PIP breast implant worries for Norfolk women

A health scare over banned breast implants found to contain non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses has left thousands of women in the UK worrying that they will need to have the implants removed.

Breast implants by French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) were banned in 2010 after they were found to contain industrial grade silicone gel, rather than medical grade.

But last month the French authorities told women they should have the implants removed, as they had found a rupture rate of 5pc.

So far the UK authorities have insisted that there is no need for such action, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) saying its figures indicate just 1pc of implants in the UK have ruptured.

However, a wealth of differing opinions and data has left many women wondering if their implants really are safe.

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The good news is that no NHS hospital in Norfolk and Waveney has used PIP silicone implants, and neither has the private Spire Norwich Hospital at Colney.

But women in Norfolk and Suffolk could still have had the implants through other cosmetic surgery clinics.

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Dr Jenny Harries, director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: 'Some people may have concerns about silicone implants, perhaps because they had them arranged privately, in which case they should refer back to the clinic where they had the operation.'

Guidance for GPs, surgeons and NHS medical directors has been issued by the UK's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, who said: 'Women with Poly Implant Prosthese implants should not be unduly worried.

'We have no evidence of a link to cancer or an increased risk of rupture. If women are concerned they should speak to their surgeon.

'I will be writing to GPs so that they are aware of the concerns women may have and can talk them through with their patients.

'While we respect the French government's decision, no other country is taking similar steps because we currently have no evidence to support it.

'Because of this, and because removing these implants carries risk in itself, we are not advising routine removal of these implants.

'The secretary of state has been liaising with his French counterpart, and the MHRA is in contact with the French regulatory agency. Our experts will continue to examine any further evidence from France and across the world on this issue, and will keep this situation under close review.'

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has launched a review of the risks from faulty breast implants after receiving evidence from major cosmetic surgery firm Transform, which holds cosmetic surgery consultations in Norwich at the Roundwell Medical Centre in Costessey.

A statement from Transform said it had seen a 7pc rupture rate, based on 108 patients.

The statement said: 'Transform has not used PIP implants since 2005 with the exception of 108 patients out of the tens of thousands of procedures it has undertaken.

'The figure of 7pc was based on seven cases out of the 108 patients.'

It said it shared the figures with the MHRA and its advice to the regulator was that more information was required.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is in charge of the review, but there are fears that even this will not clear up the conflicting views on whether women should have the implants removed.

Consultant plastic surgeon Fazel Fatah, who is sitting on the Government-commissioned panel investigating the PIP implant scandal, said there were simply no firm figures in the UK on what proportion of devices have ruptured.

He believes women should plan for having implants removed.

This is a view shared by another member of the review panel, Tim Goodacre, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras).

He said: 'Even with a very low rupture rate, we would want to see most implants removed on a staged basis.

'If you believe a device is faulty, I think this would be true in your car or any other object that you buy, you would want to have that replaced on a staged basis.'

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon Elaine Sassoon, a council member of Bapras, said no plastic surgeon in Norfolk's NHS hospitals had used the defective implants, as they strived to avoid what they saw as 'cheap implants'.

She said: 'We try to put the best implants we can in our patients, but some clinics' aims are purely financial.

'The difference between the cheap ones and the more expensive ones will be about �500 for a cosmetic clinic buying them in bulk.'

Miss Sassoon said she had seen patients with the PIP implants who reported feeling exhausted all the time.

She said: 'The ones I have seen have never got very far with the clinics, but I think now things are going to change.

'Some of them felt unwell for ages, others had leakage and pain, or a hardening of the scar capsule around the implant.

'The ones I have seen have had to go back to clinics and had to pay more money, but now with this scandal I think something is going to happen.

'If it was me I would like to have them removed. It doesn't have to be as soon as possible, but I would start thinking about having them removed.

'Get the information now; get a copy of your operation notes.'

The latest news comes amid warnings from other experts that anti-ageing injections will be the next scandal in the cosmetic surgery industry.

There are concerns that the practice of administering injectable fillers, including Botox, is unregulated.

Leading surgeons have been calling for years for tighter regulation of the industry, saying anyone can 'set up shop' to administer injectables.

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