The continued concerns about the PIP silicone gel breast implants continues to grow in Europe and South America. Part of the implant’s popularity was the lower price compared to breast implants by other, more established, manufacturers. For younger women, who may be more price sensitive, the cost of a procedure, which includes the cost of breast implants, may play a big role in their decision to  have a breast augmentation. This of course raises the question – is the cost of a procedure related to the quality received?

In this cases, it seems that the lower priced PIP implants were of poor quality due to the non-medical grade silicone gel used, and perhaps the lower quality standards present during the manufacturing process. Fortunately for American women, the F.D.A. identified problems with the PIP silicone gel breast implants and followed the recommendations of its own advisory panel, which included Board Certified plastic surgeons, to not approve these devices in the United States. For a brief time, PIP saline-filled breast implants were used in the U.S. but these implants do not appear to have the problems with non-medical grade silicone being used. 

Substandard medical products and procedures being offered at a lower price are not new. Sales of non-approved counterfeit Botox, diluted Botox or fillers, injections of non-medical fillers, use of unapproved laser treatment and performing surgery without proper safety measures all have all been reported over the last few years – sometimes with devastating consequences. In most cases, the patients who suffered the consequences were enticed by low cost aesthetic surgery or cosmetic procedures. While smart shopping and cost comparisons are acceptable in healthcare and plastic surgery, a prospective patient needs to consider that more often than not, cutting corners and seeking bargains is likely to result in more problems (and higher costs) down the road. 

“If a product or procedure price seems to good to be true, or is much lower than that offered by Board Certified plastic surgeons, you should ask yourself if you are really going to get what you are paying for and if you are willing to live with the results if things don’t go as planned.”

Karol A. Gutowski, M.D.

For more information on potential problems with “bargain surgery” see the post on Cosmetic Surgery Tourism.

  • Image Source: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net (Unless otherwise noted, all images are models and not actual patients.)
  • Copyright: Karol A. Gutowski, M.D., Chicago, IL, 2012