PIP implants?
Dr Tan: Women fitted with the PIP implants were told they would not rupture or leak. But they were withdrawn by the MHRA in 2010 after reports about leakages. The manufacturers went into liquidation soon after. An investigation by French authorities revealed the company had been using an unapproved form of silicone gel.
Alison: Are PIP implants common in your practice?
Dr Tan: The Sloane Clinic uses Natrelle breast implants made by Allergan, which is also the maker of Botox. Allergan, together with Mentor, have had their silicone breast implants approved by the US FDA since November 2006 for breast augmentation in women 22 years or older and for breast reconstruction in women of any age. Patients who have had these implants have been very satisfied with their results so far.
Alison: What are the three most important things to know before undergoing breast augmentation?
Dr Tan: You need to find a reputable and trustworthy plastic surgeon who is accredited to perform breast augmentation. You need to find out what type of breast implants is being used and whether these implants are FDA approved. Finally, you need to discuss with the surgeon about the best type of breast augmentation surgery for your body; some patients will benefit from having the implant under the muscle while others will benefit from having implant placed above the muscle. You need to discuss all these factors with your surgeon prior to surgery. So being able to communicate with your surgeon is very important for excellent cosmetic outcomes.