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 163.

    I think the key word here is "surgery". ALL surgery is potentially risky. It's invasive and unnatural. Cosmetic surgery is no different in principle to having your appendix removed! The trouble is, it seems to be perceived as a while-you-wait procedure, like getting your tyres changed. Being anesthetized and having chemical compounds stuffed into your body is, by definition, highly dangerous!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Cosmetic surgery should not be available on the NHS, but if someone wishes to spend their own money on it, I don't think we should stand in their way. It's people own money and they should be free to spend it as they wish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    IMHO, unless it's for medical reasons, cosmetic surgey should be viewed as just that. The NHS don't pay for tattoos, piercings, haircuts, toupees, manicures, etc, and shouldn't be expected to pay for people wanting to muck around with their bodies surgically. And when it all goes wrong they shouldn't be expected to pick up the bill either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Those who are foolish and vain enough to have mild imperfections removed solely for cosmetic reasons and afterwards suffer the consequences deserve all they get. There is nothing wrong with small breasts, or small anything else, for that matter. It's the person inside that counts. Chasing after glamour when one is over the hill is quite pathetic. Grow old gracefully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    If a car mechanic unknowingly used a part that was illegally made, and caused an accident, the NHS would treat the driver. Sure, they could sue the manufacturer - if the company still existed!

    Generally I think building self esteem is much better than getting cosmetic surgery. But many people get hurt doing stupid, unnecessary things and they don't get all the hate reserved for these women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    If women (or men) are going to be worked on like a car then they should be subject to an Medical MOT every year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    @124. bananabunch

    I do however agree with your point that implants aren't about vanity. Implants are generally about insecurity, a vain person already thinks they're beautiful and therfore wouldn't feel the need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    129@Indication Cosmetic surgery is not "frivolous". It is in the vast majority of cases paid for privately. I can't believe some of the attitudes of people here. Obviously they have been lucky never been bullied over their appearance,

    The real issue here is that the manufacturer PIP behaved illegally & got away with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    what people also need to remember about the PIP implants is that they were all EU regulated which is why part of the responsibility has landed with the public sector they approved the use of the implants in the first place so why shouldnt they accept some of the responsibility for their own mistake? and i dont think anyone could have forseen what happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    There is a real need for cosmetic surgery for those disfigured in an accident or perhaps at birth or by surgery itself. However if it is used as a tool by the vain to enhance their looks it should not be available on the NHS, let them pay for that act themselves. The whole, both private surgeons and the NHS should be regulated already, or do they let anyone with a scalpel operate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Personally, I find these artificial, gargantuan breasts revolting and repulsive. I just can’t see why women want to mutilate themselves in this way: slim women are elegant and beautiful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    The PIP implants debacle really was a scandal. "They were found to have double the rupture rate of other implants." and used an "unauthorised " filler. If your car was fitted with brake discs of made from an unauthorised material and had twice the failure rate it would be recalled, why did the same not apply to breasts? There should clearly be strict regulation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Laughingman makes a good point re male baldness. Fortunately, it has not happened to me. However, for those that are so affected, particularly younger men, it can have as negative an effect on their self-esteem just as a young woman with a flat chest. If he can afford it, a man can opt for a hair transplant, hair weave or just buy a toupee! If it goes wrong it's not down to the NHS to fix it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Then witnessing her ecstacy at having breasts, and seeing her 'blossoming' as an individual has made me rethink my views on this.

    Yes I too sympathise with your daughter - I can see how your view may have balanced with the significant change in her happiness and confidence. Its just sad that cosmetic surgery seems to be the only solution for this change in attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Surgery to turn someone into a barbie doll and other narcissistic behaviour should be private only, if it goes wrong then the person should pay to correct it. I cannot believe the cheek of those that wanted the tax payer and NHS to foot the bill for the PIP hiatus which, in a lot of cases, were by 'whim' and not medical necessity - they deserve nothing and should be content with what they've got.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    @124. bananabunch
    "A friend with a totally flat chested.."

    Were these unkind comments from you? You seems to believe that breasts make the woman. It sounds to me like she should have ditched her friends. I am totally flat chested and friends have asked if I've considered work, but noone has ever been mean about it. I am also successful in my career and very popular with the men - go figure! :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Hastings 136
    I’m sorry, but the PIP women did take the risk. They decided to have major surgery, many for reasons of vanity. It should be their responsibility to research the procedure thoroughly and take out adequate insurance, not rely on my money to bail them out when it goes wrong.

  • Comment number 146.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    You are not inadequete, you are not ugly, or distorted or in any other way unattractive. There is no such thing as unattractive.

    5 billion years of evolution went into you. Don't worry about what other people think of it, just look after it and it will look after you. Don't be ashamed of what you are and don't risk it on the opinions of others.

    Confidence, is attractive. And it's free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    @124 bananabunch

    Breast implants aren't about vanity, but power & status. Women getting them know this, many posters here clearly do not.
    I can see your point, but how is that any different from men going prematurely bald, people who need high strength glasses etc

    There are many physical factors that affect self esteem, but unless there is a medical need it isnt the responsibilty of the NHS.


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