Plastic and cosmetic surgeries aim to improve the appearance or function of the body. If a plastic or cosmetic surgeon or any other healthcare professional involved in the procedure fails to provide proper patient care, patients may suffer unnecessary injuries and may have good reason to pursue a medical malpractice action.
Are You A Victim Of Cosmetic Surgery Medical Malpractice In Maryland?
Not all plastic and cosmetic surgery injuries are caused by medical negligence. To give rise to medical malpractice, the injury must be caused the healthcare provider's failure to act reasonably and in conformity with the standards of care in the medical profession. The negligence must result in significant harm and hardship. We can help you understand what went wrong in your cosmetic or reconstructive surgery case. Here are the most common types of plastic surgery medical malpractice:
- Breast Augmentation Malpractice: Breast augmentation also called breast mammoplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that uses implants or fat from other parts of the body to increase the size of the breasts or to restore the breasts after injury or surgical procedures like mastectomies (breast removal).
- Breast Implant Removal Malpractice: Breast implant removal, or breast “explant” surgery, usually occurs when women choose to augment or remove their breast implants.
- Breast Lift Malpractice: Breasts lift, or mastopexy, is a cosmetic procedure that removes skin around the breasts to raise or lift the breasts in order to improve their appearance.
- Breast Reduction Malpractice: Breast reduction surgery is a procedure where tissue and skin from the breasts are removed to reduce the size and shape of the breast.
- Buttocks Augmentation Malpractice: Buttocks augmentation with fat grafting, also called a Brazilian butt lift, is one of three cosmetic procedures that aim to increase the size of the buttocks.
- Buttock Implant Malpractice: Buttocks augmentation with implants is one of three cosmetic procedures that aim to increase the size of the buttocks.
- Forehead Lift Malpractice: A brow lift, or forehead lift, is a procedure that removes sagging skin from the forehead and reduces wrinkles.
- Nose Reshaping Malpractice: Nose reshaping, also known as rhinoplasty, is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States.
- Tummy Tuck Malpractice: A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a procedure that removes excess fat and skin while restoring weakened or separated muscles to help create a smoother and more firm abdominal profile.
- Calf Augmentation Malpractice: Calf augmentation is a procedure that uses fat grafting or implants to increase the size of the lower leg.
- Cheek Augmentation Malpractice: Cheek augmentation is a procedure that increases the contour of the cheek bone to improve appearance.
- Chin Augmentation Malpractice: Chin augmentation is a procedure that defines or increases the chin and enhances the profile of the face.
- Dermabrasion Malpractice: Dermabrasion is a surgical scraping procedure used to smooth the skin. It can be done to improve the look of the skin or for medical purposes.
- Ear Surgery Malpractice: Ear surgery, or ostoplasty, is a procedure that changes the shape or proportion of the ear.
- Eyelid Surgery Malpractice: Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is a procedure done to improve the appearance of the eyes by removing skin and fat from the eyelids to create a more youthful and rested look.
- Thigh Lift Malpractice: A thigh lift, or thighplasty, is a procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the inner and outer thighs to create a more aesthetically pleasing look to the legs.
- Upper Arm Lift Malpractice: An upper arm lift procedure, or brachioplasty is intended to, improve the appearance of the arms by removing excess skin and fat.
- Botox, Dysport, Xeomin Malpractice: Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are injectables that are used for both cosmetic and medical purposes.
- Laser Hair Removal Malpractice: Laser hair removal is a procedure that damages hair follicles in a way that prevents future hair growth by using highly concentrated light.
- Lower Body Lift Malpractice: A lower body lift, or belt lipectomy, is a procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the buttocks, thighs, hips, and abdomen.
- Pectoral Implant Malpractice: Pectoral implants, or pec implants, are a male chest enhancement procedure that increases the appearance of the pectoral muscles in the chest.
- Hair Transplant Malpractice: Hair transplant or replacement is a complex procedure that involves removing a strip of scalp, harvesting hair follicles, and grafting the follicles onto bald spots of the scalp.
