Nowadays, cosmetic surgery is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people who want to enhance their appearance. In the past, plastic surgery was mainly used to reconstruct body defects caused by birth disorders, trauma or disease and improve their functioning.
With cosmetic procedures becoming more affordable, more and more people choose to undergo surgery and beauty treatments to improve their physical aspects. While it is a viable option to boost self-esteem and appearance, some procedures involve risks and might result in poor outcomes.
While you can suffer an unsatisfactory outcome despite the professionalism and training of cosmetic specialists, errors are sometimes due to negligent treatment.
If cosmetic surgery is performed without the necessary standard of care, knowledge and skill, it can cause physical and psychological damage to patients, with devastating effects.
If you or someone you love suffered an injury due to negligent cosmetic care, you might be entitled to make a cosmetic surgery claim. You can receive compensation to pay for corrective treatments and cover damages for your pain and suffering.
Can I make a cosmetic surgery compensation claim?
If you experienced a poor outcome following a cosmetic surgery procedure, you might be entitled to make a compensation claim. A free consultation with a legal adviser can let you know your chances of success and whether it’s worth taking legal action.
Usually, you could qualify for cosmetic surgery compensation if:
- The care you received was below the accepted medical standard in the field, meaning your medical professional breached their duty of care.
- The injury, damage or loss you suffered was directly caused by negligent surgery.
- You received poor treatment or became aware of the damage in the last three years.
If the results of your cosmetic surgery do not reflect what you were expecting, before deciding to make a cosmetic surgery negligence claim, you should:
- Talk with your surgeon, trying to understand what happened and for what reason, and give yourself time to reflect. Some problems might resolve in time as your body heals.
- Consider getting a second cosmetic procedure if you are not satisfied with the result after the healing process. Discuss the details and worst-case scenario with your surgeon and make an informed decision. Your doctor might not charge you for revision surgery.
- Consider finding a new surgeon. You might prefer to get a second opinion at this point to ease your doubts and gain a new perspective on your options.
- Make a formal complaint about the surgeon who performed your cosmetic procedure. They might offer to meet with you and discuss your concerns, but patients are usually unsatisfied with the result of their complaints.
- Consider taking legal action. If your attempts to solve the issue directly with the doctor or clinic fail, you might want to seek independent legal advice.
If you decide to make a cosmetic surgery claim, your solicitor will help gather the relevant evidence to prove breach of duty and causation. They might also arrange a free medical exam with a specialist to assess the extent of your injury and how it might be corrected.
What are the most common types of cosmetic surgery claims?
Cosmetic surgeries increased five-fold between 2003 and 2015, with 51,000 procedures carried out in 2015. In 2019, the number fell to 27,000 from over 28,000 in 2018 according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). Although it is a multi-million-pound industry, it remains one of the least regulated medical fields.
Over 90% of all procedures are carried out on women, with the most popular being breast augmentation, breast reduction, eyelid surgery and face and neck lifts.
Most cosmetic surgeries have risks that might affect your health and your appearance. Before you decide to proceed with a treatment, you should receive comprehensive information about the risk and what you might expect. Prior to surgery, you should address the following points:
- What and why do you want to change, and what are your expectations
- The available treatment options and whether you are a good candidate
- What the procedure will involve, potential risks and complications
- The experience and qualifications of the doctor carrying out the surgery
- The probable recovery time, likely results and how long they might last
- What are your options if you are not satisfied with the results
- What happens if something goes wrong
- Whether you might incur any additional costs
Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to provide the required medical standard of care to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient. Negligence in cosmetic surgery treatment includes:
- Procedural errors – Mistakes during the surgery may result in a physical injury such as nerve damage. A poor technique may lead to results other than the promised outcome or leave unacceptable body scarring.
- Failure to inform – Your cosmetic surgeon has a duty to advise you of all the risks, potential side effects and possible outcomes of the procedure. You must know all the relevant details before giving your informed consent for the procedure.
If a surgeon breaches their duty of care, you could experience errors during:
The number of breast augmentation procedures peaked in 2013 at over 11,000, then dropped in the subsequent years, reaching 4,700 in 2020. Short-term side effects include temporary pain, swelling, bruising, and chest tightness, which should resolve within a few weeks.
If things do not go as planned, complications include:
- Noticeable creases or folds in the implants
- Hardening of the breast tissue
- Thick scars that do not fade
- Infections that will require implant removal
- Being unable to breastfeed
- Nerve damage to the nipples
- Leaking of the implants, causing small lumps to form under the skin
In 2020, over 3,200 breast reduction surgeries were performed in the UK.
Other than running numerous health risks, breast reduction can interfere with some diagnostic procedures and affect the ability to breastfeed. Common complications after surgery are:
- Developing blood clots, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Breast asymmetry and shape irregularities
- Nerve damage causing loss of nipple or breast sensations
- Poor wound healing and infections
- Fatty tissue necrosis
- Infections and persistent pain
- Fluid accumulation and excessive firmness of the breast
Eyelid surgeries in the UK reached a peak in 2015 at around 8,700 operations performed, then continued dropping to 2,400 in 2020. Rarely this procedure is a medical necessity, used to restore vision if the excess skin hanging down from the upper lid blocks the visual field.
