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 123.

    I was teen in the 60s. Teens have always been fashion-conscious and preoccupied with their appearance. Back then it had to be the "right" hair-style, the "right" clothes, listening to the "right" music etc. However, today, so many teens (largely girls) talk about having "procedures", ie, some form of cosmetic enhancement, as though it's this week's disposable fashion item. That's progress?!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    It is misleading to blame surgeons and hosptials for the PIP implant scandal. The manufacturing company broke EU regulations relating to their license and did not follow legally binding quality procedures. The French goverment failed to pick up the isssues during their annual inspection. If this had been a british company the directors would have been prosecuted

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Generally we have a reasonably balanced view in this country.

    If it is re-constructive after an accident or surgery, then it is NHS, if it is vanity, it is private.

    And private should STAY private - the tax payers and NHS should NOT pick up the tab.

    However, that means that the private industry should be properly regulated to make sure the patients are covered if it goes wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    a lot of vindictive and judgemental talk about withholding treatment to people who have complications from cosmetic surgery, under the claim of it being "vanity". would they be so quick to judge if that included piercings, tattoos, etc? - whether those people admit it, most judge others, directly or indirectly, on superficial things like appearances. it's that attitude, society should deal with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    115.Cynicism isn't an excuse for ignorance.

    Quite right - it appears you may also be ignorant of what is going on out there with some people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Why do women feel they need cosmetic surgery? Because women who've had it are over-depicted in the media and that's how some women think they should look. I prefer natural women rather than plastic fantastic, but that's just me. If you make the choice to have cosmetic surgery, you accept (and sign to accept) the possible risks. I feel sorry for the PIP women, but they took the risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    The NHS should not perform vanity plastic surgery, unless there are genuine psychological reasons, such as disfigurement, All plastic surgery must be regulated to ensure it is up to medical and ethical standards, and to avoid racketeering. The NHS would correct fewer appalling mistakes of operations from abroad. Only over 18s should be allowed to have vanity cosmetic surgery - anywhere, ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    people should accept their physical characteristics and not be so vain. secular culture uses beauty to sell, even deceiving people by airbrushing, this creates an impossible ideal, breeds insecurity

    It is hard with all the tv, movie, and advertising, but people need to move value from external to character

    desire/lust is something else, moulded over time and experience

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    111. "you go to your GP, tell him you can't go on without XYZ and feel emotionally damaged at being this way and hey presto you are refered"

    This really is vile nonsense. Cynicism isn't an excuse for ignorance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Just to impress others is wrong, for reason of looking 'normal' is right! One of my ex girlfriends wanted a bigger rack, I though it was big enough already, she insisted so I ditched her for safety, I didn't want smothering in my sleep!

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    If people are daft enough to go to some fly-by-night quack for this stuff, then they get what they deserve. I don't care what happens as long as my taxes are not used to put things right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Make a one off surcharge for medical insurance registered for the NHS whenever an operation is performed outside the NHS. This way, patients are covered and the NHS funded. Win-win for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Peter_Sym There's virtually no 'vanity' cosmetic surgery on the NHS.
    Oh Dear you really don't understand the system - you go to your GP, tell him you can't go on without XYZ and feel emotionally damaged at being this way and hey presto you are refered. People do this because they know they can, and modern views being what they are, this will continue until it is regulated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Shame our media driven society don't promote people more on their abilities rather than their looks. maybe less people would feel so insecure then would'nt want to become 'plastic'.
    I love watching old black and white British movies. Actors were picked for 'character' and acting ability rather than how 'pretty' they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I don't know if the Dr who operated on me was wearing cosmetics, I was asleep at the time. Hope this helps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It doesn't matter to me if there is tighter regulation. It's no skin off my nose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    #76 - Thank you - funniest comment I've ever read on here!

    To the majority of you that keep referring to breast surgery, there are other kinds you know?

    Also, the NHS treats over 3 million people per week in England. Even if all the 47,000 women with PIP implants did receive consultations / surgery that so many are against - that's 0.15% of the NHS's usual weekly quota...

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    98. "Cosmetic, by definition is needless."

    Well no, by definition, cosmetic means to do with appearance. So reconstruction following a mastectomy *is* cosmetic. It doesn't mean that breast enlargments are equally worthy; but you should be aware that when someone says "cosmetic", it can mean a lot of things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Oh, and a number of people have suggested that we should all grow old gracefully ...

    Stuff that! I intend to grow old as disgracefully as possible!

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Only if breast cancer or similar disease should NHS be involved. Just having inplants for vanity should only be done privately, private company also paying if things go wrong not NHS. Even if patient has to be taken to NHS hospital for treatment if things go wrong private company to foot bill. This also applies to tummy tucks/bands where people are too lazy to diet.


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