- Lip Augmentation Malpractice: Lip augmentation surgery is a procedure that enhances the size and shape of the lips, either with an implant, fat transfer, or with injectable fillers.
- Lip Reduction Malpractice: Lip reduction, or cheiloplasty, is a procedure that reduces the size of the lips.
- Liposuction Malpractice: Liposuction is a procedure that removes pockets of fat from the body to improve the proportions and shape of the body.
- Facelift Malpractice: A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a procedure that lifts and smooths the face, removing wrinkles and tightening the skin.
- Cellulite Treatment Malpractice: Cellulite treatments aim to smoothen the skin by augmenting skin elasticity and thickness.
- Chemical Peel Malpractice: A chemical peel is a procedure that improves the appearance of the face. A chemical solution is applied to the face and old, damaged layers of skin are peeled off.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Malpractice: Intense pulsed light (IPL) photorejuvenation treatments use pulses of multiple wavelengths of light to treat skin pigmentation conditions caused by sun exposure, aging, or other factors.
- Laser Skin Resurfacing Malpractice: Laser skin resurfacing treatments, or laser peels, are procedures that decrease the appearance of fine lines on the face, improve skin tone, and even out the complexion after sun damage or trauma.
- Laser Treatment for Leg Vein Malpractice: Chronic vein disorders like varicose veins and spider veins can be treated with intravenous laser treatments and with laser treatments applied to the skin surface. Laser treatments will send bursts of light into the vein, which will destroy the vein or make it slowly disappear.
- Sclerotherapy Malpractice: Sclerotherapy is a procedure that eliminates varicose and spider veins using a solution injected directly into the vein.
- Soft Tissue Filler Malpractice: Soft tissue fillers, also known as injectable implants or dermal fillers, are a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure used to fill in fine wrinkles on the face and increase fullness to targeted areas.
Medical Errors In Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Are Common
Cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries serve different purposes: one is used to enhance the body, and the other to restore it after damage. Cosmetic surgery is solely focused on improving the aesthetic appearance of the patient. Reconstructive surgery focuses on reconstructive or restorative procedures such as burn repair. Often both are grouped under the term ‘plastic surgery'. Plastic surgeons are able to perform both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) in 2014, there were 15.6 million cosmetic procedures and 5.9 million reconstructive procedures.
Cosmetic surgery is often referred to as ‘elective surgery,' meaning it is not required for the benefit of a patient's health. Cosmetic procedures can be done anywhere on the body and are not necessary surgical procedures—they can include injections like Botox, laser procedures to reduce the appearance of lines or scars, and chemical peels.
Common cosmetic surgery procedures include:
- Breast augmentation
- Tummy tuck
- Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping surgery)
- Dermal fillers
- Eyelid surgery
- Arm lift
- Buttock augmentation
Plastic surgery can include cosmetic surgery but is often restorative in nature. Restorative surgery aims to repair the function of abnormal body parts that are the result of trauma, surgery, tumors, birth defects, infection, or other diseases.
Common reconstructive plastic surgery procedures include:
- Tumor removal
- Laceration repair
- Maxillofacial surgery (surgery of the jaws and face)
- Scar revision
- Hand surgery
Risks of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgeries
Like most medical procedures, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries come with serious health risks. Risks include:
Elective cosmetic surgery also comes with the risk that the surgery may not produce your desired results.
Choosing the Right Doctor To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Medical Malpractice
Cosmetic surgeries have become increasingly popular. Since 2000, there had been a 748% increase in Botox procedures and an over 4,600% increase in upper arm lift procedures. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that Americans spent 12.9 million dollars on cosmetic procedures in 2014.
The popularity and high costs of these procedures attract many doctors to plastic and cosmetic surgery. This makes it important to understand the qualifications of the surgeon. Doctors may recommend additional or unnecessary procedures to increase their revenue. Alternatively, a doctor may be too inexperienced to perform the procedure you desire.
Plastic and cosmetic surgeons have different qualifications. Plastic surgeons are required to learn a broad array of skills, while cosmetic surgeons specialize and spend more time than plastic surgeons learning skills specific to cosmetic surgery. Plastic and cosmetic surgeons can also be given privileges to perform surgeries in hospitals, and it is important for patients to know which hospitals awarded privileges to their surgeon.
