Cosmetic surgery review launched after PiP breast implant scare

A plastic surgeon holds defective silicone gel breast implants Photo: Reuters

A major review into cosmetic surgery is being launched in light of the PIP scandal.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who will lead the inquiry, said he fears many people do not realise such procedures can have lifelong implications.

The review was requested by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley after concerns about cosmetic surgery were raised following the public outcry over faulty PIP breast implants and could lead to tighter regulation of the industry.

PiP breast implants do not cause a long-term health threat, experts have said Credit: Reuters

The PIP breast implant scandal has shone a spotlight on the regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry.

Concern grew late last year over the implants, which were made by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

The implants were linked to the death of a French woman from a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), sparking worries among 47,000 British women who were thought to have had them.

British experts have however said ruptured PIP breast implants should not cause any long-term health problems.

Thousands of British women have been affected by PIP implants Credit: Reuters

An expert panel, including PIP campaigner Catherine Kydd, former medical director of Bupa Andrew Vallance-Owen and editor of Marie Claire magazine Trish Halpin, will gather evidence before making recommendations to the Government next March.

Members of the public are also being asked to share their experiences of cosmetic surgery and views on issues including the safety of products used in such procedures, care during and after treatment, and how much advice is given to those considering surgery.

The review comes as a ComRes survey of 1,762 people showed that only half take the qualifications of a practitioner into consideration - 54% for surgery and 50% for non-surgical procedures.

Two thirds of those questioned, 67% for surgery and 66% for non-surgical procedures, said cost is a factor for them when deciding whether to have surgery.

Many questions have been raised, particularly around the regulation of clinics, whether all practitioners are adequately qualified, how well people are advised when money is changing hands, aggressive marketing techniques, and what protection is available when things go wrong.

– NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh

We would very much like the review to look at the issue of advertising of cosmetic surgery that is widely used to prey on the vulnerability of patients who seek cosmetic surgery for psychological reasons.

– Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)

There has to be a fundamental sea change in the marketing of cosmetic surgery and non-surgical aesthetics in our country.

– James Frame, professor of aesthetic plastic surgery at Anglia Ruskin University

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who will lead the inquiry into cosmetic surgery, will recommend tighter rules in several key areas;

  • Making it routine practice for surgeons to register all devices - from breast implants to hip replacements - on a detailed register that could be used to detect trends and trace individual patients.
  • Requiring clinics to join a scheme, similar to that run by the travel industry, that would offer patients protection if a company went bust.
  • Tightening the rules on anti-ageing dermal fillers, which require only basic safety checks and can legally be injected by anyone.
  • Introducing minimum training requirements for surgeons carrying out cosmetic procedures.