News article published on: 25th March 2019
Ten years ago I acted for a lady who had chosen to have cosmetic surgery to reduce the bags around her eyes and the surgery had gone wrong. Too much skin was taken away from one of her eyelids so that she could not close that eye properly and in her view she looked worse after the surgery than she did before it.
This surgery ruined my client’s life and she became severely depressed. She was unable to face the outside world, was unable to work and she was unable to enjoy any sort of relationship with her husband.
She instructed me to sue the surgeon for clinical negligence and I was successful in recovering £285,000 for her which she used to buy a house and move out of the area. The last time I talked to her, things were a lot better as she had been able to make a fresh start.
Since then I have acted for many other victims of negligent cosmetic surgery and treatment. Quite often in these cases the psychological damage caused by the negligent treatment is just as important as the physical damage.
A couple of years ago I acted for a lady who had sustained burns along her legs as a result of overzealous laser hair removal treatment. Fortunately the burns faded over time and I recovered £3,000 for her.
We have also recovered £12,000 for a lady whose scalp had been burned by carelessly applied highlights and £5,000 for a lady whose skin had been badly affected by a wrongly applied green peel treatment.
I am currently bringing a case against a clinic for another client who suffered facial burns from wrongly applied laser skin treatment and the clinic have admitted liability. This lady is likely to recover about £10,000.
So a claim can be brought if the cosmetic surgery or treatment is not carried out with reasonable skill and care and as a result the person undergoing the treatment suffers injury.
My advice, if you are considering undergoing any sort of cosmetic surgery or treatment is to take the following steps:
Arrange an initial consultation to discuss the procedure first.
During the course of this consultation make it clear what you want to achieve and make sure that you are told whether or not this is achievable. Make a written note of what is discussed at this meeting, ideally during the course of the meeting. Make sure that you are advised of all of the possible risks of the procedure and write these down too. The law is that you should be told of all risks involved even if there is only a 1% chance of the risk happening. Make sure that you are told the price of everything including any follow up appointments.
Ask whether what you want to achieve can be done so by a less invasive procedure for example dermal fillers rather than a facelift.
Make sure that details of your medical history are taken during this initial consultation. If they are not, go elsewhere.
Make sure that you are given a “Patients Guide” which, amongst other things, must set out what to do if things go wrong. You are entitled to be given one of these under the Private and Voluntary Health Care Regulations 2001.
Ask for what was discussed at the initial consultation to be given to you in writing afterwards and check this against your own notes.
Ask for the name and qualifications of the person who is going to be carrying out the surgery/treatment. If you are going to undergo anaesthesia ask for the name and qualifications of the anaesthetist. Make sure that both doctors are listed in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council which is easily accessible via the GMC website. This register will tell you whether the doctor has a licence to practice and what his specialism is. Cosmetic surgery is not a specialism in its own right but plastic surgery and anaesthesia are.
Make sure that the surgeon has appropriate professional indemnity insurance. All surgeons registered with the GMC are obliged to maintain this and you are entitled to ask for details of this insurance cover.
Discuss the question of the surgery with your GP. Although there is no legal requirement for you to do so, there may be something in your medical history which makes surgery unwise.
Do not necessarily choose the cheapest clinic. Price is only one of the things to consider when deciding where to go.
Allow at least 2 weeks between the initial consultation and the surgery so that you can give everything you have been told proper thought. Any surgeon that puts pressure on you to have the surgery within 2 weeks of the initial consultation is breaching the best practice guidelines of the industry and is probably not to be trusted.
Remember that you can change your mind at any time prior to the surgery even if the surgery has been booked.
On the day of the surgery, the surgeon and anaesthetist should both come and see you before the operation and discuss with you what you want to achieve, what to expect and go over the risks again. After the surgery, the surgeon could come and see you and give you full details as to how the operation went, what to expect in terms of your recovery and what you can and shouldn’t do over the next few days.
At the end of the day, think very carefully before undergoing any type of cosmetic surgery or treatment. Whilst you can sue the surgeon if things go wrong, money can rarely go all the way to repair the damage!
If you have undergone cosmetic surgery which you are not happy with as a result of the surgeons lack of skill and care you may be eligible to receive a compensation payment for the injuries and distress suffered by you. On contacting us you can rest assured that any conversation we have will be completely confidential.
If you would like to speak with Wendy you can do so by:
Wendy is a member of the Law Society’s specialist Personal Injury Panel and is accredited as a senior litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.