U.K. doctors urge removal of all PIP breast implants

In the wake of the scandal over substandard breast implants made by the now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), the U.K.'s National Health Service has said it will cover their removal only if specialists determine a major medical need, and private clinics won't. A group of British doctors wants the government to go much further, however, and remove them from the 50,000 women in the country that still have them.

The Daily Mail in the U.K. reports on the push, which stems from a study conducted by the University College London and Royal Free Hospital, looking at PIP implants that doctors removed between January and March in 2012. According to the article, the study determined that each implant had shells that were much weaker than competing brands. As a result, physicians involved in the research and others are now calling for PIP implant removal from every affected U.K. patient.

In case you question why having substandard breast implants might be a bad thing, Nigel Mercer, former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, explains why to the Daily Mail. A flawed outer shell on an implant "will act like a sieve and then the silicone will just leak out," he tells the newspaper. "The batch testing for these implants was useless," he is quoted as saying, "so we don't know which women could be most at risk. It's a lottery. I'd say to women: Have them out."

The scandal erupted in 2011 when it became known that PIP made its implants with substandard silicone and that they ruptured more easily than other implants. The PIP furor, combined with global worry over faulty metal hips, has led to a European-wide push to strengthen medical device regulations.

As far as the PIP implants, the controversy has been made worse in the U.K. because private clinics handled the bulk of the implants and some say they can't afford to remove them, according to the story.

- read the Daily Mail story