What you should know
Breast operations 'must not be sold like double glazing' In the wake of the PIP breast implant scandal, the cosmetic industry is under close scrutiny. Here, three experts spell out the hard facts behind the hard sell. Catherine O’Brien reports
C osmetic surgery is one of our few expanding industries — treatment rates doubled during the Celtic Tiger. In 2006, the market in Ireland was worth about €25 million; by the start of 2009 it was valued at almost € 50 million, and most of the patients were women.
But the PIP scandal — in which 1,500 Irish women were given substandard breast implants made of industrial rather than medical-grade silicone gel by the French manufacturer Poly Implant Prothèse — has made many question the quest for perfection. We have warnings about being on the brink of a body-image crisis, with studies showing that two thirds of adults don’t like the way they look. It is even being suggested that patients who want cosmetic surgery should first have to undergo psychological screening.
The controversial PIP implants were carried out at three private clinics here — the Clane Hospital in Kildare, Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and Harley Medical Group in Dublin. The Department of Health has since announced plans for a mandatory licensing system for healthcare facilities, including cosmetic surgery clinics. As of April, the Irish Medicines Board had received complaints about ruptures of PIP implants from 210 women and the State has committed to cover the cost of their removal where it is deemed clinically necessary.
It has never been easier for us to change the way we look. But cosmetic procedures can go wrong; we have no accurate statistics for blunders — as many treatments are performed in private clinics and the industry is largely self-regulated. So if you are considering cosmetic surgery, it is vital to check out the facts before you commit.
Tighter restrictions on cosmetic surgery urged