COSMETIC SURGERY SOLICITORS - MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE COMPENSATION
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
Cosmetic surgery is a type of surgery that has a low surgery complication rate. This is especially true if the individual doing the surgery is board certified in plastic surgery. While every surgery has its risks, the truth is that most who are having cosmetic surgery are healthy as a baseline and they have no underlying disease that can contribute to having surgical complications. Even so, you should talk to your primary care physician or plastic surgeon about your own personal risks to having plastic surgery. If you would like advice at no cost just use the helpline or complete the contact form and a cosmetic surgery solicitor will telephone you with no charge and no obligation.
With any type of surgery, there are risks with anesthesia or sedation. Some of the risks occurring with general anesthesia include an abnormal heart rhythm, blockage of the airway, blood clots to the lungs, heart attack, brain damage and death. Malignant hypertension can occur with inhaled steroids and a stroke is always possible. You can get nerve damage and temporary paralysis associated with either general or local anesthesia. You are at a greater risk of cosmetic surgery complications if you have pre-existing lung disease, heart disease or obesity. To lower your risk, you should talk to the doctor about your medical history and the medications you are taking. If you would like advice at no cost just use the helpline or complete the contact form and a cosmetic surgery solicitor will telephone you with no charge and no obligation.
You can lose too much blood with a plastic surgery procedure which can lead to severe anemia. You can also aspirate or vomit food and liquid from your stomach into your lungs and this can block your airway, causing infections, a chronic cough or an obstruction of the lung airways. A DVT or deep vein thrombosis can occur as a result of being immobile for a long period of time, and this can result in a pulmonary embolus, which can be deadly. Sometimes the doctor uses compression garments to prevent blood clots from forming.
There can be a lowering of blood pressure in surgery, which can lead to a heart attack. This is a complication of anesthesia, especially general anesthesia. Infection occurs in less than one percent of people who have plastic surgery. If you are infected with a difficult organism, antibiotics can be slow to treat the disease and the individual can have a bad outcome, such as scarring or death. Sutures can come loose on the inside or outside of the body, leading to a hernia or to internal or external bleeding complications. It may require a second surgery and could cause a disfiguring injury.
In surgery that is purely cosmetic, there is a risk of skin necrosis or skin death that can be due to overstretching the skin or to infection or hematoma formation beneath the skin. The surgeon can unknowingly create an asymmetry of the breasts or body areas so that additional surgery is necessary to fix the surgical complications. Healing can be slow, depending on your age and on medications you may be taking. There can be numbness or tingling to the affected area if nerves become disrupted in the act of plastic surgery. Plastic surgery can yield irregularities of the skin, dimples, divots and puckers within the skin due to differences in body healing or to surgical error. You can get a hematoma or seroma built up beneath the skin at the site of the plastic surgery. These may need to be gotten rid of surgically or just drained using a syringe inserted into the seroma or hematoma to draw out the fluid.
You should know that plastic surgery is generally very safe and effective. There are few complications in cosmetic surgery. Complications occur in less than half of one percent and about one in 57,000 cases of plastic surgery patients actually die. The risk is about the same in ambulatory hospital centers when compared to cosmetic surgery freestanding centers. Doctors who treat patients for cosmetic surgery look for morbid obesity as a risk factor for complications. They also look for problems with the heart or lungs as risk factors and look for a history of recent trauma, cancer history, or recurrent severe infection. If these things and the physical exam check out, you have a good chance of having a low risk cosmetic surgery.
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
The intention behind these procedures is to rejuvenate, beautify and refresh appearance however things do not always turn out that way and accompanying the burgeoning numbers of surgical procedures is a rapid increase in the volume of cosmetic surgery claims for botched workmanship or inadequate aftercare. It is estimated that over 25,000 people undergo cosmetic procedures every year and it is an unfortunate fact that Australia has the highest rate of medical error in the world according to the World Health Organisation. Our cosmetic surgery solicitors are experienced in claiming compensation for clients who have suffered a variety of operations which have gone wrong including :-
- breast enlargement
- breast reduction
- breast uplift
- nose re-shaping
- eyelid surgery
- lip implants
- chin/cheek reshaping
- ear pinning or correction
- gastric band or weight related surgery
- silicone implants (breast, buttock, calf, cheek, chin, pectorals etc)
Regulation & Control
Private cosmetic surgery has always been inadequately regulated in regards to specialist qualifications and it is only in recent years that there has been available specialist training through the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery. Many clinics employ doctors who may have been specialists in other disciplines but who do not have specific training in either plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. Disciplines which have in the past been associated with these procedures include general surgeons, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, ear nose and throat surgeons, ophthalmologists and other doctors who were dealing with this type of surgery however plastic surgery was only at the most, a necessary sideline inferior to the main discipline. In short there is no necessity for doctors to possess specialist training in order to carry out cosmetic surgery procedures and it is not surprising therefore that negligent procedures resulting in solicitors compensation claims are not uncommon. Examples of medical treatment that may be considered to be negligent include failure to:-
- diagnose a medical condition
- provide appropriate treatment
- refer to a specialist or consultant
- diagnose in a reasonable time frame
- advise of risks associated with treatment
- perform surgery with reasonable care and skill
- provide adequate post-operative care
The most common solicitors cosmetic surgery claims for compensation as a result of medical negligence include:
- failure by the doctor to obtain proper informed consent including failure to give a full explanation of potential risks and whether or not there exist alternative procedures to obtain the same goal
- failure to warn of the possibility of unexpected obtrusive scarring following a face lift or negligent procedures making such scarring more likely
- unsatisfactory and unsightly results following dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser surgery particularly to face
- injury to the accessory nerve following a face lift causing partial paralysis and loss of function
- poor outcomes from rhinoplasty resulting in a nose job that fails to live up to expectations or is plain unsightly
- breast uplift resulting in excessive or unexpected scarring, non symmetrical appearance or displaced nipples
- breast reduction resulting in unevenness, lack of symmetry or unexpected, extensive, unsightly scarring
- liposuction resulting in severe scarring, unevenness, perforation to the bowel or other organs or damage to other parts of the body
It is important for patients to be realistic at all times during the cosmetic surgery process and to understand that these procedures cannot make you perfect, but a good plastic surgeon will be completely honest with you about the potential outcome. Not all procedures carried out by qualified surgeons that have a less than satisfactory outcome are the result of clinical negligence. A bad outcome does not automatically infer clinical negligence nor does it mean that the victim is entitled to compensation. Erroneous treatment will only be determined to be negligent by a court of law if the medical practitioner has failed to excessive reasonable skill and care. This does not require the doctor to have acted perfectly nor does it require a perfect outcome. The law does vary across Australia however the general principles remain the same with variation on the determination of the required standard of conduct. To ascertain whether or not your particular claim falls within the definition of medical negligence it will be necessary to take advice from a cosmetic surgery claim solicitor who practices in the state where the alleged negligent act occurred.
