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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 February, 2005, 00:11 GMT
Infection risk of breast implants
Jordan's famous model figure has helped popularise breast implants
Women undergoing breast implant surgery have a 2.5% risk of suffering a post-op infection, a worldwide study of 10,000 people suggests.

And for cancer patients having breast reconstruction the risk is up to 10 times higher, the University of Geneva Hospitals in Switzerland said.

The UK Government said last week the rules governing cosmetic surgery would be tightened.

But surgeons said the infection rate in Britain was likely to be lower than 1%.

Most of the infections were acute infections which developed immediately after the surgery, while the rest happened months or, in a few cases, years after surgery.

It is also worth reminding patients that it is surgery and does carry a risk
Nicholas Parkhouse, of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons

Most infections require the implant to be removed.

Risk associated with breast reconstruction after cancer treatment is much higher as radiotherapy and chemotherapy mean wounds do not heal as well.

The report, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, suggested the infections were caused by contaminated implants, the patient's skin or poor sterilisation and cleanliness in the surgical theatre.

Breast enlargement is the most popular kind of cosmetic surgery in the UK with 3,700 women undergoing it last year, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

Lead researcher Brigitte Pittet said: "Patients should be aware that, similar to other invasive procedures involving the implantation of foreign material, breast implants may lead to potential complications such as infection.

"In good hands, however, infection rates remain infrequent."

Nicholas Parkhouse, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the McIndoe Surgical Centre in East Grinstead and a spokesman for the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, said the infection rate in the UK would be well under 1%.

"If it was as high as 2.5% we would be out of business.

"Proper medical protection needs to be done in the most carefully controlled environment.

"Patients should ask surgeons about their infection rate.

"It is also worth reminding patients that it is surgery and does carry a risk."

And BAAPS president Adam Searle added: "Infections are extremely serious. They can cause soreness and redness and lead to the implant being removed.

"Once people start compromising the surgical facility then the infection rate rises."

Cosmetic ops 'require research'
28 Jan 05 |  Health

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