Yesterday afternoon we received a call from a woman who was very concerned and upset about her PIP breast implants. The caller is one of the UK's 40,000 women who have received PIP implants. In recent weeks the implants, made by Poly Implants Prosthese in France using industrial grade silicone gel filler, ignited health fears after reports that they are more prone to rupture than other products. 300,000 women have received the implants worldwide.
We explained that we did not perform cosmetic surgery or provide medical information. We then advised her to speak to her doctor or the clinic that had performed her breast augmentation.
To our surprise, she said that she had already spoken to her doctor and that he had also advised her to speak to the private clinic concerned.
A little confused, we asked her why she had called my Body Beautiful. She replied that she wanted to know what we thought she should do.
Sadly, we were unable to do anything other than utilise our counselling skills and listen, before suggesting that she follow her doctor’s advice.
The Government has promised that NHS PIP implant patients, who request it, can have their implants removed and replaced free of charge. Some private healthcare providers including Nuffield Health, BMI and Spire, have given their former patients the same guarantee.
On the opposite side of the fence stand several large private clinics, including Harley Medical Group, Transform and the Hospital Group who have stated that former patients will have to pay for their PIP removal and replacement. Mel Braham, the Harley Medical Group chairman, has publically stated that the company did not have the resources, surgeons or operating facilities required. The NHS has offered to remove, but not replace the implants of women who fall into this category.
"I do not think it is fair to the taxpayer for the NHS to foot the bill for patients who had their operation privately." Heath Secretary Andrew Lansley told the Commons last week.
Andrew Lansley is currently investigating the possibility of pursuing private providers, who are refusing to cover removal and replacement costs, through the courts.
At the very least, the PIP controversy has highlighted the need for a review of the current ethics, regulation and safety standards of the cosmetic surgery industry.