Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My (First) Twenty-Five Years of Cosmetic Surgery, Part 4

Part 4 - Some Things Never Change

PIP breast implants - bad news.
It was recently reported that French breast implant company Poly Implant Proth√®se (PIP) manufactured and sold an estimated 300,000 implants containing potentially toxic industrial-grade silicone. Somehow they passed EU safety standards and were exported to 65 countries over 12 years. This news has caused widespread panic among women who have the implants, and to those who don't know what kind of implants they have. (ALWAYS ask for the package inserts for any medical devices and keep them safe for your records.)

I have since been inundated with enquiries from women who have PIP implants and don't know what to do, asking whether or not I have them and what I would do. (I don't have PIP implants, but I would want them out if I did.) Many are not willing to wait and see what healthcare providers ultimately decide and choose to pay to have them replaced privately, an expensive option not possible for everyone. 

A little history -

Over the past 25 years I've witnessed no less than three other types of breast implants being taken off the market: Polyurethane-coated (the coating broke down and produced carcinogenic substances), Double-lumen (silicone inside saline implant that ruptured at an unacceptable rate) and Trilucent (soybean oil filled, which were determined could break down and release toxic materials.)

I've also seen many expensive treatments hit the media in a a blaze of glory only to be quietly withdrawn after proving problematic or dangerous including: Isologen (harvesting your own cells for re-implantation as a filler) and Flabjab injections (soya derivative claimed to melt fat).  On the cosmetics front, every year expensive new "miracle" beauty potions and creams are launched that do not live up to their claims. In the UK, L'Oreal were asked to withdraw their TV ads for a wrinkle cream containing "Boswelox," an ingredient unheard of outside the French company, after they were unable to provide sufficient evidence of its efficacy.

What's the secret for never falling victim to any of the above? For me there have been several factors: Although I've made radical changes to my appearance, my overall approach has been exceptionally conservative. I don't believe everything I read and remain highly skeptical about new unproven treatments. Media hype and PR campaigns on behalf of manufacturers, clinics or surgeons don't cloud my judgement or influence my decisions. I remain focused on the end result, both short and long term. (But that's also my approach to most things, so I guess I'm just lucky to be wired that way.) In addition, for over two decades clients have been contacting me for all sorts of reasons, including to help them put bad surgery right, so I've gained a rare in-depth understanding of how and why things can go wrong, as well as the names of who does the best and worst work. However, and perhaps most importantly, I choose like-minded medical practitioners who share not only my aesthetics, but my extreme caution, which is why I do not have PIP implants myself nor do any of my private clients, as I have never recommended any surgeons or clinics who used them.

The consensus among my medical contacts and surgeon friends is that PIP implants were being sold so cheaply that suspicions were aroused and potential problems had been reported. T
herefore they were never tempted to change from their tried and tested brands. Yet, according to what PIP implant recipients are revealing, it seems that the savings were not passed on to them, and in many cases they actually paid way above the going rate.

My thoughts are with women the world over who have PIP implants. I hope they will all be able to get them removed and replaced with the top quality ones they should have had in the first place. PIP implants were even given to cancer patients during mastectomy reconstruction by the NHS.

Those needing help and advice about PIP implants should consult their GP or surgeon. There is also a good deal of comprehensive information online and Facebook support groups have been set up.

If history is anything to go by, this will not be the last time the public will be let down by those entrusted with   their health and well-being, an unfortunate state of affairs by no means limited to plastic surgery. With the recession biting ever deeper around the globe, we are all attracted to bargains, and big business is no different. I urge everyone to be vigilant and take extra care in all aspects of their health and safety.


  1. what has been the problem with isologen? so are there problems with plasma gel too? both sounded so promising :(

    1. If you Google Isologen you can find loads of information about the problems. Personally, I would never have that procedure because if they remove your own "skin cells" and send them off to be grown elsewhere, how do you know for certain: 1) What kind of sterile environment they will be stored in? 2) That the cells that come back are actually your own? 3) That they will stop multiplying once re-injected?

      As for ANY new procedure that has not stood the test of time or is based on questionable science, I would steer clear and make use of established alternatives until (and if) the new procedure proves safe and effective in the long run.

  2. Nice picture and a great article filled with sound advice Cindy, especially about the recession causing people to bargain, sometimes against their own health. Being an informed patient is crucial...

  3. It's amazing how you have explained plastic surgery to the patients, it'll be lot easier for them to understand how easy these things are and I think they will agree to be good looking is lot more easier than previous days. I’m recommending this post on my facebook page for sure, thanks a lot.