23rd May 2019

MEPs support safer breast implants

Euro-MPs are pressing for a ban on breast implants for under-18 year olds as part of an EU-wide campaign for tougher health and safety regulations on silicone gel products.

"We must have a legal age limit. What saddens me is that there is a lot of pressure put on young people to have an ideal body," said UK Labour MEP, Bill Miller.

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  • MEPs want better information for women considering surgical implants. (Photo: EUobserver)

In a vote today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs also supported a ban on the use of before-and-after pictures to promote the surgery and for compulsory follow-up operations.

The report, which was drafted by fellow UK Labour MEP, Catherine Stihler, is not legally binding but aims to put pressure on EU governments to improve patient care.

"We still have to keep pushing member states to take more action," she said.

MEPs are spearheading a drive for better information to be given on the dangers of implants before and after cosmetic surgery.

"Studies suggest that after 7-10 years, 50% of implants will rupture and after 20 years that figure rises to 90%. By being denied all the facts women are not presently able to make informed decisions about their surgery," said Ms Stihler.

White coat cowboys

The campaign also aims to crack down on so-called "cosmetic cowboys" by pressing for an international register of accredited plastic surgeons and national registers for every operation carried out.

This would allow for better post-operation care and keep women informed in the case of product faults.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery welcomed the move. "We object very strongly to people in white coats who are pretending to be counsellors but are actually sales persons," said a spokesman.

He said it was difficult to combat the problem because there were no figures available about the number of operations taking place.

Ruined lives

Yesterday's decision marks another victory for Scotswoman, Margo Cameron, who first turned to Bill Miller in 1995 with claims that silicone lip implants had leaked, poisoning her body and ruining her health.

Her complaint snowballed into a petition of over 3000 European women who had gone through similar traumatic experiences following silicone implant operations.

This prompted the European Parliament to commission a study into the dangers of silicone gel products, leading to a landmark decision by the European Commission in 2001 to reclassify breast implants for tougher safety checks.

The Commission will recommend new measures for better patient information over the next few weeks.

But Mr Miller said that despite the positive results, he wanted to push the campaign even further.

"The message from the women in Glasgow and London who started this campaign is clear - more must be done to stop other women repeating their painful experience of implant surgery," he said.

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