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Around 47,000 women in the UK were fitted with PIP breast implants before they were withdrawn from use in 2010. Although there is no evidence that PIP implants are an immediate health risk, if they rupture it can lead to a number of health issues.

If you have a PIP implant and suspect it has ruptured, it is important to take action as quickly as possible to minimise any potential negative effects. Unfortunately, many women with PIP implants are not aware that the implants are a potential health risk and may not immediately recognise the symptoms if their implant ruptures.

In this article, we look at why PIP implants can be a health risk, what symptoms to look out for if your implant ruptures and what actions you need to take to protect yourself from a ruptured implant.

The dangers of PIP breast implants

Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) were a French company who manufactured breast implants used worldwide over a number of years. They used an industrial grade silicone gel in their implants that was not approved for medical uses. As a result, PIP implants are up to six times more likely to rupture than other types of breast implant.

If a breast implant ruptures and the silicone gel inside begins to leak out, it can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms that can be painful and unsightly.

Symptoms of a ruptured PIP implant

Common signs of a ruptured breast implant include:

  • Swelling and/or lumps around the breast
  • The breast changing shape
  • Redness of the skin
  • Pain, tenderness or a burning sensation
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What to do if you suspect your breast implant has ruptured

If your think your breast implant has ruptured, a doctor needs to confirm this – usually with an MRI or other type of imaging scan. If it is found that your implant has ruptured, it will need to be surgically removed. It will be up to you whether to only have the implant that has ruptured removed, or to have both taken out as a replacement.

You will also likely either need to replace the implant with a new one, or have a “breast lift” to remove the excess skin left over from the stretching effect of your previous implant.

Paying for breast implant removal and replacement

You may be able to get PIP implants removed for free on the NHS, but they will not normally replace them for you. You will therefore normally need to go to a private cosmetic surgery clinic to have replacement implants fitted or for a breast lift to deal with excess skin after implant removal.

Some clinics that fitted PIP implants will remove and replace them free of charge, while others will charge for this. You will need to get in touch with the clinic that fitted your implants to find out their policy.

Getting compensation for a ruptured PIP implant

Under EU law, the supplier of a product is usually held responsible if the product is later found to be faulty, rather the person who sold it. For PIP implants, this means the manufacturer, Poly Implant Prostheses, would normally be legally responsible for ruptured PIP implants, rather than the plastic surgeons that fitted them.

Unfortunately, Poly Implant Prostheses is no longer in business, having gone into liquidation in 2010 as a result of the scandal over their use of unapproved silicone in their implants. As a result, there is now no way to get compensation directly from the manufacturer for PIP implants. However, many women have successfully claimed compensation from the clinics that fitted their implants and from the banks and credit card companies used to pay for the surgery.

Whether you will be able to claim PIP implant compensation from a clinic, your bank or credit card company will depend on your circumstances. It is therefore advisable to speak to a specialist clinical negligence solicitor to find out more about your potential options for pursuing a claim.