We review some of the important legal issues associated with cosmetic surgery and how to go about making a cosmetic surgery negligence claim.

Our attitudes to cosmetic surgery have changed over the last decade and as a consequence procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction and nose reshaping have dramatically risen in popularity.  Sadly, as we see more and more patients opting for cosmetic surgery, there are increasing reports of surgery going wrong. As a result the number of cosmetic surgery negligence claims is on the increase.

Cosmetic surgery negligence claims are different from most other areas of clinical negligence. Invariably there will be no physical detriment to the patient if they do not undergo the procedure.  In most cases the patient will be seeking to improve their appearance rather than addressing a medical problem. Consequently there is a large degree of subjectivity when assessing the outcome of any cosmetic surgery.  A patient who is merely ‘disappointed’ with the results of their cosmetic surgery is unlikely to be successful in claiming compensation. For a cosmetic surgery claim to succeed the claimant must establish that the surgery was so bad it amounts to a breach of the surgeon’s (or the clinic’s) legal duty of care.

Most patients opting for cosmetic surgery will have to pay for the procedure privately and will enter into a legal contract with the cosmetic surgeon or cosmetic surgery clinic for the provision of medical services.  Clinics offering cosmetic surgery will often try to distance themselves from any liability for the potential negligence of the surgeon.  However, the wording of such contracts must be examined carefully as if the clinic has provided an express warranty as to the representations it makes, then a certain standard of care will expected.  If for example the cosmetic surgeon has been advertised as being the `best’ in this field, or the clinic is held out to be a `centre of excellence’ then a patient can expect a higher standard of care and skill.

All cosmetic surgery carried out at a clinic in England and Wales is likely to count as an ‘independent hospital’ within the Care Standards Act 2000, which means that the establishment must be registered.  There are also government imposed national minimum standards which, whilst they do not attract the force of law, must nevertheless be taken into account when an independent hospital seeks registration. These standards set, for example, the minimum time between an initial consultation and the cosmetic surgery procedure being undertaken.  Most healthcare experts advise that a patient should have at least a two week period between the initial consultation and the surgery to enable the patient has adequate time to reflect on their choice.  There is also guidance about psychological counselling which is recommended in most cases. In addition patients should be provided with written guidance on the terms and conditions of service and the contract.  

The specialist lawyers at Slee Blackwell Solicitors will take all these factors into account when pursuing a cosmetic surgery negligence claim.  Victims of surgical errors often suffer the lasting effects of scarring and psychological trauma. We are mindful of these difficulties and will try to ensure you get your life back to normal as swiftly as possible.  As well as providing deserved compensation, commencing a negligence claim often draws attention to poorly skilled surgeons and unqualified organisations. This can helps to prevent other patients going through a similar ordeal. 

We deal with cosmetic surgery negligence claims on a No Win, No Fee basis and are always happy to carry out a preliminary case assessment to see whether a claim is likely to be suitable for this type of funding.

Our team of experienced and sympathetic lawyers understand the complexities of cosmetic surgery law.  Please do not hesitate to call us for an informal chat and a free review of your cosmetic surgery negligence claim. Alternatively you can email us at info@cosmeticsurgerylaw.co.uk