The expert group responsible for investigating the dangers of the PIP silicone breast implants has concluded that they will not cause any long term damage to human health.
Exhaustive world-wide testing of the PIP gel material has revealed that the implants are neither toxic nor carcinogenic.
However, the reviewers, lead by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh – the Medical Director of the NHS – confirmed that they do have almost double the rupture risk of other implants.
The final report on the PIP scandal has been published today.
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It was in December 2011 that the PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) implants first hit the headlines; after it emerged they were manufactured using silicone gel that had not been authorised for medical use.
Since then, thousands of women all over the world have had them removed amid fears that they could rupture and significantly damage their health.
In response to the events, the expert group has studied information on 240,000 implants of different makes used throughout England which have been given to 130,000 women, along with detailed findings from 5,600 removal operations.
They found that PIP implants have a higher concentration of certain compounds called siloxanes – chemically similar to silicone but of a lower molecular weight and found in many consumer products, including hair and skin care products, antiperspirants and deodorants – but this does not present a health risk.
But although the contents are not harmful and the gel has not been shown to contain any toxic substances, the inferior mechanical strength of the implants led the group to consider this a substandard product.
However, if the implants do rupture, they have been found to cause local reactions around the implant area in a small proportion of women.
This reaction can result in symptoms such as tenderness or swollen lymph glands, but there is no evidence that this causes any more significant general health concern.
Commenting on the publication of the final report, Sir Bruce Keogh said: “This has been an incredibly worrying time for women.
“We have been determined to look thoroughly at all available evidence so we are able to give them the best clinical advice possible.
“Repeated tests on different batches of PIP implants have been carried out in the UK, France and Australia according to international standards.
“Those tests have shown that the implants are not toxic and therefore we do not believe they are a threat to the long-term health of women who have PIP implants.”
He continued: “We have however found that these implants are substandard, when compared to other implants and that they are more likely to rupture.
“We would therefore advise that women who have symptoms of a rupture – for example tenderness, soreness or lumpiness – should speak to their surgeon or GP.
“I would ask all GPs to refer any patient who has concerns about their PIP implants to a specialist.
“I sincerely hope this helps to reassure women that their long term health is not at risk.”