Can You Sue for Bad Plastic Surgery Results? Here’s What You Need to Know
Plastic surgery patients are getting younger every year. With everybody and their Teen Mom getting lifted and tucked on social media, the average age of female patients has dwindled to a new low of 39 years old. There’s even a trend of parents funding procedures for their children as an incentive for graduating from college.
Meanwhile, the money spent is growing. The plastic surgery industry rakes in over $16 billion a year, and it’s not all from celebrities. As it becomes more convenient and less painful, more normal people are getting work done.
And more people are regretting it.
A study in the UK shows that 65% of women regret getting plastic surgery and most aren’t happy with the results. Even supermodel Gisele confessed her misgivings over altering her appearance.
If you find yourself among those regretting bad plastic surgery, you may be able to take legal action.
Differences Between Elective and Restorative Plastic Surgery
There are two types of plastic surgery: elective plastic surgery and restorative. The distinction can impact your ability to win or even file a lawsuit.
Elective Cosmetic Surgery
Elective cosmetic surgery is exactly that. It’s a voluntary procedure to improve the patient’s appearance. While the patient might think plastic surgery is vital to mental health, the law doesn’t agree.
The most common elective surgery is breast augmentation. Liposuction, tummy tucks, nose jobs, and face and neck lifts are also popular. They range in price, from several thousand dollars to over $12,000, and they also range in level of assumed risk.
The Brazilian butt lift is among the most dangerous procedures. Popularized by the pursuit of the cartoonish proportions of the Kardashian set, it uses fat transfers to reshape the buttocks.
The Florida Health Department charged a Miami doctor with malpractice after the death of one of his patients. When performing a butt lift, he accidentally injected fat into a deep gluteal vein. She went into a coma and died shortly after.
Restorative Plastic Surgery
Restorative or reconstructive, plastic surgery corrects disfigurement due to injury or illness. Breast reconstruction, scar treatments, burn care, cleft palate repair, even hand transplants fall under the umbrella of restorative plastic surgery.
Because it’s deemed necessary, restorative surgery is often covered by health insurance. As such, it has stricter requirements and carries fewer risks of unqualified care.
What Constitutes Malpractice?
When you talk about a cosmetic surgery lawsuit, what you’re actually referring to is a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are entire law firms dedicated to medical malpractice, like Silberstein, Awad & Miklos.
The three main characteristics of malpractice include an established doctor-patient relationship, a breach of the standard of care, and ensuing harm is done to the patient. Most malpractice cases against plastic surgeons hinge on a breach of medical standards.
Due to the nature of plastic surgery fads, many unqualified practices pop up trying to capitalize on the current craze. If the practice fails to provide informed consent in their haste to make easy money, that negligence can be grounds for malpractice.
Informed consent involves explaining all risks and possible side effects before surgery begins. Taking a patient’s medical history, including drug interactions or previous surgeries, into consideration is critical.
Unsanitary operating spaces and practices also affect the standard of care. A surgeon might perform the procedure on the wrong body part or on the wrong patient. He might leave objects inside the patient by accident.
Improper administration of anesthesia is another practitioner error worth suing for.
Obstructions to Winning
Even with an argument for malpractice, the specialized nature of cosmetic surgery lawsuits can make them difficult to win. The injury is sometimes more esoteric than physical. Issues like body dysmorphia make it even more complicated.
Then there’s the added caveat of securing an expert witness. Someone experienced in the field and familiar with the procedure gone wrong will have to testify to establish the standard of care. In some states, your attorney will have to file a sworn affidavit.
There’s also a statute of limitations on plastic surgery lawsuit cases. It can be as short as two years, depending on where you live.
Burden of Proof
The burden is on the patient to demonstrate that damage has been done as a result of the operation. Proving that the plastic surgery results are injurious and not just ugly is hard. Things like MRSA infections or complications from anesthesia or even nerve damage are concrete examples of harm.
Plastic surgery is so expensive that it’s easy for patients to feel wronged by mixed results. They believe, as customers, that they should get their money’s worth, like going back after a bad haircut and demanding a fix.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and a lawsuit may not be the venue for validating those frustrations.
Hung Up Jury
Because plastic surgery is not life or death, it’s easy for a jury to get hung up on the fact that the patient volunteered to have surgery. The choice to have your body cut open and then suffer through recovery is a polarizing concept.
Nobody needs a breast augmentation, so why punish the surgeon?
Why feel sorry for someone who can afford to be so narcissistic?
Something innate causes jurors to bristle at and punish plastic surgery patients. They assume they’re shallow or too lazy to lose weight, even if those things are not true. Some jurors would never even consider plastic surgery, which further colors their opinion.
In cases where that bias is overcome, patients sometimes still don’t win what they could have. The awarded damages end up being lower than other comparable medical malpractice compensation. The jury thinks the patient is partly liable for assuming the risk of surgery.
Can You Make a Case for Bad Plastic Surgery?
Are you a victim of bad plastic surgery? Are you one of the many regretting your choice? If your surgery didn’t go as planned because of malpractice, you might have a valid lawsuit.
Finding a malpractice lawyer to take your case is the first step.
We can help you get started! Contact us with questions or search our online attorney directory.