According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, plastic surgeons must be certified in general surgery, and receive two additional years of plastic surgery training, which includes reconstructive procedures. Cosmetic surgery qualifications are awarded in post-residency programs and differ depending on the program. The highest qualification is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, which means the doctor completed a one-year fellowship specifically in cosmetic surgery.
Often, malpractice cases result when inexperienced doctors attempt to perform cosmetic or plastic surgery they are not qualified to perform.
Medical Malpractice Standard Of Care For Plastic Surgeons
Plastic and cosmetic surgeons, like all other medical professionals, are required to provide medical care consistent with the standard of care in the profession. The standard of care dictates that a doctor should act in a way that other doctors would act in the same or similar circumstances. Failing to do so may result in serious harm to the patient, and may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Plastic and cosmetic surgeons are also legally required to warn patients of all possible and material risks of surgery. Some risks will be general to all surgical procedures, and some will be specific to the planned procedure.
Surgeries that change the appearance of the body have additional risks associated with the expectations and emotional health of the patient. Both reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries will have a major impact on the emotional well-being of the patient. As such, it is important for patients to understand the possible outcomes of the procedure.
Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Malpractice In Baltimore
Choosing to undergo reconstructive or cosmetic procedures can be emotional for many people. A mistake during the procedure can result in serious, physical, emotional, and financial hardship. If your cosmetic or plastic surgery has been mishandled by a health care provider, you may be eligible for compensation. To have a medical malpractice case, the following must be established:
- You were in a surgeon-patient relationship, so the doctor (or medical professional who is the subject of the claim) was responsible for providing medical care within the standard of care in the profession;
- The surgeon was negligent or otherwise failed to comply with the standard of care;
- The breach in the standard of care resulted in serious harm.
While all surgeries come with risks, patients should expect their surgeon to perform the surgery properly. Many patients each year suffer physical and emotional injuries as a result of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. The most common complications include:
- Anesthesia error
- Nerve damage
- Under or over-correction
- Fluid buildup
- Wrong size of implants
- Excessive scarring
- Significant blood loss
- Leaking implants
- Dissatisfaction with the appearance or result
- Organ damage
- Need of additional corrective procedures
- Medication complications
- Post-operative misconduct
- Absence of an informed consent
Difficulties with Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Malpractice Cases
Not all breaches of the standard of care result in malpractice. To be successful in a medical malpractice case, serious injuries and other hardship must result from negligence. Cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries sometimes result in undesired outcomes or in minor injuries like scars. Such cases are unlikely to give rise to successful medical malpractice claims.
Jury appeal is an important aspect of malpractice cases involving cosmetic or plastics surgery. Jurors may have a predisposition to be unsympathetic and biased towards a patient who has undergone an elective cosmetic surgery and came out with undesired results. If the procedure didn't need to be done and wasn't used for reconstructive purposes, jurors may believe the results came at the patient's own risk. Defense attorneys are generally aware of this bias and often exploit to their benefit in litigation.
The malpractice cases that are likely to succeed are the ones where a patient suffered a serious injury, or ones where the injury resulted in sudden death. Cases, where the surgeon is not just negligent but grossly negligent and reckless, are also likely to succeed. While many other more minor injuries occur as a result of malpractice, patients will often find very few attorneys who are willing and able to help.
It is also true that not all injuries are the result of malpractice. Sometimes injuries are unavoidable; this is why it is so important for doctors to make patients aware of all possible risks of the surgery. Medical malpractice attorneys can review your case and help you understand if an injury is the result of malpractice.
Getting Legal Help For Your Cosmetic Surgery Case From A Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of medical malpractice during plastic or cosmetic surgery, call our offices today for a free consultation, or schedule one online.
Injuries from malpractice in reconstructive or cosmetic procedures can result in permanent disfigurement, disability, and even in death. We are experienced in representing patients who have suffered from medical negligence during these procedures. Our office has a medical professional on staff who can evaluate your case to determine if your injury was caused by malpractice.