Cosmetic surgery views sought after breast implant scare


Sir Bruce Keogh, head of the review: "There are some pretty grubby practices going on"

Related Stories

People are being asked for their views on the cosmetic surgery industry after the recent PIP scandal, where thousands of women were given breast implants containing substandard material.

The review, requested by the health secretary, will look at whether tighter regulation is needed in England.

And it will ask if people are given enough information about surgery.

About 7,000 women in England are having checks for faulty breast implants and hundreds have now had them removed.

Although the unauthorised silicone filler used in the PIP breast implants is not thought to be toxic or cancer-causing, there were safety concerns.

Start Quote

I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the lifelong implications it can have”

End Quote Sir Bruce Keogh NHS Medical Director

They were found to have double the rupture rate of other implants.

Around 47,000 women in the UK have PIP breast implants, mostly done privately rather than on the NHS.

Lessons to learn

The problem came to light at the end of 2011, shortly after the French government recommended all women with PIP implants have them removed as a precaution.

But there were warnings made by surgeons to UK authorities about adverse effects for many years before this.

Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, who is leading the English review which will report in early 2013, said: "The recent problems with PIP breast implants have shone a light on the cosmetic surgery industry.

"Many questions have been raised, particularly around the regulation of clinics, whether all practitioners are adequately qualified, how well people are advised when money is changing hands, aggressive marketing techniques, and what protection is available when things go wrong.

"I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the lifelong implications it can have. That's why I have put together this review committee to advise me in making recommendations to government on how we can better protect people who choose to have surgery or cosmetic interventions.

Cost an issue

"We want to hear views from everyone, particularly people who have experience of the cosmetic surgery industry or of other cosmetic interventions - good and bad - so we can learn what works best."

A poll by ComRes of 1,762 people shows that many people consider the cost of surgery more important than the qualifications of the people doing it or how they will be looked after.

Two-thirds of those questioned considered cost as a factor when deciding whether or not to have cosmetic surgery. Half said they would take the qualifications of their doctor into consideration and less than half would consider the quality of their aftercare when reaching a decision.

And as a result of the PIP breast implant scandal, almost half of women who said they would have considered cosmetic surgery before, say that they are now less likely to have it.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    There will always be a market for people wanting private cosmetic surgery for one reason or another. However I do believe that the medical information regarding their particular surgery/treatment should be strictly regulated by an independent professional body and consistent across whatever practitioner you may chose to go to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I thought that all breast implants have a finite life and therefore need removal/replacement some future date. The recipients must factor in this future cost into the total. If the clinic performing these operations aren't making this clear at time of sale then they are irresponsible. Those with PIP implants should have known about this potential cost and not have expected it on the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    @8. Del

    I am British and I welcome any nationality or sex. Some voters will vote in their own self interest at the expense of the greater interest. I am happy as a taxpayer to contribute to necessary cosmetic surgery such as casualties, but not for those of simple vanity, for which there is a private market. I will not be shamed by claims of being misogynist and racist. Pure projection bias.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    private cosmetic companies should be responsible and accountable for all the work they undertake, including the products used. they took the money quickly enough but most of them then washed their hands when the PiP scandal broke. The NHS should not have to pick up the tab when things go wrong but then neither should the women who paid for a product that wasnt fit for purpose

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    #44 has it spot on
    Reconstructive surgery on the NHS is a very worthwhile activity and I have no problems with.

    But VANITY is not an illness and a lot of people ready need to get a life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.


    In my view, repairing or restoring a persons appearance is not cosmetic surgery though, it's reconstructive.

    Cosmetic, by definition is needless.

    We as a society should be encouraging people to be proud of the most impressive instrument they will ever own, not condoning them changing it through vanity or the misconception of attractiveness.

    Normal allows for variance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    @93 - for ALL private led procedures not just PS.

    At most private hopsitals anything that goes wrong in a procedure, the majority of private hospitals don't life-saving equipment/expertise on hand, call 999 and get an NHS ambulance which goes to an NHS hospital. The tax payer picks up the bill and the private companies pay very little or nothing towards it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    When my daughter was 18, she told me that she had found the cheapest breast implant she could, and had saved the money for it. Her friend would go with her for the surgery, and would look after her afterwards. As a mother, although I was very opposed to it, I could not let that happen, and I lent her money, as long as she had a second consultation. For her it was the right thing,

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    #91 I think asking a Harley street plastic surgeon what reforms his industry needs is on par with asking the CEO of Barclays to plan bank reform! A little bit of a vested interest there. As with bank customers I think the views of plastic surgery patients (I'm not one BTW) would be most revealing of the problems the industry has.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    If you have surgery privately and something goes wrong you should have some kind of guantee or warantee for the work. The NHS should not be expected to repair botched work or poor quality materials.Surgery on the NHS for non life saving operations should also have a tighter review, with stricter psychological testing before aproval (as anything can be life saving if its to prevent suicide...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Some PS if offered on the NHS rightly so, i.e. breast reoncstruction after a mastectomy.

    Other PS happens at private clinics i.e. boob enlargements for no medical reason.

    However private clinics should be forced to offer up front bonds to ensure the NHS doesn't have to pick uip the tab when private companies mess up as with the PIP implants...that's the only change we need....

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Tina Sheldon

    "Someone should be held accountable"

    How about the parson who ultimately makes the decision on the surgery??

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    84. I agree, but I can't help thinking it would make more sense to jjust ask, you know, doctors and such.

    Regular people's opinions might be useful if they based them on the facts, rather than their existing (irrelevant) prejudices. So far in these comments we've seen thinly veiled misogyny, nationalism and the usual stupid comments about depression, so... not much faith in that approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Unless it is done purely on the basis of medical need, rather than cosmetic vanity, the NHS should have no involvement in plastic surgery; it has enough pressures already without having to worry about setting aside precious funds to deal with people's perceived self-inadequacy as measured by the fashion industry's 'standards'!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    "Plastic surgery should not be provided by the NHS nor backed by tax money with the exception of reconstructive surgery."

    There's more to Plastic Surgery than boob and nose jobs. Even if someone *does* get a breast implant or reduction, then context is everything: they could have had a mastectomy or undergoing gender reassignment or a man with gynecomastia etc

    You can't just apply a blanket "No"

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Cosmetic surgery, mostly for those with no or very little self esteem. What a waste of time money and effort. Use it what it was designed for, for repairing and restoring, not to make some fat @55 happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the 2004 US TV show "The Swan". It should change your perception on cosmetic surgery forever. These wonderful people take some unattractive women with deep psychological problems and cut their faces to make them as "beautiful" as they always wanted to be. They then judge them on their new look, and one gets sent home.

    Try not to throw up at the concept.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Cosmetic surgery should not be on the NHS unless it is reconstructive after injury or surgery

    Private cosmetic surgeons should be regulated & have medical insurance cover for circumstances like the PIP fiasco.

    The NHS should not be expected to pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong, people electing for cosmetic surgery should take out insurance to cover any rectification work

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Cosmetic Surgery should not be used for enhancing an individual's looks. It should be used to rectify genetic flaws or accident damage where possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    #83 Agreed 100%.

    This was why my original post said the survey should be limited to those who've had plastic surgery not those who simply have completely baseless opinions on plastic surgery from something they read in a tabloid once.


Page 7 of 12


More Health stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.