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What had happened so far?

There is a lot of confusing information about PiP breast implants.

Basically, the problem is that breast implants manufactured by the Poly Implant Prothèse (PiP) Company have been found to contain non medical grade silicone. In fact, rather than the approved type of gel, the implants reportedly contained an industrial silicone more commonly used in mattresses.

The news has raised serious safety concerns.

The unauthorised implants were in use in the UK between 2001 and 2010, but this came to a halt when the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency released a medical device alert, warning that they should not be used as they are between two and six times more likely to rupture than the safer alternative. In fact, French health data, reveals a rupture rate of in excess of 25%, while an NHS expert study put the rupture rate at 30% after a period of ten years.

The first concerns regarding the implants can be traced to the announcement by a French regulator that all French women who have had a PiP breast implant should have it removed as a preventative measure. Initially, this was because of health concerns surrounding high rates of ruptured implants and cancer risk.

The latest information from the NHS stresses that no cancer link has been found, and that the real issue is the high number of ruptured breast implants. However, an official NHS review of PiP implants, carried out by Sir Bruce Keogh, recognises that women who underwent breast augmentation surgery "had an expectation that their implants contained medical grade silicone". Instead, the women who had PiP implants received something called ‘siloxane’, a chemical more commonly found in deodorants.

A rupture is a split in the outer casing of the implant, allowing the silicone to leak into the body. Rupture of PiP implants can be distressing and is likely to cause a variety of symptoms, including localised reactions which might result in pain, tenderness and swollen lymph glands. However, there is no evidence of any increased cancer risk.

The government has said that those who originally received their PiP implants on the NHS (around 5% of PiP implant recipients in the UK were performed on the NHS; mostly for reconstructive purposes) can have them removed free of charge, while some private clinics have also offered to remove and replace the dangerous implants.

The position is changing all the time. Check out:

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