POSTED 7th December 2016

Breast implants to be barcoded

The barcoding of breast implants has begun as part of a drive by NHS England to further improve patient safety. The aim is to ensure the PIP breast implant scandal of 2010 cannot be repeated. At that time, it was discovered that almost 50,000 women in the UK received implants made from unauthorised silicone by French manufacturer Poly Implant Prothese. However, the lack of traceability meant it was difficult for the authorities to track down the affected women.

Since then, there has been a far-reaching review of the cosmetic surgery industry led by Sir Bruce Keogh, the government’s Chief Medical Officer. The resulting Keogh Report into the ‘regulation of cosmetic interventions’ set out a number of recommendations focusing on three important areas: high quality care with safe products, skilled practitioners and responsible providers; an informed public to ensure people get accurate advice and that the vulnerable are protected; accessible redress and resolution in case things go wrong.
In our view, this report was much needed and long overdue and we are pleased to see that efforts to further improve patient safety are forthcoming.

The latest, the barcoding of implants (as well as replacement hips, medication and surgical tools), is very welcome. It’s a system which will result in an accurate record of the implants used for each breast augmentation procedure, whether carried out at a private clinic such as ours or at an NHS hospital. In practice, it will mean that the barcode of a breast implant is directly associated with each patient.

Announcing the new system, the Department of Health said: “By using barcodes, anything that might develop a fault years later, for example a screw used in a knee operation or breast implant, can be traced. The details, such as when it was used and the surgeon who carried out the procedure, can be found quickly and easily.”
Of course, problems with breast implants are few and far between – the PIP scandal itself was unprecedented and now, nearly seven years on, there has, thank goodness, been nothing like it since. However, it’s important that people can choose to have breast enlargement surgery with confidence, and all measures which improve patient safety are beneficial to all concerned.

If you are considering having breast implants and want to discuss any safety concerns, please do get in touch. At your initial consultation, we will be happy to talk to you in more detail about what the implants are made from and answer any questions you may have. You may like to read the information and FAQs on our breast augmentation pages too.