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Cosmetic Surgery - Not Quite What You Hoped For?

29 Jun 2010

Helen Morland, Partner in Hay & Kilner’s specialist clinical negligence team, looks at the booming cosmetic surgery market and what you can do to minimise the risks.

Cosmetic Surgery has become more and more acceptable with television shows like Ten Years Younger and How to Look Good Naked raising awareness of the range of cosmetic treatments that are available. Figures published last year showed that the top procedures for both men and women were:

  • Breast augmentation
  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery)
  • Liposuction
  • Face / neck lift
  • Breast reduction
  • Rhinoplasty (nose job)
  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
  • Otoplasty (ear correction)

The UK spends more on cosmetic surgery than any other European country. UK consumers paid nearly £500 million for nips and tucks in 2006, with a predicted increase to £1.5 billion by 2011.

The fastest growing area of cosmetic surgery has been minimally invasive procedures, such as botox injections and laser therapy. However, surgeons say the popularity of these procedures is leading to an increase in more radical operations. The effects of less invasive treatments can sometimes be limiting and people are therefore turning to surgery.

Harley Street cosmetic surgeon, Rajiv Grover states, “Before there was nothing between a face cream and a facelift. People can now dip their toes in the water with a number of non invasive procedures, so the decision to have a facelift does not seem so drastic”.

Going abroad for surgery

Growing in popularity are plastic surgery holiday packages, which allow consumers to combine an exotic holiday with surgery. The guidance given, if you are considering one of these package holidays, is that you should do so with caution and do not base choices on discounts, price or marketing tactics. The top concerns raised by surgeons relate to after care, language barriers and lower standards of quality in some foreign countries.

Many of these package holidays are advertised in women’s magazines and patients usually have no information about the competence of the surgeon who will be performing their procedure. Best practice can be compromised as patients are only meeting their surgeon for the first time immediately before the surgery. In addition patients often return to the UK without adequate medical records. If things go wrong it is unlikely there will be any possibility of seeking corrective surgery and holding a surgeon accountable long distance is extremely difficult. Whilst it can be seen as a cheaper option, the additional costs of paying for revisional surgery can wipe out the original saving.

S.U.R.E. you want cosmetic surgery?

Deciding to have any form of cosmetic surgery involves a great deal of deliberation. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has published S.U.R.E, a checklist for those considering surgery, offering guidance such as:

S: Check your Surgeon’s credentials and qualifications

U: Make sure you Understand what is involved

R: Be clear about what to expect throughout the Recovery period

E: Make sure your Expectations are realistic

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What if your cosmetic surgery goes wrong?

Cosmetic procedures are not to be undertaken lightly. In accordance with the NHS website they carry a small but present risk of complications. If you are not satisfied with the results or believe the procedure was not carried out properly, you should first take the matter up with the surgeon via the hospital or clinic. If the complaint is not dealt with to your satisfaction options available include contacting the Healthcare Commission or contacting a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. Since 1990, more than £7 million has been paid out in compensation to victims of negligent surgery. Injury as a result of incompetent cosmetic surgery can be equally as distressing and damaging as injury as a result of a conventional medical procedure. No doubt news of ‘botched surgery’ in the press will alert potential claimants to the risks of surgery and their right to compensation if they have been seriously harmed.

Hay & Kilner has a team of solicitors dedicated to helping people bring successful clinical negligence claims. Chambers Guide to the legal profession positions Hay & Kilner in the top rank of leading clinical negligence solicitors in the North East.

For more information please contactHelen Morland. Call: 0191 232 8345 or Email: helen.morland@hay-kilner.co.uk

Please note: This article is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. Please contact us to discuss how the contents of the article may affect you.