The French state is offering to remove the breast implants of 30,000 French women who got implants from Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP).
The company has folded after revelations that it used industrial-grade instead of medical-grade silicone in its implants.
Around 40,000 UK women also have had PIP implants. The UK government has said that it will remove implants for those women who want it only if they had the implants as part of treatment on the NHS. These women will be cancer patients who have had reconstructive surgery.
This only accounts for 5 per cent of those affected. For the 95 per cent of women who got their PIP implants from private companies, overwhelmingly for cosmetic reasons, the government is offering little. They say there is no clear proof that there is a clinical need for removal, and that women should discuss the issue with their private provider if they want removal.
The government will not force private surgeons to remove implants, but has simply urged the private companies to “step up to the plate”, and perform their “moral duty” to provide aftercare to patients. In many cases, the government knows, this simply will not happen, in a few cases because the surgeons have gone out of business, in most because the companies will not accept liability.
Much of the cosmetic surgery industry does not act in a moral fashion. This burgeoning industry is unregulated. The growing number of prosecutions by customers who have been badly advised or had procedures bungled demonstrates that most of the providers are simply in it for the money and not because they care about their clients/patients.
Immediately, the government should offer to women who have had private procedures the same options they are giving NHS patients: consultation and removal of implants should the women want it. The government should hasten their investigations into the safety or otherwise of PIP implants. It should move immediately to regulate the cosmetic surgery industry.
On the broader issues raised by this scandal, socialists should fight against all the conditions that lead women and men to decide to undergo medically useless, and potentially dangerous, cosmetic surgery procedures, including but not limited to breast enlargement.