The PIP Breast Implants Scandal & What It Means for You


The PIP Breast Implants Scandal & What It Means for You

In the wake of the PIP breast implant scandal that has consumed patients and clinics over the past few years, safe, effective and experienced should be some of the keywords when considering which clinic to use for your breast augmentation implants. The best patient is an informed patient.

The PIP Scandal in Brief

Poly Implant Prothèse, the company primarily responsible for the scandal, manufactured breast implants. In what seemed to be a bid to cut costs, medical-grade silicone was substituted in favour of industrial-grade silicone, which is around 10% of the cost. It was surgeons in France who reported abnormally high rates of ruptures with the implants that ultimately led to legal proceedings and bankruptcy for the company, PIP, and a wave of international controversy. Countries responded by banning the import of PIP implants and removing them from sale and offering differing advice, with some urging removal; others just urged caution.

The UK was hit hard by the revelations, with around 40,000 women thought to have had PIP implants. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer at the time tried to allay fears, pointing out the lack of substantiated evidence whilst acknowledging the deception involved. This was not enough for many women affected, who sought out their respective clinics to have them removed. Many honoured ethical guidelines and removed them but some refused to do so for free, which exposed the industry’s regulatory standards.  Unfortunately, scandals can happen to the well-intentioned and many reputable clinics were caught up with the downfall of PIP - the differences emerged in the wake of the revelations. Since then many clinics have pushed for regulation to prove themselves to patients and ensure rogue clinics can no longer continue to practice.

Choose Your Clinic Wisely

• A good clinic will adhere to standards set out by regulatory bodies, both mandatory and voluntary, in order to demonstrate the right levels of care necessary to perform cosmetic surgical procedures. If in doubt, ask; don’t assume.
• A good clinic will not unduly pressure you into having a procedure. BAAPS, who have set up a voluntary registry that helps ensure ethical and medical standards beyond the limited scope of current law, enforce a ‘cooling off’ period of at least two weeks between consultation and procedure. So beware of offers and time limits.
• Saline implants are losing popularity. Although safer if they burst, many are choosing silicone implants for the closer feel to breast tissue and generally longer use. Find out what a clinic offers and why.
• A good clinic will not be cheap. It is private health care and good care is not cheap, otherwise prices would be lower across the industry. The PIP scandal brought to light the dangerously high costs of low-cost clinics across the world and in the UK.
• Always check thoroughly if you are offered a financial options plan to help you afford a procedure. Never sign something you don’t fully understand and beware of clinics that seem too good to be true.
• A good clinic will set realistic expectations and explain the risks and potential effects of a procedure. Beware of grand promises and vague answers. You are paying and you deserve detailed explanations.
• A good clinic will have a social media profile of some sort, which helps to ensure a degree of transparency and trust between the clinic and the patient.
• A good clinic won’t treat everyone that walks through the door. If you’re not suitable for a procedure, it is normally for a good reason.
•  If you are looking for a procedure, ensure you establish a list of questions that need to be effectively answered before anything is performed.


Article by
London Plastic Surgeon