Roughly two million cosmetic surgeries are performed in the US each year. In addition, nine million minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and fillers, are undergone. While “cosmetic surgery” is often used interchangeably with “plastic surgery,” the latter further encompasses procedures to heal and repair burn damage. On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is solely an elective procedure to improve an individual’s appearance.

Yet, although patients request and oftentimes pay out-of-pocket for cosmetic surgery, it’s like any other medical procedure. Mistakes can be made, complications may arise and the patient may experience an injury or another debilitating condition as a result. Thus, the doctors performing cosmetic surgeries and minimally invasive procedures may be committing medical malpractice. If you believe you were a victim, you have the option to pursue such a claim.

Although these claims are similar to other medical malpractice cases, there are a few points to be aware of when it comes to cosmetic surgery.

Common Procedures & Errors

Medical malpractice lawyer signing paperworkCosmetic surgery may be performed on the face or body to improve appearance or correct a perceived insufficiency. The most common ones include:

  • Liposuction
  • Breast augmentation
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Tummy tucks, formally known as an abdominoplasty
  • Nose jobs, or rhinoplasty
  • Face and neck lifts
  • Dermabrasion
  • Lip augmentation

After any one of these procedures, infections, scarring, nerve damage or complications from anesthesia can arise. Additionally, prior to the procedure being performed, patients are informed of side effects like swelling and bruising, which might be alarming at first, but disappear with time.

Aside from these after-effects, two other errors potentially stemming from negligence are:

  • Procedural Errors: Commonly known as “botched” surgery.
  • Inexperienced Surgeons: As a result of the large payouts from surgery and the lack of insurance paperwork involved, the cosmetic field has a far higher percentage of unskilled, non board-certified doctors attempting to perform these procedures with minimal training.

In response to any of the issues listed above, patients are often left in need of corrective procedures or therapy, or could experience life-long disfigurement that cannot be fixed.

Pursuing a Claim

When a patient does not get the desired results from a cosmetic procedure, negligence should not be assumed. Instead, like any other medical malpractice claim, the following points must be proven:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed.
  • The doctor or other professional breached the standard of care. In this instance, a lawyer needs to show the doctor’s approach differed from the established standard of care by providing testimony from other cosmetic surgeons with as much specialized knowledge.
  • The breach directly resulted in harm. With cosmetic procedures, patients should first be informed of all risks beforehand and, in most cases, sign a consent form. If any known complications arise, the surgeon should address them right away. However, even if the patient experiences one of the known risks, negligence is not automatically assumed. During a trial, the plaintiff and lawyer need to prove that the patient wasn’t informed of this risk ahead of time and that this complication directly resulted in the patient’s injury.

Complications When the Case Goes to Trial

One significant concern arising in medical malpractice cases involving cosmetic surgery is jury bias. In these types of claims, juries have been known to dismiss the patient and give the surgeon the benefit of the doubt because they believe:

  • The patient was acting vain and brought the complications on him or herself.
  • The patient is at fault for picking an unqualified surgeon for an elective procedure.
  • The procedure was unnecessary.
  • Because the patient opted to have the procedure, they have a large amount of money already and shouldn’t need to file a lawsuit.
  • The patient was already aware of the risks and complications associated with the procedure.

After a cosmetic procedure, did you experience nerve damage, scarring or another injury without being warned of such complications in advance? Trantolo & Trantolo believes that doctors need to be held accountable for any negligence that occurred before, during or after cosmetic surgery. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, bring it to the attention of our lawyers today.