Cosmetic surgery views sought after breast implant scare


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

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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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Privately administered cosmetic surgery needs tight policing. The plastic surgeons who make a good living out of other people's vanity must be accountable. The temptation to acquiesce with the client's wishes must be great, especially when potentially large fees are involved. Look at what they did to Michael Jackson. There comes a time when they should say "No!", and offer counselling instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    There ought to be a standard across the board for cosmetic surgeons. IMHO the NHS should not touch elective cosmetic surgery such as boobs, tummy tucks etc unless there is a medical need such as reconstruction after mastectomy. The NHS should strictly be for medical need not vanity wishes such as nose/boob jobs, tummy tucks or IVF.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    those without cosmetic surgery, cast the first stone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.


    I sympathise with your daughter, trying to buy pretty bras is a pain with small/non-existant breasts (I can't fill an A cup), and I'm glad she's happy but it upsets me that it is even a concideration for people. Being flat chested doesn't make you less of a woman, it doesn't need to make you unattractive. Most men don't actually care that much, its sad people think they need it.

  • Comment number 139.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    She wanted implants just to be 'normal'. Whose fault is that?

    It's the fault of whoever told her she wasn't normal in the first place! If these are her friends, I personally don't think they are worth keeping. Instead of what she hasn't got, she really needs to focus on what she has got and use that as ammunition.

  • Comment number 137.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    118. Barry874 wrote: "I feel sorry for the PIP women, but they took the risk."

    No they didn't. They paid someone in good faith to do a proper job with the proper materials. "Risk" should not be part of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    I have had private cosmetic surgery (breast reduction on medical grounds). When I developed an infection, I was looked after by the private hospital's after care team, and not referred to the NHS. This was as it should be. Maybe you get what you pay for?

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Romana, I agreed totally with your views about putting up with what you have. Until spending hours with my daughter trying to buy bras and beachwear, and her desparation over her figure. Then witnessing her ecstacy at having breasts, and seeing her 'blossoming' as an individual has made me rethink my views on this. However I would not expect the NHS to pay for thism or future replacements

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Myself, and probably many men, would like a bigger penis ... just as some women want bigger breasts. But whereas the NHS will provide the bigger breasts they do not provide bigger penises. Is that fair?

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    @113. inchindown
    Just because someone has elected to have private surgery does not mean that they should have to just put up with poor or unregulated medical practices by those touting their services as professionals.
    If part of the cost of the surgery was compulsive medical insurance then, in the event something was wrong they covered & no-one would need to pick up the bill

  • Comment number 131.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I don't mind women getting implants, just as I don't mind them using make up, but I don't think I should be expected to pay for it.

    If they accidentally stab themselves in the eye with a make up thing then sure the NHS should help fix them, but if their implant explodes because it's faulty I think the company who made it should fix them up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    The NHS shouldn't carry out frivolous operations like breast implants, hair implants and sex change surgery as there is no medical requirement and takes vital money away from life-saving procedures like cancel treatment.

    If people want those types of surgery then they should pay for them privately. No wonder the NHS is in such a mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    @31. Bill Walker

    "Some women have breast implants [for psychological reasons].
    If there was a male enhancement implant available [etc]."

    The problem is psycology, not bodily construction, and it can be fixed far more cheaply & ethically.
    And if I weren't well endowed enough, that shouldn't be the NHS's problem (except perhaps for a psychiatrist to tell me to take the measurement differently!).

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    If there is a good reason for cosmetic surgery e.g. to repair damaged tissue or correct a deformity then this should be allowed, and - depending on circumstance - offered on the NHS. Anyone having surgery for reasons of vanity should do so at their own risk and expence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    The NHS should not be used as a backstop/insurance policy for those seeking cosmetic improvements either here or abroad - that is not what it is there for.

    Anyone seeking such surgery should be compelled to have suitable insurance cover.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    People should not be allowed to go under the knife for vanity reasons full stop. I know from personal experience that it isn't ideal to have a "boyish" figure as a woman but you've just got to get on with life. It sounds cliché but there is always someone worse off than you and someone who wouldn't think twice about swapping with you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    A friend with a totally flat chest had to listen to humiliating & unkind comments - landing strip was a term used. She wanted implants just to be 'normal'. Whose fault is that? With a bit of cleavage I, on the other hand could get my own way far more than I should have.

    Breast implants aren't about vanity, but power & status. Women getting them know this, many posters here clearly do not.


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