Experts' advice on faulty French PIP breast implants


PIP breast implant

A committee of MPs has said women with faulty PIP breast implants should be able to have them removed and replaced in one operation.

At the moment, the health service will only remove them - but only if there's a clinical need and the private clinic who fitted them refuses to help.

It's believed 47,000 women in Britain have the implants, made by the French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

The implants have an increased risk of rupturing in the body.

In Wales, patients can get them both removed and replaced on the NHS.

That's not the case in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Dozens of women with PIP breast implants recently told Newsbeat their GP had refused further tests, despite them complaining of pain or wanting them removed.

There are also concerns that some private clinics are bullying women who want the implants removed into paying for extra surgery.

Newsbeat put your queries to two experts in the field.

Fazel Fatah - President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and consultant plastic surgeon

Fazal Fatah

What is your guidance to people who have PIPs?

"First, not to panic. It's only those who have signs of rupture that need early advice.

"The first thing to do is contact your clinic or the surgeon who operated on them. They have a duty of care to give you proper advice."

How do I know if I have a rupture?

"Common symptoms of a rupture include pain, swelling, redness of breast, a burning sensation under the arm and enlargement of lymph glands under the arms."

What happens if I can't get hold of my clinic or the surgeon who put in my implants?

"If you have been treated in the private sector but can no longer trace your surgeon, the NHS has agreed to treat you.

"You need to contact your GP first who should then refer you to a local NHS clinic."

Many people say they have symptoms of a rupture but are being turned away from their GP and from their clinic. What do you say to that?

"The GP must give advice to you as part of the directive from the Department of Health.

"Not every single PIP implant will need to come out especially if it hasn't ruptured but if you do want to get your implants removed, the NHS has a duty to remove your implants for you."

Ruth Waters, Consultant plastic surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham

Ruth Waters

Ruth was one of the first people who noticed there was a problem with PIP implants in 2005.

Will a scan detect a rupture and what are the options for scanning?

"Scans are a good way to detect a rupture but are not 100% fool-proof.

"There are two options to detect a rupture: Ultrasound is reasonably available and cheap but it is not that accurate and depends on how experienced the person is who does it.

"The MRI scan is more reliable but not as easily available and very expensive."

Would you advise people to pay to get them fixed or wait?

"If I had a PIP, I would want them removed even if there wasn't a rupture because they are not a good quality implant and the shell of the implant is not strong so it could lead to problems in the future.

"There is no risk to a patient's general health if there is a small leak of silicon.

"However, if it is left for a long period, the surgery can get more complicated to do."

Do you think there needs to be clearer guidelines for people to know what to do?

"The advice from the government is that all women with PIP implants should seek help from their GP, and then be referred on to the clinic who did the operation or the NHS.

"The problem comes when the clinic says they are not going to help and the NHS gets inundated with a volume of work they can't deal with it.

"I think this is the right advice but difficult because of the volume of enquiries."

What is your advice to people who are worried?

"If women have PIP implants, they must seek help and get expert advice.

"First go to your GP and seek advice.

"Keep pursuing a clinic, GP, and don't take no for an answer."