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Legal action for plastic surgery mistakes

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An ever increasing number of patients are taking legal action against plastic surgeons that have made mistakes during surgery intended to improve their looks, or as a result of over-optimistic client expectations.

Information has shown that facelifts, breast surgery, eyelid operations, weight loss procedures and nose reductions account for approximately 80% of the legal actions, with blunders that have led to damage pay outs of over £500K.

Cosmetic surgery claims are found in favour of the claimant in 45% of cases, this compares to 30% of cases for general medical compensation claims.

The report cites the example of a man that won £25K in damages after his face was burned during surgery to his eyelid and another patient who was awarded £10K after nose reduction surgery left him with problems. A young woman was also reported to have been given breast implants of the wrong size.

Other blunders left patients with asymmetrical features or scarring; several case inquiries revealed that patients did not undertake an appropriate or thorough assessment before surgery was carried out.

The MDU said that the increase in legal proceedings was due in part to a large rise in both patient expectations as well as the number of procedures being carried out as well as doctors not obtaining the correct patient consent and carrying out substandard work.

They were not prepared to give any further details regard the research due to commercial confidentiality, but they did say that the increase in cosmetic surgery claims over the last 5 year period had been significant.

The MDU also analysed the claims against plastic surgeons which included one claimant who has said her surgeon failed to obtain a fully informed consent or full medical history before her facelift was carried out. The woman had a stroke after her operation and her claim was settled for more than £500K.

The MDU has recommended that a pre-surgery psychological evaluation becomes mandatory in an attempt to identify patients with unrealistic expectations of cosmetic surgery.

It also recommends that clinics should be obliged to offer appropriate and sufficient aftercare rather than being allowed to ignore patients' complaints. Steps also need to be taken to prevent doctors from vanishing after they have caused suffering and to ensure that all staff who carry out cosmetic work to take out full liability insurance. In the past some staff that have scarred or burned patients accidentally with hot wax or laser treatments haven’t had the correct insurance