Thousands of breast implant patients are being urged to ensure their details are recorded on a national registry designed to safeguard their health.
Almost 60,000 breast implant patients have been added to NHS Digital’s Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry since it was set up in 2016, allowing them to be traced if their implants are affected by safety concerns.
People in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland who are having breast implant surgery or have had surgery in the past are encouraged to ensure their details are registered to help protect their health.
NHS Digital launched the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry in October 2016, to record the details of patients who have breast implant operations, including type of implant, allowing them to be traced if they are affected by safety concerns.
Details of implant procedures, including those carried out by NHS organisations and independent healthcare providers, are held in the registry.
Between its launch in October 2016 and December 2020, 56,690 patients and 59,660 operations were added to the registry.
In 2020, 10,500 patients who had breast implant surgery (10,310 in England and 190 in Scotland) were added to the NHS Digital Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry. Northern Ireland joined the registry this year.
Patients who have undergone breast implant surgery in the past but are not on the registry are encouraged to speak to their surgeons and request that their details are added to safeguard their health.
Lee Martin, NHS breast surgeon and Chair of the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry Steering Group, said: ‘It is pleasing to see that the number of submissions to the registry has increased steadily over the past five years and now includes information from almost 60,000 patients.
‘We want all patients – past and present – to be aware that the registry exists and ensure they are included by speaking to their surgeons. As a surgeon, I know first-hand the importance of patient information being included on the registry – it’s crucial in providing good patient care and provides patients with assurance that they will be followed up with if there are issues with their breast implants in the future.’
With a family history of breast cancer, Sonia Younghusband, 53, from Washington, near Newcastle upon Tyne, was told she had a 50% chance of developing the disease herself.
After her sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2014, Sonia chose to undergo a double mastectomy, with implant reconstruction, at her local hospital in July 2015, aged 47.
Sonia, an HR manager at a school, was referred to a Breast Reconstruction Support Group at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and now supports other women undergoing reconstructive surgery by sharing her experience.
‘To have a mastectomy without reconstruction would have delayed my recovery – one week after surgery I was able to look in the mirror and not see a dramatic change to my body, it really helped me mentally. For me, my breasts are an integral part of my identity as a woman.’
Sonia is also advocating for women who have had implant surgery to ensure they are on the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry.
‘Being on the registry could save your life. It’s a huge comfort to know if anything goes wrong you will be contacted and looked after – it’s a safety net.’
Alison Lattimer, patient representative on the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry Steering Group, added: ‘As someone who has undergone reconstruction surgery myself, following breast cancer, I understand just how crucial the registry is in protecting the future health of those undergoing breast implant surgery.
‘I would urge anyone considering having reconstruction surgery or those who have done so in the past to check with their surgeons and make sure they are on the registry.’
As well as containing the details of patients and their implants, the registry will also allow the identification of possible trends and complications relating to specific implants.
Patient data is kept confidential and is held on a secure online platform – no information is shared with third parties.
If you are a patient and would like your information added to the registry, speak with your surgeon or hospital/clinic. If you are unsure if your information is on the registry, you can submit a subject access request.
More information and access for registered users is available on the NHS Digital website.