Cosmetic Surgery Today Interview with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Mr Richard Matthews

Cosmetic Surgery Today talks to Leamington-based plastic surgeon Mr Richard Matthews about recent developments in the cosmetic surgery industry.

In your recent presentation to an international surgery conference you spoke about the PIP crisis. The big cosmetic surgery chains were responsible for the majority of the PIP implants inserted in the UK. How do you feel that they have cared for their patients?

The paper I gave was to an International conference for plastic surgeons in Santiago, Chile, and I presented a survey I had done with my Consultant Plastic Surgery colleagues in the UK into their experience with these implants.

My colleagues and I have been pretty horrified by the rupture rate of these implants. Clearly, the cases that came to us were slightly skewed in terms of the general population, but nevertheless we were seeing quite a lot of patients in whom an undetected rupture had occurred in one or both implants and, furthermore, the appearance of the silicone that we were finding outside of the implant was really horrible. Some patients had been experiencing side effects since having these implants inserted that had been causing them quite a lot of problems.

We know perfectly well that these implants are going to rupture sooner than standard implants and my view is that they should all be removed sooner rather than later.

With regard to the big four cosmetic surgery chains who are responsible for implanting the majority of PIP implants in the UK, one of them first liquidated and then reinvented itself as a different company but with more or less the same name. This has been done mainly to avoid its responsibilities to its patients. The other three Companies have been more responsible by removing the implants and offering reasonable terms for re-augmentation.

The Department of Health has stated there is no cause for concern unless there has been a rupture or suspected rupture. Do you share the government’s views?

I have some quite strong reservations about this and that’s not just confined to myself. Quite a lot of my colleagues – us guys at the sharp end who are taking these implants out of these poor women and seeing the devastation they’ve caused – have found on removal that, first of all, even when it hasn’t been detected pre-operatively on a scan, that some of the implants have ruptured. Some of them are producing grossly altered silicone which looks offensive and even sometimes smells offensive. Women are also reporting symptoms secondary to this.

There is a study going on at the moment, the aim of which is to evaluate this in a rather more extensive and scientific way than we feel the Department of Health, through the MRHA, have achieved so far.