Anxious women given PIP breast implants on the NHS will be able to have them removed for free, with private firms expected to offer the same deal, the Government said yesterday.
Experts have said there is no evidence to recommend routine removal of the implants, but added they could not entirely rule out that some are toxic.
Around 40,000 women in the UK have been fitted with the implants, manufactured by a now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), which were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
The Government said those patients who had their implants on the NHS as part of breast reconstruction surgery – believed to be around 5 per cent of the total – will be able to have them removed and replaced if they are worried.
But it expects private firms to provide the same offer to anxious women who paid for their implants privately and also wish to have them taken out.
A UK review was ordered by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley because of conflicting data about the risk of the implants rupturing and leaking non-medical grade silicone into the body.
All women who have received an implant on the health service will be contacted and offered a consultation with their GP or their original surgical team.
They could be offered scans to see if there is any evidence that their implant has ruptured.
With the support of their doctor, women who still have concerns will be able to have them removed and replaced free of charge on the NHS.
Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, welcomed the news, saying women should be reassured that removal is a precautionary measure.
He said: “This is a sensible decision, taken after intense deliberation and we support that.”