7,000 more women have been given faulty breast implants after officials found industrial silicone was added years earlier than previously thought.
Around 40,000 British women were known to have been given PIP breast implants that were filled with industrial silicone meant for matress filling.
A further 7,000 women are now thought to be affected by the scandal, the Department of Health said, after it was found that the French company accused of frauduently switching to unauthorised silicone, did so years earlier than previously thought.
It was known that implants made by Poly Implant Prosthese from 2001 contained industrial silicone, but now it is thought the sub-standard material was used prior to this.
Women who have PIP implants, or those who do not know the make of their implants, are being urged to visit their GP for advice.
Most cosmetic surgeons are now offering to remove the faulty implants for free but several large companies are refusing to do so.
The NHS will remove any PIP implants that have ruptured for free if the original clinic refuses to do so, health officials said.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said: “I want to reassure those affected by the news today that they will be provided with all the help they need from the NHS.
“We are still working to get private clinics to live up to their responsibilities and look after their patients. Our commitment is to ensure support for all women from the NHS if needed; we will continue to press for the same standard of care or redress from private providers.”
So far, it has cost the NHS at least £500,000 with 4,534 women seeking help from the health service.
Most breast implants need to be replaced after ten to 15 years so a proportion of the faulty implants may already have been removed as part of routine replacement operations.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has advised that there is no need to replace the PIPs unless they have ruptured, however most women are so concerned they are asking for them to be taken out.
This week a credit card company refunded the cost of surgery under the Faulty Goods Act.
The Department of Health has ordered two reviews into the situation, one looking specifically at how the PIP implants were approved and the safety of them. The second will look at the regulation of cosmetic surgery more widely.
In December the French authorities decided to recommend that all women there who had PIPs should have them removed and that the Government would pay for the surgery.
In Britain, expert advice and research has not found any increased risk of cancer and it is not clear whether there is a greater risk of rupture than with other implants
But private clinics have been told they have a 'moral' duty to remove PIP implants where women are concerned.
The owner of the French breast implant maker that sparked the safety scare is facing charges of "involuntary injury."
Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) founder Jean-Claude Mas, 72, had been freed on bail of 100,000 euro ($130,000).
Mr Mas has been under investigation since he revealed in a police interview last year that PIP ordered employees to hide the unauthorised silicone when inspectors visited its factory.
Up to 400,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have been given implants.
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