Compensation payable in any personal injury claim is intended to put the claimant back into the position would have been in had the negligent act not occurred. Easier said than done on the basis that financial recompense can never adequately compensate for physical injury however so far as pain and suffering is concerned the amount awarded is based on previously decided cases couple with guidelines and tempered by the judges previous experience. Amounts awarded are divided into two categories intended to represent those items that can be calculated with a degree of mathematical accuracy (special damages) and those items that must be assessed (general damages) :-
- loss of wages
- medical treatment
- legal charges
- cost of care
- general expenses
- future losses
- pain & suffering
- loss of lifestyle
- loss of congenial employment
- loss of opportunity
There are time limits for talking legal Action for medical negligence in Australia. In general terms a claim must be settled or legal proceedings must have been issued in a court of law within the limitation period. Failure may mean that the opportunity to claim compensation is lost forever. There are some exceptions to this general rule. The court also has a wide discretion relating to time limits. If you are in any doubt you should take qualified advice from a specialist solicitors without delay.
The doctrine of 'informed consent' is one of the mainstays of allegations of medical negligence especially in regards to solicitors cosmetic surgery claims. A surgeon is required by law to advise the patient of all of the possible outcomes and the risks of carrying out the relevant surgery and in the most serious cases failure to do so can amount to a criminal assault. A victim is entitled to base a cosmetic surgery compensation claim on the healthcare providers failure to provide full and adequate information, not only about the procedures involved but also on the risk of failure and possible unsatisfactory results. Surgery to the face and breast augmentation surgery result in the highest number of complaints relating to informed consent.
The most common failure in this regard relates to a failure to advise on the possibility of unacceptable scarring which is always a relatively unpredictable risk of all surgery and does not in itself indicate medical negligence but may be a function of that particular patients makeup and chemistry. One of the most common issues relates to the formation of 'keloid' scarring which is due to an overgrowth of collagen at the site of the surgery and may be an unpredictable side effect of surgery producing firm, rubbery, lesions or shiny fibrous nodules varying in colour from flesh colour to dark brown. A keloid scar is benign, non contagious and may be accompanied by itching or pain.
One of the greatest and most regrettable failures resulting in cosmetic surgery claims relates to a failure to ensure adequate aftercare. Whilst the surgical technique may be perfect and the outcome has the potential for an entirely satisfactory appearance the job is often put at risk due to a failure of adequate aftercare the most serious of which relates to the control of infection which may of itself cause unacceptable scarring or may result in further surgery to remove damaged tissue ensuring that the final outcome is a botched job with a less favourable aesthetic outlook than may have been achieved had the aftercare technique been satisfactory. Many surgeons seem to think that once the patient is out of the operating theatre that they are thereafter the responsibility of less qualified staff whose job it is to deal with removal of stitches, infection control and wound dressing. A failure by a surgeon to keep a close eye on a patients progress and who fails to spot potential danger signs relating to aftercare is negligent and that surgeon is usually responsible for the failings of less qualified under his authority.
Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors
If you are unhappy with the outcome of cosmetic surgery the first step is to discuss it with the surgeon who carried out the work to see if he has any proposals to rectify the problem. It may be possible to obtain a refund or provide further corrective surgery. You may wish to consider getting a second opinion from another cosmetic surgeon who can advise on rectification and may also indicate whether or not, in his opinion, the work was carried out negligently. The surgeon who gives the second opinion may be able to offer corrective surgery or may be able to make a recommendation to another specialist. If you find that you are unable to resolve the matter by agreement you should consider talking advice from a solicitor on making a cosmetic surgery claim for compensation. If you decide to take this course of action you may be able to claim damages for pain and suffering, all reasonably incurred expenses, loss of wages, general expenditure and other losses, funding for the corrective surgery and a refund of fees charged by the negligent doctor. Our cosmetic surgery claim solicitors are able to offer free advice without any further obligation. Just complete the contact form and a member of our legal team will discuss your case on the telephone. You will be given advice in liability and an estimate of the amount of compensation that you are likely to be awarded. Our advice is given freely with no charge and without any further obligation.
HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here