The Australian Therapeutic Goods Advisory Bureau (TGA) has been closely monitoring local and international developments regarding the safety of PIP breast implants. Although the TGA initially stated that there was no evidence for an increased rupture rate of PIP breast implants, many women with PIP implants have chosen to have their breasts radiologically examined. To date (10th February 2012) there have been 134 confirmed reports of rupture of PIP breast implants.
This underscores the fact that silicone breast implants (of all types) can undergo “silent rupture”. In other words the breast implants may have ruptured without the patient being aware of the rupture. It is only by a radiological examination (preferably an MRI) that a rupture can be detected.
Some studies have indicated that up to 40% of silicone breast implants have undergone silent rupture.
With saline breast implants, any rupture is obvious as the implant will deflate releasing the saline fluid which is harmless to the body. This is a significant advantage that saline breast implants have over all types of silicone breast implants.
Although the TGA has retained its advice to women with PIP implants that the implant should not be removed unless there is evidence of rupture, the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons has a different view and has recommended to the Chief Medical Officer that all PIP silicone breast implants be removed. No patient wants the continual anxiety that their breast implants may rupture at any time and that this rupture may not be detected until the silicone migrates and causes symptoms such as a swelling in the armpit.
The Medical Benefits Division of Medicare has recently been consulted by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and they have confirmed that Medicare item numbers are available to cover the removal, or the removal and replacement of PIP breast implants. Even if the implant is not known to be leaking, provided the woman suffers significant anxiety then there are legitimate grounds to have the implants removed.
Although Avenue Plastic Surgery has never inserted PIP breast implants, we have been involved in the removal and replacement of a number of leaking PIP implants.