Medical negligence and cosmetic surgery specialist, Oliver Thorne, looks at the legacy of the PIP breast implant scandal

Ever since Timmie Jean Lindsey underwent the first silicone breast implant in 1962, concerns have been expressed about the concept of breast augmentation surgery. It has been reported that Lindsey herself has suffered intermittent pain since the 1980’s.  However, following her pioneering surgery, millions of women have gone under the knife: some in a quest to find the perfect body, others for medical reasons, such as reconstruction following breast cancer surgery.

In 1991 the French company Poly Implant Prosthese was formed and the manufacture of their silicone gel implants commenced. The PIP scandal that followed was sparked when a surgeon advised against using PIP implants in 2007. PIP implants were made using industrial grade silicone and were supplied to an estimated 300,000 women.

British surgeons were ordered to stop using PIP implants in 2010. By the end of that year surgeons were required to identify women who had been given PIP implants. The authorities in France recommended removal of PIP implants, but in Britain we chose not to follow suit, insisting there was no need to take such action.

It was not until 2012 that the NHS started offering removal of PIP implants. However, while the NHS agreed to remove the implants, they would not replace them with another implant. As a result, cosmetic surgeons in the private sector became overrun with women wanting replacement implants. 

When the PIP scandal broke, cosmetic surgery lawyers were inundated by women wanting to take claim against PIP for manufacturing the implant or their surgeons for using them. Since 2012 there appears to be, in my cosmetic surgery practice anyway, an increase in the number of claimants who have undergone removal of their implants and who are unhappy with the result of their subsequent surgery. These cases mostly involve surgical error or incorrect advice given by the cosmetic surgeon on the choice of implant. This could be due to the increased number of women wanting new implants and cosmetic surgeons not having the appropriate time to deal with them - or it could be just a statistical reflection of the number of women undergoing surgery. In all probability, it is a bit of both. What I am confident of is that while these cases may not be directly linked to the PIP debacle, they are a direct legacy of the PIP scandal; one of the biggest medical device scandals the world has ever witnessed.

Oliver Thorne is an experienced clinical negligence lawyer, dealing with cosmetic surgery compensation claims on a No Win – No Fee basis. He can be contacted on freePHONE 0808 139 1592 or by emailing oliver.thorne@sleeblackwell.co.uk

Home / News & Articles / The Legacy of the PIP Breast Implant Scandal