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Cosmetic surgery tourists in breast implant risk

Controversial implants were sold under a different brand name in Europe

London – 24 February, 2011 – In the wake of the tragic death of a woman who travelled overseas for buttock enhancement, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( today also issues a warning to women who have gone abroad for breast augmentation – following reports of implant rupture from patients who never suspected they were given controversial devices now taken off the market. PIP implants, it has emerged, were being sold under a different name in some of the most popular cosmetic surgery tourism destinations around Europe, regularly visited by British patients seeking low-cost procedures.

It has been estimated that around 50,000 women in the UK have PIP breast implants, but the discovery that the fraudulent devices were also sold in countries such as Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic under re-branded name ‘M-Implant’ by Dutch firm Rofil Medical means that the number of women who should be on the alert is much higher. Studies last year found that the company originally making the low-cost implants, which has since gone into administration, not only dispensed with a protective shell but used an untested gel, said to have been intended for use in mattresses.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Fazel Fatah;

"The most recent study by the French medical device regulatory authority (AFSSAPS) demonstrated that the rupture rate of PIP implants is much higher than other implants. It has also been established that the gel was not of the level of quality required for breast implants. At the BAAPS we reiterate our advice and extend this to women who may have gone abroad for their surgery: contact your clinic to find out what type of implant you have. If, as has occurred in some cases, they no longer can be contacted, visit your GP for advice. It may be necessary to have a breast scan, and if there is a rupture both implants should be removed. Yet again this demonstrates the difficulties patients who travel abroad for cheaper cosmetic surgery may have when something goes wrong with the treatment. "

Although AFSSAPS found no acute toxicity (cytotoxicity) effect on tissue, tests for genotoxicity (effect of the gel on DNA of cells) did not give a conclusive result and further extensive testing will need to take place.

PIP implants were known to have been popular with the larger domestic chains and commercial clinics because of their low cost. It has been estimated that 60,000 people travel out of the UK for medical tourism every year, and roughly a third of those do so specifically for cosmetic surgery.


The BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter:   and Facebook:

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