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The PIP scandal refers to the 47,000 British women whose breast implants unknowingly contained industrial-grade silicon, which is not designed for medical use.

When the PIP scandal broke in in 2010, it marked one of the most noteworthy cases of medical negligence in recent history. It is estimated that over 400,000 women from across the world were impacted and that the implants, made by French firm Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), were twice as likely to rupture than other brands.

In addition to negligence on behalf of the manufacturer, questions were raised about the extent to which the German cosmetic-surgery certification agency, TÜV Rheinland, was liable after awarding safety certificates for the faulty implants.

With the impact of the scandal still being felt and many women still awaiting compensation, we take a look at the scandal in more detail and how recent developments impact victims in the UK and abroad.

What is the PIP Scandal?

Poly Implant Prothèse was once the third biggest supplier of breast implants in the world, having produced over 2,000 breast implants to be used by cosmetic surgeons.

Following reports of abnormally high rupture rates, it was found that the manufacturer had been filling implants with sub-standard silicone gel that was not cleared for human use. The company went into liquidation in 2010 and its founder, Jean-Claude Mas was convicted of aggravated fraud and sentenced to four years in prison.

Victims have reported a range of mental and physical health issues, including extreme pain, inflammation, headaches, infections, anxiety and low energy. Many women suffered for years before realising that their health issues were a direct result of their faulty implants.

While some cosmetic surgery clinics notified their clients about the danger following the scandal breaking, many others never received any additional communication from their provider.

With implants likely to rupture or leak, resulting in their body exposed to industrial-grade silicone, women have been forced to take decisions about their medical care into their own hands. Many have decided to pay out of pocket to have their implants removed, and many more are not in a position to pay thousands for a second breast augmentation procedure - leaving them in an incredibly difficult situation.

Why has it taken so long to resolve?

Due to the sheer size of the scandal and the number of women impacted, it has proven a difficult and slow process to secure compensation for the suffering caused.

With PIP filing for bankruptcy in 2010, the company has not had to pay damages to any of the thousands of victims and women have found there is limited recourse available.

A number of lawsuits have been brought against TUV Rheinland for certifying the implants as safe for use, with some success.

The most recent case has secured compensation for thousands of women, including 540 Britons. Although the final compensation amount is yet to be determined, campaigners have seen this as a huge victory and hope it will lead to more cases being brought against the German agency.

Despite the recent victory, it remains that many victims have been unable to secure any compensation at all.

Who is entitled to compensation?

The French court's recent ruling suggests that all victims who have suffered as a result of unknowingly receiving the faulty implants should now be entitled to compensation.

While many women now know they are living with PIP implants, there are thousands of others who are still uncertain about the implants that are given and if they are entitled to make a claim.

Anyone who had breast implants before 2010 should contact the clinic or hospital they used to ask for details on what type of implants were used. This can be more challenging for individuals who went abroad for surgery or whose care provider has since gone out of business.

What help is available?

A point of contention throughout the scandal has been the lack of help and support available to the women who have been directly impacted by the scandal.

As a result, over the last decade a number of support groups have been created to help victims come to terms with what has happened and raise awareness surrounding the scandal. Some of the most prominent include, Official PIP Implant Campaign (OPIC) and PIP Action Group.

For women who are worried about the impact their implants are having on their health, some private clinics have agreed to remove and replace PIP breast implants free of charge, if medically necessary. The NHS has also said they will remove implants but are unable to peace with the implants if they were fitted privately. You can find more on the support available here. Additionally, you can also learn more about making a breast implant compensation claim here.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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