There have been a number of media releases regarding breast implants manufactured by in France by PIP (Poly Implant Prosthese).

These implants are known as "PIP" or "M" implants. The issue has arisen after the French company halted production in 2010. The company had attempted to reduce costs and produce cheaper implants by using lower grade non-medical silicone. This resulted in deficient quality implants that are prone to failure.

My understanding of the current situation (and this may change as more information becomes available) is that PIP and M implants potentially have weak silicone shells. This could result in implant rupture and silicone leakage. This is the prime reason that implant removal has been recommended.

The media has questioned whether there is a breast cancer association with this brand of breast implants. At best, this is the media reporting a single French patient's breast cancer diagnosis, at worst it is scaremongering and needs a media retraction.

It is worth remembering that the rate of breast cancer in patients without breast implants is the same as patients with breast implants, this has been scientifically proven in medical studies. It is therefore unlikely that women with PIP or M breast implants have a higher risk than normal for breast cancer.

I would however recommend a consultation and mammography or MRI to provide reassurance about the integrity of the implants and also to ensure the breast gland is normal. As part of breast cancer screening in New Zealand women over 45 should have annual mammograms. To my knowledge PIP implants have not been used in New Zealand or the United States. Some have been used in Australia, but the majority were used in Europe, the UK and South America. There has been no detail of usage in Asia, of concern particularly with surgical tourism.

If you have any doubt it is important to contact the Surgeon or Clinic who performed your surgery, they will be able to inform you of your implant details. If you do have PIP or M implants then I would advise you to consult a Plastic Surgeon for advice and discuss whether implant removal is best for you. This decision may require imaging to check the implant integrity using an MRI scan. If the implant is damaged then implant removalĀ and capsulectomy is advisable.

If desired, it is possible for a new replacement implant to be inserted during the surgery so that breast shape and size is maintained. As per my previous blog it is important to enquire about the breast implants your Plastic Surgeon uses, as there are varying prices, quality of implants and warranties. Beware of any cheap breast augmentation deals at home or overseas as part of a travel package, this is usually associated with cost cutting by the clinic and your potential breast implant could be cheap but of second rate quality.

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