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Cosmetic Surgery and Medical Malpractice

Many people undergo plastic surgery to repair or change something about their physical presence. Trying to return to a youthful appearance, many go under the knife to nip and tuck their aging bodies. As with any surgical procedure, complications or the unexpected can occur. During these surgical interventions, a simple error may cause substantial injury. If victims want to file for medical negligence, they must be able to prove that a medical professional made a mistake during surgery. The error must have caused significant suffering or permanent damage. Unfortunately, not all errors that occur during surgery can be the basis of a malpractice lawsuit. It is a complicated process that must meet specific criteria.

Understanding Cosmetic Surgery

As of 2012, there were 14.6 million cosmetic procedures completed in the United States alone. 286,000 of these proceedings were breast augmentation. Rhinoplasty, or nose reshaping, accounted for 243,000 surgeries. Americans are passionate about turning back the hands of time, and they are willing to pay whatever it takes to accomplish their goal. However, there is a distinct difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. While they are in the same category, they are not the same types of procedures. Plastic surgery reconstructs something that is damaged or defected. Cosmetic surgery is used to enhance a client’s appearance. The most common types of cosmetic surgeries done today are:

  • Liposuction;
  • Breast Augmentation;
  • Eyelid surgery;
  • Tummy Tuck;
  • Nose Job;
  • Face Lift;
  • Neck Lift;

Medical Malpractice And Cosmetic Surgery

Surgeons are bound by the same medical malpractice laws regarding cosmetic surgery as the ones that perform any other types of procedures. When it comes to law, the kind of surgery makes no difference, especially when it comes to surgical errors. If you want to build a medical malpractice case, you must follow three general elements:

  • A Doctor-Patient Relationship;
  • A Breach in Medical Care;
  • An Injury caused by That Breach;

The doctor-patient relationship is easy to prove, and it is not usually disputed during a courtroom battle. Secondly, a legal team must determine that the medical standard of care was breached, which can be a bit more challenging in some cases. The court wants to determine whether another surgeon would have acted differently while doing the same procedure.

The other doctor’s actions must be valid and show that the outcome would have been different. They point out the errors that occurred on the operating table, and they use witness testimony to determine their validity. The cosmetic field is highly specialized; the attorneys and the victim must find an expert who has experience in the area and has performed this type of surgery before. The witness needs to show how everything occurred to prove that the surgeon was in error. The court discusses the mistakes and what happened as a result.

Consent Forms Cause Trouble In Court

Surgeons always inform their patients of the risks before any surgery. A nurse usually takes time and goes through all the possible complications associated with that particular procedure. No matter what type of surgery clients undergo, there will be risks involved.

Establishing the injury can be rather difficult. When a patient knows the potential dangers and agrees to follow through with the surgery despite its possible outcome, it does not always mean malpractice. Rather, some instances may be present during operation, and the harm may have been unavoidable given the situation at that time.

One thing that clients must keep in mind is that if they do not like the results of the procedure, it is not grounds for medical malpractice. The court considers this an unreasonable base for a lawsuit, and the case will not get very far. Many juries often assume the patient is not happy with the outcome, even if it can be proven that medical malpractice occurred. Some judges are biased in cosmetic surgery cases, which can be a challenge to overcome.

Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

The law sets time limits on how long clients have to file a medical malpractice suit. These rules are called statutes of limitations, and these laws vary from state to state. Each state has specific guidelines that must be followed. In many cases, there are procedural requirements to follow through with this type of case.
Some common medical malpractice issues are often the basis for a lawsuit:


  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Complications with Anesthesia
  • Nerve Damage
  • Aesthetic Damage
  • Gross Disfigurements

Having some after effects of surgery is normal. Common side effects include swelling, bruising, and pain. These are not permanent conditions, and they cannot be involved in medical malpractice suits.

Filing A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Many cases require an affidavit from an expert to even consider the motion. Having a medical malpractice attorney is imperative in this type of case. This area of the law is one that needs legal expertise to be successful. Clients need to ensure that their rights are protected, which means they need a strong legal team working on their behalf. Medical malpractice happens regularly, though it can be hard to prove.

Those who have incurred injuries due to medical malpractice must speak with an experienced attorney.  An attorney can take the emotional and financial burden away, and properly and efficiently settle the case.


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