PIP - Reuters - December 28, 2011.
Boxes containing silicone gel breast in La Seyne-sur-Mer near Toulon, December 28, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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In a surprise move, the Health Ministry and the Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery decided on Sunday not to recommend the wholesale replacement in Israel of all silicone breast implants manufactured by PIP. As long as no leakage is diagnosed, the implants represent no danger, the bodies announced.

The decision comes in stark contrast to news reports last week which suggested the ministry would recommend the replacement of all silicone breast implants manufactured by PIP. The implants are said to contain industrial materials that may be toxic.

In spite of the decision not to require the widespread replacement of PIP implants, the Health Ministry has decided it will be possible to replace the implants among women whose doctors suspect leakage. These operations will be performed in public hospitals and free of charge, minus the cost of the new implants.

The Health Ministry is expected to publish a special report for doctors on Monday describing the circumstances under which PIP implants may be replaced.

The decision not to recommend the wholesale replacement of all PIP silicone breast implants, reached during a joint consultation of the Health Ministry and the Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, followed an updated investigation into the recommendations of health ministries in Western Europe.

The British Association of Plastic Surgeons announced at the end of the week that it would not recommend the replacement of all such implants in the country. There are an estimated 42,000 women in the country with such implants.

The chair of the Israeli Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery explained that, "according to the data that have accumulated, there is no order to replace the implants and they represent no danger, so long as no leakage has been proven."

France is the only country to date to announce the wholesale replacement of the PIP implants. France is also the country where the potentially problematic implants were manufactured, and cases of leakage from the implants have been diagnosed there.

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic surgery also recommended the replacement of the implants last week, after it was discovered that the implants contained industrial materials that are liable to be toxic.

The Israeli Society for Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery has thus far received reports of seven Israeli women in whom leakage from the implants has been diagnosed in recent months, out of about 850 women who underwent breast enhancement with the PIP silicone implants. It is estimated that additional cases have been discovered in recent years.

About two weeks ago the Health Ministry opened a hotline to reply to more than 1,000 questions from women trying to find out which type of implants they received.

According to instructions already published by the ministry, women who have PIP implants are asked, in accordance with the new instructions, to be examined privately by a plastic surgeon, or in a Kupat Holim clinic or public hospital. These women must undergo a physical examination and sonogram in order to determine whether there is leakage from the implants. If a leakage is discovered, the medical instructions are to remove the leaking implant surgically.