PIP Implants, Implant Rupture, 60 Minutes and Risk to Patients

Following the recent 60 minutes story on Channel 9, I think it is a timely opportunity for me to shed some light on the controversial situation regarding a breast implant manufactured in France by the PIP Company.

It has come to the attention of plastic surgeons internationally that PIP implants appear to have a high rate of rupture and have been manufactured with non-medical grade silicone and in fact have been manufactured with industrial grade silicone.

The facts at the moment are:

 1. There is evidence that these implants tend to have a high rate of rupture.

2. The risk of toxicity from these implants is only theoretical currently.

3. The situation is causing a lot of concern for women who have PIP implants or PIP implants have been withdrawn from the  market. 

This is a difficult situation and plastic surgeons are working together internationally to establish a clearer picture as to what this means for patients.

As a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, I can report that in our opinion these implants should be removed if there is adequate anxiety for the patient, or evidence of rupture.

Genuine anxiety certainly does exist and anxiety can lead to the presentation of medical symptoms secondary to stress. Removal of these implants may well alleviate any symptoms that patients are suffering and certainly will relieve anxiety. 

Investigation of whether these implants have ruptured or not has recently been made simpler with the Department Of Health rebating investigations such as scans, to see if the implants are in fact ruptured or intact. 

For further information about receiving a scan, I suggest you visit the Department of Health website where you can be directed as to how to receive a scan to establish whether the implant is in fact leaking.

If the PIP implant, or any implant  is found to be leaking, ruptured, or bleeding, ,  it certainly should be removed and replaced with a different breast implant though even if the implant is not shown to be leaking on the scan and anxiety levels are high, it is recommended that the implant be removed and replaced. 

There are some important things to remember though regarding breast implants and rupture.

1. PIP implants are a single company that makes the device that is made by many other companies, which have not had   these issues. 

2. At this stage it is reasonable to remove the ruptured implants or implants that are causing anxiety and replace them with an   implant made by a different manufacturer which has not had these problems.

3. Breast augmentation remains a safe and reliable surgical procedure.

I hope this has been helpful and if patients do require further information I would suggest they contact the plastic surgeon who inserted their breast implants.  This will allow you to determine if the implant used was in fact one that has been associated with rupture or a different brand.  If patients are unable to ascertain the type of their implant I would recommend that a scan would be the simplest non-invasive method to establish if the implant was in fact ruptured or leaking. 

 Dr Jeremy Hunt