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Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2017

What happens when PIP implants rupture?

PIP breast implants were withdrawn from use in the UK in 2010 due to their increased risk of rupturing. Around 47,000 women in the UK were fitted with PIP implants, meaning there are likely to be a significant number of people facing a potentially serious problem if one or both of their implants rupture.

Silicone gel-filled breast implants
Image/FDA

Although there is no evidence that PIP implants pose any serious immediate health risks, if the implants do rupture it can have a number of unpleasant symptoms. In this article we will look at why PIP implants are more likely to rupture, the symptoms people are likely to experience if this happens and what you should do if you suspect your breast implant has ruptured.

Why are PIP implants more likely to rupture?

PIP implants were made a French company called Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), which is where the implants get their name. PIP used an industrial grade silicone gel not approved for medical use in their implants, which is why PIP implants are up to six times more likely to rupture than other types of breast implant.

Symptoms of a ruptured PIP implant

Common signs of a ruptured breast implant include:

  • Lumps or swelling around the breast
  • The breast changing shape
  • Redness
  • Pain, tenderness or a burning sensation
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your GP. There are no known serious health risks from a ruptured PIP implant, but it can be uncomfortable and upsetting, so it is worth getting the issue addressed as quickly as possible.

What to do if your breast implant ruptures

If your doctor suspects that your breast implant has ruptured, they will normally need to confirm this with an MRI or other type of imaging scan. If your doctor confirms a rupture, they will likely recommend that you have the implant surgically removed. If only one of your implants has ruptured it will be up to you whether to have both removed, or just the one that has burst.

Because breast implants stretch the skin covering them, when you have an implant removed, you will normally either need it replaced with a new one, or to have a “breast lift” to remove the excess skin. This helps your breasts to maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

While you may be able to get PIP implants removed for free on the NHS, they will not replace them for you. If you want replacement implants, or a breast lift, you will normally need to get this done privately. Some cosmetic surgery clinics will remove and replace PIP implants that they fitted free of charge, while others will charge for this. You will need to consult the clinic you used to find out their rules for dealing with PIP implants.

Can you get compensation for a ruptured PIP implant?

Under EU law, it is the supplier who is generally help responsible for a faulty product, rather than any intermediary who sold it. In this case, that means the manufacturer, Poly Implant Prostheses, has legal responsibility for ruptured PIP implants, rather than the plastic surgeon that fitted the implants.

Unfortunately, Poly Implant Prostheses went into liquidation in 2010 following the revelation that they were using the unapproved silicone in their implants. This means there is now no way of getting compensation directly from the supplier. However, there are other avenues people can potentially pursue to cover the cost of having PIP implants removed and replaced.

Many women have had success claiming compensation for PIP breast implants from the clinics that carried out the implantation and from the banks and credit card companies used to pay for the implants. Whether you will be able to claim compensation in this way will depend on your particular circumstances, so it is worth discussing this with a specialist medical negligence solicitor who will be able to advise you on the strength of your claim.

Author: Carol Trehearn

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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