Update on PIP implants

There is wide media coverage on a French woman who has recently died of a form of cancer in her breast called a lymphoma. This lymphoma has arisen from the capsule (scar tissue) surrounding her breast implant which happened to be a PIP (Poly Implant Prosthesis).

Facts are :

  • The evidence about the safety of Silicone breast implants have not changed. They are safe. Many other medical devices are made of silicone eg heart valves, artificial joints etc.
  • It is true that a particular brand of silicone breast implants called PIP (Poly Implant Prosthesis), manufactured by the French, were withdrawn from the market a year ago. These implants were found to have non-medical grade silicone and the shell containing the silicone was substandard. Investigations showed a higher rupture rate. 
  • Independant investigations by the the French Regulatory Authority and the UK Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency have shown no tissue toxicity from the PIP silicone.
  • Lymphoma of the breast is a very rare form of cancer. It is a slow growing and non-aggressive cancer with a high cure rate of 94% and a low mortality rate of 1 in 2 million. 
  • There is no proven link between lymphoma and silicone breast implants. A woman with no implants is as likely to develop lymphoma as a woman with implants.
  • The French Authority are looking into the possibility of a link between lymphoma and specifically the PIP implants in view of the recent case presentation. There is certainly no conclusive evidence to date. They will then make a recommendation whether all PIP implants should be removed.

The take home message is :

  • Based on all present evidence, silicone breast implants are safe.
  • However, if your suspect that you may have PIP implants (eg. your surgery was carried out in one of the large chain cosmetic clinics), contact the clinic/surgeon to confirm this.
  • If you do have PIP implants, have an ultra-sound scan.
  • If the scan shows weakening or rupture of the implant shell, have them removed with of without replacement.
  • If the PIP implants are intact, you have the option of simply keeping them under regular checks and the recommendation is an ulta-sound scan every 6 months. Or you can have them removed anyway with or without replacement.
  • Lymphomas of the breast are rare and can happen to any woman with or without implants.
  • Self examination of the breast is essential in all women, with or without implants. Seek advice if you feel any unusual lumps.
  • Await further news of the French Authority investigations and recommendations on the PIP implants as this will certainly influence the UK recommendations.

Read my previous blog on PIP implants a year ago

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