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Tens of thousands of UK men and women undergo cosmetic surgery every year and although most patients are satisfied with the results many patients suffer disfigurement due to medical negligence which entitles them to receive compensation. The rise in the number of cosmetic surgery procedures carried out in the United Kingdom has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in claims by cosmetic surgery solicitors. More than 50,000 cosmetic surgery procedures are conducted every year with most of them being done privately. The cost of this specialist surgery runs to more £200 million annually. Most of the patients who currently have this treatment carried out are women though the percentage of men undergoing these procedures rises every year.

Regulatory Body

Many surgeons performing cosmetic surgery have received no formal training, yet continue to practice, due to inadequacies and discrepancies in the law. Recent changes in standards and regulations require new cosmetic surgeons to be adequately trained however medical practitioners registered before the new regulations came into effect are still permitted to practice in the field of cosmetic surgery without any adequate regulation. While injuries may be caused by under qualified surgeons due to this technicality there are in any event thousands of medical negligence compensation claims every year against those surgeons who are regulated under the recent legislation.

While problems with cosmetic surgery may not be life threatening in the majority of procedures, there are many complaints to cosmetic surgery solicitors where the operation has produced excessive scarring or damage to nerves. A regulatory body has only recently been set up in the UK to monitor cosmetic surgery clinics and surgeons. Previously, any medical practitioner could perform cosmetic surgery without the necessary training and, indeed, still do today; however, recent implementation of standards and regulations ensure that training and qualifications of any new practitioners applying to carry out cosmetic surgery mean improved performance. However, with these new laws governing cosmetic surgeons, mistakes still happen and patients still receive unnecessary scarring and other injuries.

Most surgical procedures are carried out efficiently under the skilful hands of certified cosmetic surgeons and their equally-capable medical staff. There are times however when a patient may become injured and require the services of a firm of medical negligence solicitors. It is an unfortunate fact that only doctors who were registered after the 1st of April 2002 are covered by the training and qualification regulations of the Care Standards Act 2000 that was responsible for setting up the National Care Standards Commission which guarantees that private cosmetic surgeons and the clinics within which they operate are subject to central government control. Doctors whose practice pre-dates the 1st of April 2000 cut-off may still practice cosmetic surgery even though they may not have undergone any further specialist training.

Informed Consent

Some victims of negligent plastic surgery base their claim on the allegation that they never received advice about a possible unsatisfactory outcome and were disappointed or distraught at the final results which may include obtrusive scarring or internal injuries. Doctors are obliged to discuss all possible options with their patients in order to appraise them of the risk that the final outcome may not be what the patient wants and desires. If a doctor has not done so the patients consent is not 'informed consent' and as such the doctor may be liable to pay damages in a medical negligence compensation claim if the result of the surgery is less than satisfactory. Surgery to the face and cosmetic breast surgery result in the highest number of complaints whilst poor surgical technique and lack of aftercare are another common source of legal action bu cosmetic surgery solicitors. Some injuries during liposuction, including bowel damage, can be life threatening.

Time Limits

If you have been the victim of medical negligence you should seek advice from a specialist cosmetic surgery solicitor at the first opportunity. There are time limits and failure to comply with limitation legislation could mean that the opportunity to claim compensation is lost forever.

Common Claims

The majority of the claims handled by medical negligence solicitors pertain to sub-standard surgical procedures or aftercare (especially in the areas of breast or facial surgery). The most common injuries from medical negligence where cosmetic surgery is concerned is scarring relating to breast or facial surgery. Common claims resulting from medical negligence include: lack of explanation of the potential risks and outcome of the surgery; unacceptable scarring following a face lift; excessive scarring and unevenness from a breast enlargement or reduction; scarring and damaging of the bowel from liposuction and nerve injuries following a face lift.

Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors

Solicitors usually specialise and the Solicitors Regulation Authority operates a panel of specialist clinical negligence solicitors whose members are authorised to apply for legal aid failing which most of them also operate the no win no fee* scheme however potential claimants are usually expected to fund their own expenses and disbursements. If you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence through cosmetic surgery and have obtrusive, unwanted scarring or internal injuries, you should discuss your problems and the possibility of a claim against the clinic in question with a cosmetic surgery solicitor.

Cosmetic Surgery Information

We've all seen plastic surgery complications. There are celebrities at every turn who have undergone plastic surgery that just didn't go right. Unfortunately it happens in regular people as well and the outcome is not what was suspected. That is the most common complication of plastic surgery. You expect one thing to happen and wake up with a completely different look. Looking unnatural is the most common complication of plastic surgery.

Other plastic surgery complications are more serious. Consider the case of Donda West, the mother of hip-hop star Kanye West. She had a tummy tuck and subsequently died of postoperative complications. The bigger the surgery and the older the patient, the greater is the risk of plastic surgery complications such as death. Plastic surgery is real surgery that carries the same anaesthesia risks and heart risks of any surgery.

There are things you can do to reduce your risks of plastic surgery complications. You need first to do your homework about the risk and benefits of the surgery you are complicated. Ask your doctor what the morbidity and mortality rate is of the surgery you are having. Look up complication rates on your computer and ask yourself whether or not your surgery is worth the risk. Make sure your expectations of the surgery are realistic. You can't expect to really look like your favourite movie star after a simple plastic surgery procedure.

Ask your surgeon about his or her successes and failures. Make sure the surgeon knows your full medical history because complications can arise due to your failure to disclose important health information. You can also talk to other patients who have had surgeries under the care of the surgeon you are looking to have plastic surgery with. Make sure the facility you are having surgery at is accredited as well. This is true of hospitals and outpatient surgery centres. They are bound to a certain set of rules and regulations that aren't true of places who are not accredited.

Find out the details of the surgery you are having. Ask the surgeon what complications are possible. These can include excessive bleeding, nerve damage, poor outcome, heart complications, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolus (which can be fatal) or other complications. In facial surgeries, the facial nerve can be damaged and this can cause permanent weakness of a part of your face or permanent numbness of the face. Eye cosmetic surgery can result in loss of vision or damage to the eyes as well as problems closing the eye or with the appearance of the eye. Tummy tucks or body contouring procedures are major procedures that can end in death, poor outcome, nerve damage, excessive bleeding or complications such as a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolus.

Even at the highest level of care, surgery has its risks and benefits. You need to discuss these with your doctor before the surgery. There are complications that are unavoidable and complications due to the error of the doctor. You need to speak to another doctor or to an attorney to decide whether or not your complication was a natural expectation of the surgery or an error on the part of the doctor.



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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here