While most surgical procedures pose a low risk of complications and injury, no surgery is risk-free. Plastic surgery- including both reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery- is no exception to surgical error. Plastic surgeons must exercise a high degree of medical competency and care when treating patients. Failure to provide the level of skill, care, and treatment that a reasonable plastic surgeon would provide under similar circumstances may constitute medical malpractice. Medical malpractice, simply defined, is “treatment that doesn’t meet accepted medical standards, which causes injury to the patient.”
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or harm at the hands of a plastic surgeon, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your past and future medical expenses (including the cost of corrective/revision surgery), loss of income, disfigurement, disability, emotional pain and suffering, and more.
To learn more about plastic surgery malpractice in New York and New Jersey, please contact us to speak with the renowned medical malpractice attorneys at The Oshman Firm. We are available to evaluate your case to determine the best way to protect your interests.
Plastic Surgeons’ Responsibilities
Plastic surgeons have a number of legal obligations, which work to protect patients from bad plastic surgery and unqualified practitioners. By rendering care to a patient, a plastic surgeon implies that they possess the education, training, and prudent skill necessary to practice plastic surgery safely.
When it comes to plastic surgery, surgeons also have a legal obligation to disclose all possible risks- both minor and major- to their patients prior to surgery. Plastic surgeons are required to offer this important information, whether or not their patients request such information.
Certain risks accompany virtually all surgeries, including risk of blood clots, anesthesia or medication reactions, infection, respiratory complications, and death. Other risks may be specific to a particular procedure. For example, breast augmentation carries the unique risk of resulting in capsular contracture, whereby the scar tissue around the breast hardens and squeezes the implant, causing pain and disfigurement that often requires additional surgery.
Plastic surgeons have a duty to disclose the risks of a desired procedure so that a patient can make an informed decision about what is best for them. By law, a surgeon must disclose the most probable known dangers of surgery and their likelihood of occurring.
Bad Plastic Surgery Risks
A number of factors can increase the risk that plastic surgery errors will occur, including but not limited to:
A patient’s unrealistic expectations about the procedure:
While plastic surgery can produce astounding results, procedures are often limited in their ability to generate the specific and exact changes a patient desires. For this reason, it is important for a patient to learn exactly what to expect before, during, and after their surgery. On the other hand, plastic surgeons must also apply skill and prudence to produce desired aesthetic results in accordance with a patient’s reasonable expectations.
A patient’s poor pre-operative physical or emotional health:
Prior to undergoing plastic surgery, it is important for patients to be in good physical and emotional health. Patients who smoke are advised to stop at least two weeks before surgery to prevent complications. Certain supplements and medications should also be ceased before surgery, as they too can increase the risk of complications. It is also important for patients to sufficiently examine their motives for seeking surgery and develop realistic expectations about plastic surgery.
To avoid risks associated with poor physical or emotional health, it is important for a surgeon to conduct a thorough pre-surgical exam covering a patient’s past and current physical and emotional health and surgery-seeking motives.
Prolonged surgery, multiple procedures, or both:
Prolonged surgery and undergoing multiple procedures simultaneously both increase the risk of complications from plastic surgery. It is important to understand such risks before going under the knife.
Surgeon under-qualification or inexperience:
Plastic surgery requires a great degree of knowledge and skill. Surgeons who are insufficiently trained or unqualified to perform particular procedures pose a great risk of producing bad, and even injurious, results. To avoid plastic surgery risks, it is important to use a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience successfully performing the specific procedure you desire. Do your homework, ask lots of questions, meet with a number of surgeons, and be sure that you feel comfortable and confident with the surgeon you choose.
Common Plastic Surgery Complications that Give Rise to Claims
As mentioned above, certain complications can occur with virtually any plastic surgery procedure, while some are specific to particular procedures. In the following list of plastic surgery complications, those specific to a type of surgery will show the procedure in parentheses. (Note: this list may not be inclusive)
- Prolonged sedation leading to injury/ complications
- Disfigurement or disability
- Under or over-correction
- Anesthesia errors
- Numbness/ nerve damage
- Post-operative mismanagement
- Encapsulation (breast augmentation)
- Wrong size (breast implants)
- Loss of nipple or breast skin cover (breast surgeries)
- Excessive skin removal (face lift)
- Dry eyes/ inability to close eyes (face lift)
- Blistering/burning (chemical peels)
- Lidocaine overdose (liposuction)
- Pulmonary edema or pulmonary embolism (liposuction)
- Complications causing corrective procedures
- Medication reactions or interactions
- Sexual misconduct (by surgeon or employee against patient)
- Improper or non-consensual use of before and after photos
The number one claim brought against plastic surgeons in medical malpractice claims is “improper performance” or failure to meet the standard of care reasonably expected given the circumstances.
Plastic Surgery Malpractice Claims
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or emotional harm due to plastic surgery complications or errors, you may have the legal right to pursue a claim against those responsible. To be successful in a medical malpractice claim, you must be able to show the following:
- The existence of a surgeon-patient relationship (which implies a duty to care)
- That the duty to care was breached (the surgeon or other professional failed to meet reasonably expected standards)
- What injuries and damages you suffered
- That these damages were caused by the breech of duty (causal relationship/ proximate cause)
Once your eligibility to pursue a claim is established, your qualified team of attorneys will be responsible for gathering the important evidence and expert testimony required to build a strong case for you.
Seek Justice and the Compensation You Deserve
To learn more about how to seek the compensation you deserve after a plastic surgery injury, please contact us to speak with an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney. We offer a free no-obligation consultation during which we will examine your case to answer your questions and determine the best way to help you. Please contact us today to learn more about plastic surgery malpractice and your legal rights.