For many years there has been media scrutiny on the risks
associated with breast implants. Recently, that attention focused
on breast implants provided by a French company called Poly Implant
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (the Australian Regulatory
Authority) recently published information regarding PIP breast
implants. Notification was given that silicone gel of an
industrial, rather than medical, grade (and which had not been
approved) had been used in some breast implants manufactured by
Unused PIP breast implants were recalled from use in Australia
in early 2010. One question this raises is that if the recall was
overlooked and some of those implants were later surgically
implanted, then who is responsible for any later problems?
Certainly, this current issue highlights the need for any surgeon
who has used PIP breast implants to follow up with those
Be aware of the risks
Irrespective of who manufactures breast implants, any breast
implant surgery carries risks. Not only are there risks associated
with the surgery itself, there are also risks of, for example,
rupture, leakage, pain, infection and hardening of the tissue. All
breast implants carry the risk of rupture and leakage; there are
also risks associated with the removal and/or exchange of implants.
Before undergoing any breast implant procedures, you should discuss
the risks with your doctor.
A doctor has a duty to warn a patient about risks of a procedure
or treatment, to enable the patient to make an informed decision.
Importantly, as a patient you should ask your doctor to discuss the
risks associated with any medical procedure or treatment.
It is also important to be aware that most private health
insurance companies do not provide any rebates for breast implant
procedures. A patient concerned by breast implant failures should
speak to their treating doctor about who is to fund the costs of
Seek advice and know your rights
Understandably, patients who have undergone breast implant
surgery may be experiencing high levels of anxiety about the
long-term health consequences of breast implants.
If you are concerned you should seek medical advice about your
options. Your doctor may, for example, refer you for medical
imaging to look for any signs that the implant has ruptured or
leaked. This may give peace of mind to you as a patient.
You have rights as both a consumer, and as a patient. If you
have had problems following a medical procedure you should speak to
a lawyer so that you know your rights.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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