Most often, though, the surgery is purely cosmetic and carries many inherent risks, including:
- Infection and bleeding
- Injury to eye muscles
- Loss of eyesight
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Difficulty closing the eyes
- Blurred vision
Face and neck lift
In 2020, face and neck lift procedures amounted to 1,529, a decrease since the preceding year. Having a neck or facelift can reduce the folds of skin on the face and neck and other changes that come with age, but can cause several long-term or permanent complications, such as:
- Swollen, stiff and numb face
- Injury to nerves, permanently affecting sensations
- Temporary paralysis of a muscle
- Unsymmetrical appearance and facial expressions
- Hair loss near the incision sites
- Skin loss due to interrupted blood supply to the facial tissues
- Unfavourable scarring
- Poor wound healing and prolonged swelling
A nose job was the most common cosmetic procedure in men in 2013, with 1,037 surgical interventions. Rhinoplasty surgery reached its peak in 2013, with 4,048 nose jobs in men and women and decreased to 1,994 procedures performed in 2020.
Although a successful rhinoplasty surgery can bring personal benefits, there are potential risks and complications that might make you reconsider it, such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Permanent numbness in or around the nose
- A permanent feeling of a blocked nose
- Life-threatening infections
- Poor scarring
- Perforation of the nasal septum
- An altered sense of smell
Liposuction is used to remove fat tissue from areas of the body such as the abdomen, upper arms, buttocks or thighs. The number of procedures peaked in 2015 when over 5,500 surgeries were performed and dropped significantly to 1,600 in 2020. The associated risks are:
- Irregular contours and asymmetries
- Persistent swelling and poor wound healing
- Damage to deeper structures like nerves, blood vessels, muscles or organs
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Cardiac, kidney and pulmonary complications
- Rippling or loose skin
- Fat embolism travelling to the brain
Abdominoplasty is among the most popular cosmetic procedures, with 2,122 tummy tucks performed in 2020. Its main objective is to improve the body contour by removing excess skin and fat tissue, but it could also lead to long-term complications like:
- Skin necrosis
- Poor healing and persistent pain
- Excessive scarring and suboptimal aesthetic result
- Fluid accumulation and infections
- Umbilical anomalies
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
If you are thinking about getting cosmetic surgery, you should carefully evaluate all the possible risks and complications. If your surgeon makes a negligent mistake during surgery or fails to inform you of the possible outcomes, you might have a valid claim for cosmetic surgery compensation.
How much is a cosmetic surgery compensation claim worth?
A failed cosmetic surgery might be very distressing and bring you pain, suffering and further financial losses. By making a cosmetic surgery negligence claim, you could receive compensation to make your circumstances a bit easier.
The compensation award could cover:
- Costs of any corrective treatment you might need
- Your physical pain, suffering and discomfort
- Psychological and emotional distress, including anxiety and feeling of embarrassment
- Counselling support
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of capability and independence or difficulty in carrying out daily tasks
- Expenses for care and assistance
- Loss of a unique career or other professional opportunities
- Loss of consortium and relationship prospects
- Any other documented financial expenses
The award for general damages that you can claim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity is calculated based on the guidelines offered by the Judicial College and considering other compensations awarded in similar cases. Based on the Judicial College guidelines, you could get:
- £1,500 to £3,090 for trivial facial scarring
- £3,460 to £12,050 for less significant facial scarring that could still be concealed
- £7,990 to £26,380 facial scarring that is visible at a conversational distance
- £26,120 to £85,340 for severe facial scars with significant psychological trauma, especially in young people
- £2,080 to £19,930 for scarring to other parts of the body
- £1,350 to £5,130 for minor psychological damage
- £16,720 to £48,080 for moderately severe psychological damage affecting the ability to cope with life, education or work
- £3,460 to £88,270 for post-traumatic stress disorder with permanent effects or virtually full recovery within two years
In addition to these figures, you will also be able to claim cosmetic surgery compensation for any financial losses you incurred due to the poor outcome of your surgical procedure.
Your solicitor will consider all the ways in which the injury affected your life and calculate a suitable compensation amount. If the defendant admits liability and agrees with your compensation request, your claim will settle out of court.
Otherwise, your solicitor will issue court proceedings, and your solicitor will fight your case in front of a judge, presenting all the available evidence and having an expert witness testify on your behalf. The judge will then assess liability and decide on a suitable compensation award.
To find out what compensation you could receive if you make a successful cosmetic surgery negligence claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
How long do I have to start a claim for cosmetic surgery negligence?
Some swelling, bruising, pain and discomfort are common symptoms that should resolve within a few weeks after any cosmetic surgery and are not usually a cause for concern.
However, if the pain and swelling worsen instead of getting better, or you develop a fever and other worrying symptoms, you might start to suspect that something went wrong during your procedure.
