The British government is expected today to advise women affected by the PIP breast implant scandal whether they should have them removed.
Around 40,000 women in the UK had breast implants manufactured by the now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses.
More may have travelled abroad for cheap surgery in clinics using the implants. Some British women may also have received Rofil M implants, which were produced by PIP and used in overseas clinics.
An investigation into the risk of the devices, ordered by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, is due to report this afternoon.
Experts including leading plastic surgeons have been examining UK data on rupture rates as well as concerns around the material used in the implants.
In France, the government has told women they should have the implants removed after they were found to contain non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said its figures indicate 1% of implants in the UK have ruptured and insists there is no evidence of a link with cancer, as reported in one French case.
However, experts have cast doubt on the UK rupture figures, with Fazel Fatah, who is sitting on the Government review panel, saying there is no firm data on what proportion of devices have ruptured in Britain.
He said there could be a “significant number” of silent ruptured implants that nobody knows about while other patients may not have gone back to the clinic where they had their surgery if they suffered a rupture.
Mr Fatah, who is president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said the real issue was that the implants were filled with non-medical grade silicone and should be removed.
His views are backed by another member of the review panel, Tim Goodacre, who has called for women who have the implants to have them removed because of the “uncertainty and lack of knowledge”.
He said: “Even with a very low rupture rate, we would want to see most implants removed on a staged basis.”
Mr Lansley has said medical advice at the moment suggests there is no safety concern justifying the routine removal of the implants.
Yesterday, it was reported that PIP also made male chest and testicle implants filled with the same non-medical gel.
These implants are believed to have been exported worldwide but it is unknown how many men had them fitted, according to the French daily newspaper Le Parisien.
The MHRA said yesterday none of these male PIP implants had been distributed in the UK.
It added that concerned women fitted with Rofil M implants should contact their GP or surgeon.
“Our records show that no Rofil M implants were supplied to UK clinics and hospitals.
“If women have been abroad to have Rofil M breast implants, our advice to them, as for women with PIP implants, is that they should not be unduly worried.
“If they have concerns they should speak to their implanting surgeon or GP.”