Increase in Cosmetic Surgery Also Means More Medical Malpractice


June 26, 2011

Plastic surgery is also known today by the term cosmetic surgery. Patients undergo cosmetic surgery for different reasons. Some get surgery on a body part because they are unhappy with their physical appearance. Others suffer from a disfigurement that they were born with or sustained due to an accident, and they undergo surgery to correct it.

It used to be that plastic surgery was relegated to the wealthy in society due to the high cost of the procedures, but that has all changed. About 60% of the almost 12 million patients that have these procedures done every year have a household income of only $30 -$90K.

A small percentage of the 11.5 million procedures done each year go wrong. The results of a bad cosmetic procedure can be traumatic, painful, embarrassing and possibly life-threatening. When a surgeon does not conform to accepted medical standards, then a patient may have a right to pursue a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice. These kinds of malpractice cases can be extremely challenging as negligence on the part of the doctor has to be proven, which requires medical experts and careful review and analysis of medical records, data and literature.

Common Types of Surgeries

Most people who seek cosmetic surgery believe that by having a certain procedure done it will improve their lives in some way. This is true for the vast majority of patients. When people feel good about the way they look, their confidence and self-esteem is greatly increased and they can experience better lives. Some patients also seek to correct a birth defect or to repair their body after suffering disfigurement in an accident. There are all types of cosmetic procedures that can potentially have bad outcomes and result in potential liability for medical malpractice including:

  • Rhinoplasty (Nose job)
  • Face lifts
  • Blepharoplasty (Eyelid surgery)
  • Forehead lifts
  • Breast implants
  • Breast reductions
  • Scar revisions
  • Laser surgery and skin resurfacing
  • Otoplasty (Ear surgery)
  • Tummy tucks
  • Liposuction
  • Hair replacement

There are always risks when undergoing any type of surgery, and cosmetic surgery is no exception. These surgeries often require general anesthesia, which always has some risks. There also may be complications during surgery that can result in permanent disfigurement, infections, scarring, illness and even death.

Sometimes these negative results are the product of the failure of the surgeon, other heath care professionals and/or the medical facility to exercise the appropriate level of skill and care of a similarly situated medical professional. When a surgery goes wrong, a patient can be left with numbness, nerve damage, uneven breast size, damage to the nipples, muscle damage, breathing problems, excessive bleeding, skin discoloration, internal bleeding and other serious injuries including wrongful death. A patient may have to undergo revisionary surgery that requires the patient spend more money and go through more pain.

Reasons for Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice

Medical practitioners who lack proper training and credentials are a couple of the prevailing reasons why the number of cosmetic surgery malpractice claims is increasing. The number of people out there who are seeking surgery for non-medical reasons has increased by about 59 percent since the year 2000. This increase in procedures has in turn promoted a rush to provide these services sometimes with less skill, experience, training or competence than patients have a right to expect.

There are a growing number of providers offering cosmetic procedures that are unqualified. They often operate outside of hospitals in clinic type settings and in some situations may have inferior equipment and less trained staff. The lure of money causes some of these physicians to operate outside of their field of expertise, seriously endangering their patients.

When you are considering plastic surgery, you should talk to friends or family that have had similar procedures. It is also a good idea to get recommendations for a qualified physician. Anyone considering plastic surgery is also advised to seek out as much information as possible before arranging the procedure. When you go in and interview a potential physician, you will be in a better position to ask questions. It is also advisable to consider interviewing more than one physician.

Check the physician's credentials. A reputable plastic surgeon should be a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. It is recommended that you verify that the plastic surgeon you are considering is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. It may also be safer to work with a plastic surgeon that has hospital affiliations, works only in accredited ambulatory centers and uses only Board-Certified Anesthesiologists. You can even inquire about their experience with your particular procedure.

Lawsuits and Recovery

When a surgeon fails his patient and makes mistakes in plastic surgery, the complications that result can last a lifetime for the medical malpractice victim. There is not just the physical problems that arise, but the mental anguish and emotional issues that a patient can suffer due to an altered appearance or physical injuries. When a patient dies on the operating table, the patient’s family is left behind with their grief and possibly enormous financial distress. By suing for wrongful death, it is possible to recoup compensation including but not limited to medical expenses and funeral costs.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a plastic surgery procedure gone bad, we invite you to contact our office to speak with our knowledgeable Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice resulting from plastic surgery, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At Montlick and Associates, we represent cosmetic surgery injury victims with compassion and diligence.

Montlick and Associates is available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.