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Have Men Been Tied into the PIP Implant Disaster?

Hey there Guys,

Had an interesting conversation today with a young man who has survived testicular cancer. The good news is that a couple of years down the track he’s doing great. With his operation to remove his testicle he was left with the decision on a testicular implant to help “balance things out”. Dave opted to have the implant however with the recent disaster with PIP breast implants he was keen to know if his new testicle may be at the same risk as those who had the breast implants.

PIP, the manufacturers at the center of the scandal didn’t just make breast implants. To quote the British press:

France’s PIP company made male chest, buttock, and testicle implants filled with the same contaminated silicone gel.

The male prosthetic implants were “exported overseas”, but it was not known how many men around the world had been supplied with the cosmetic enhancements.

The New Zealand Herald notes that majority of the implants were sent to Latin America.

For many testicular cancer survivors replacing their lost testicle can reduce self consciousness.  Not everyone opts for the implant, however for those that do safety of the replacement is vital.

So what was the problem with the PIP implants?

As reported from the British NHS website:

The French implants caused global concern after it was revealed they contained industrial silicone rather than medical-grade fillers and that they may be more prone to rupture and leakage. Initially reports also linked the implants to a rare form of cancer known as ALCL. This cancer link has been now been firmly discounted by medical experts here and in Europe.

The site continues to say:

During December 2011 UK media had originally focused on a possible link between PIP implants and a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This arose after a French woman with PIP implants developed the cancer and died. However, after reviewing the evidence, the expert group conducting the review agreed that there was no link with cancer.

More recently, attention has focused on the rupture rate of the implants, and whether the unapproved gel filling of PIP implants could have a toxic effect.

The review has specifically looked at these issues, and found:

  • From the “patchy” data available, the review panel was not able to tell whether the rupture rate for PIPs is higher than for other types of implant.
  • From the implants that have been tested there appears to be no risk of dangerous toxic effects in the event of a rupture.
  • The review group said it could not be certain that the manufacturer did not change the content of the implants, so could not completely rule out the possibility that some might contain toxic substances.

Bottom line is that if you have a prosthesis it may be worth contacting your surgeon to discuss what brand was placed inside your body.

If you have a prosthesis and notice changes such as:

  • lumpiness  or hardening of the implant
  • lumpiness or swelling around the implant
  • deflation or change in shape of the implant
  • tenderness, pain, or redness around the implant.

You should see your doctor immediately for review and management. The good news is that for the vast majority these implants are safe. If you are concerned there are options for changing to a saline rather than a silicone filled prosthesis.

The most important part is that you feel confident and happy. As I mentioned, if you have any worries be sure to talk to the doctors that were involved with your care.

Got some questions? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contacting me via email.

If you would like to learn more about testicular cancer you can click here for an article I wrote: Help I have Pain In My Testicles

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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