All women with faulty breast implants should have them removed given the “uncertainty and lack of knowledge” about the extent of the problems, a leading surgeon has warned.
Tim Goodacre, a member of the government-commissioned panel investigating the scandal, said the latest estimate of rupture rates was “very much higher” than he would consider acceptable.
About 40,000 British women are thought to have received the silicone implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the risk of rupture is only 1%, but a cosmetic surgery chain told ministers privately that the figure could be as high as 7% or 8%.
Mr Goodacre, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras), told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: “If you believe a device is faulty, I think this would be true in your car or any other object that you buy, you would want to have that replaced on a staged basis.
“Certainly this is a very much higher rupture rate than we would consider acceptable at all. Good implants put in by reputable people really have an extraordinarily low failure rate so this is quite out of the ordinary.”
The French authorities shut down PIP last year after the company was found to be using cheaper industrial silicone. Paris has since recommended that women have the prosthetics removed because of fears over rupture.
In the UK, the MHRA has said that removal is not necessary.
But health secretary Andrew Lansley launched a review of the risks from faulty breast implants after receiving new evidence from major cosmetic surgery firm Transform.
NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is in charge of the review.
The MHRA will also be conducting an audit of evidence to resolve concerns about the “content and quality of the data that cosmetic surgery providers are sharing with the regulator”.