If you received substandard care from your cosmetic surgeon, you might be entitled to make a cosmetic surgery claim. The time limits to start legal proceedings might differ depending on your circumstances.
You will have three years from the day of the surgery to start a claim if:
- You suffer an unexpected injury such as nerve damage during the procedure.
- Mistakes regarding the correct type, dosage or administration of the anaesthetic cause you an injury.
- Complications arise during surgery due to a misdiagnosis of your health condition.
- You suffer any surgical error that might cause health concerns.
Sometimes, the poor outcome of cosmetic surgery might not become apparent until a later date. In this situation, you will have three years to start a claim from the date of knowledge of your injury, if:
- You suffered an injury during recovery due to not receiving enough information on how to take care of yourself after the procedure.
- You were promised a different outcome.
- You suffered side effects or complications that were not discussed with you before the cosmetic surgery.
In the rare cases where a child needs cosmetic surgery, if they receive poor treatment, a litigation friend can claim medical negligence compensation on their behalf at any point before they turn 18. Afterwards, they have another three years to start their own claim.
If you decided to undergo cosmetic surgery abroad, the time limit to make a claim could vary significantly from country to country. To make sure you do not miss the opportunity to claim compensation, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible if you suspect medical negligence.
What evidence do I need to support a cosmetic surgery negligence claim?
In any medical negligence claim, you need relevant evidence to prove that the substandard care of a medical professional caused you an injury and unnecessary pain and suffering.
The most valuable piece of evidence in medical claims is your medical records. They will help to determine the type of negligence you could claim compensation for:
- Contributory negligence – if you are partially to blame for any injuries related to the surgery.
- Comparative negligence – if both you and the cosmetic surgeon share some blame for the outcome of your intervention.
- Vicarious liability – if the clinic or hospital where you had surgery is responsible for your injury. Another liable party could be the supplier of a faulty product or equipment used during the procedure.
- Gross negligence – if the surgeon clearly disregarded your health and safety by acting negligently during surgery. If they are found guilty, their license could be revoked.
If you are a victim of cosmetic surgery negligence and want to claim compensation, you should try to gather the following evidence:
- Photos of yourself before and after the surgery. You should take photographs at regular intervals during recovery and after any corrective surgery.
- A medical assessment with an independent specialist who will evaluate your injuries. They will produce a report stating how the negligent cosmetic surgery affected you physically and psychologically.
- Copies of correspondence with the cosmetic surgeon or the hospital regarding your procedure. They could prove you were misinformed about the risks and outcome of your surgery.
- Contact details of anybody who was with you during consultations. Your solicitor might ask them for a statement to help establish the facts.
- Copies of any complaint letters you might have filed regarding your surgery and the responses you received.
- Detailed notes of the pain and suffering you experienced, both physically and emotionally.
- A financial record of any costs linked to your injury, together with any relevant receipts.
If you are concerned about not being able to make a claim because you have little evidence, don’t worry. Your solicitor will help you gather everything you need to build a strong case.
Can I claim for cosmetic surgery negligence that happened abroad?
With people looking for cheaper cosmetic surgery options, the medical tourism industry is growing. Many UK citizens are travelling to other European countries for cosmetic treatment, but this might involve particular risks.
The safety standards, training and regulation of cosmetic surgery outside the UK might not be as high. Post-surgical complications could happen in any hospital in the UK as well as abroad.
Overseas clinics might not provide follow-up treatment, and even if they do, it might be complicated for you to go to a foreign country anytime you need professional care.
If something goes wrong, your entitlement to make a cosmetic negligence compensation claim might vary from country to country. You should check beforehand if the clinic or cosmetic surgeon has an insurance policy to cover your damages if something goes wrong.
The limitation date to start a claim might be much shorter than three years in some foreign countries. If you suffered medical negligence abroad, you must seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor to make sure you do not miss the claim limitation date.
Your solicitor will let you know if you have the right to make a cosmetic surgery negligence claim according to the foreign country’s jurisdiction, where you can bring the claim, and what is the time limit to start legal proceedings.
Can cosmetic surgery claims be made using no win no fee?
If you feel you were the victim of cosmetic surgery negligence and decide to get the help of a solicitor, they will offer you a free consultation. They will ask you questions about how the negligence occurred, the extent of the injuries you suffered and any other damages you incurred.
Due to the complex nature of medical negligence claims, you might need to cover an initial fixed fee so your solicitor can carry out an investigation to get a detailed perspective on your compensation prospects.
If they think you have a valid claim and your case is solid, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement, and you won’t have to pay anything else if you don’t receive compensation.
At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf, which provides coverage for all legal costs if you lose your claim.
You will only have to pay anything if you receive compensation. This is known as a success fee, and is paid to your solicitor to cover the cost of their services. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your compensation award and will be discussed and agreed upon before taking on your case.
A no win no fee agreement is the preferred funding option in personal injury claims. It involves no upfront fees, no hidden charges, and if your solicitor doesn’t secure compensation, you don’t have to pay anything, so you’re taking no financial risks.