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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Health warnings call for cosmetic surgery
There is concern that breast implant surgery may damage health
Cosmetic surgery advertisements should carry health warnings, says a report by the Commons Health Select Committee.

The MPs say they are "disturbed" at the claims made about cosmetic surgery in some advertisements featured in magazines and newspapers.

Committee chairman, Labour MP David Hinchliffe said women should "think very carefully" before undergoing cosmetic operations.

He was particularly concerned about the dangers to health associated with breast implants.

Women should think very carefully before undertaking breast augmentation surgery

David Hinchliffe, Commons Health Select Committee
Mr Hinchliffe said: "The committee was disturbed at evidence we received where the end results of such surgery had not matched the claims made for these implants in glossy advertisements.

"We heard from women who were not just physically damaged as a consequence of choosing to have implants but also deeply psychologically scarred by what they had gone through."

Thousands of operations

Around 8,000 women in the UK have breast enlargements each year.

However, many have had their implants removed because of leakages which have left them in pain - and possibly at risk of diseases such as cancer.

Mr Hinchliffe said: "I wish to emphasise that women should think very carefully before undertaking breast augmentation surgery."

Last year the government published an information booklet about breast implants.

However, the select committee report said the booklet should have clearer warnings about the health dangers.

The committee recommends:

  • advertisements for cosmetic surgery should carry health warnings
  • women should have access to independent advice and counselling
  • a new surveillance system for monitoring any possible side effects of breast implants should be set up

Recommendations welcomed

Christine Williamson is head of the pressure group Silicone Support UK.

Lots of girls go to have implants and know nothing about the possible complications

Christine Williamson, Silicon Support UK
She lost breast tissue, chest muscle and lymph nodes when her implant ruptured and had to be removed.

She told BBC News Online that she welcomed the MPs' recommendations, but said an age limit of 18 should also be introduced for breast implant surgery.

She said: "Breast implants should carry a warning saying that they can have serious implications for your health.

"Some of them only last for a few months, before they fold up in your body.

"Lots of girls go to have implants and know nothing about the possible complications. Surgeons do not have to tell them legally."

Ms Williamson said 68% of women who have had breast augmentation cannot breast feed - compared with just 7% of those who have not had the surgery.

The European Commission last week announced that it is to issue guidelines on the use of silicone breast implants amid fears they can leak and cause diseases such as cancer.

Last year, women who had soya-based Trilucent implants were advised by the government to have them removed after scores of patients reported problems with them.

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21 Mar 01 | Health
When silicone implants go wrong
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