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Cosmetic Surgery and Informed Consent

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The cosmetic industry is almost totally unregulated but what can you do when your treatment goes wrong?  

Confronted by the perfect images that adorn the front pages of numerous glossy magazines it is perhaps not surprising that more and more women and increasingly men are considering cosmetic surgery.
Recent statistics suggest that borrowing for cosmetic surgery is now the third most common reason for getting into debt in the UK.  
Bodged botox, breast surgery, liposuction, rhinoplasty, facelifts, laser eye surgery, dermal fillers and laser treatments can all lead to problems post-surgery.
Yet despite the fact that cosmetic surgery can have side effects is surprisingly under regulated.  In fact any qualified Doctor can offer cosmetic surgery without any formal or specialist training.  Some surgeons conducting cosmetic procedures do not have the necessary specialist skills to perform surgery safely.
Rules were introduced to ensure that all surgeons and doctors registering to carry out cosmetic surgery after 1st April 2002, have to undergo specialist surgical training before being allowed to conduct cosmetic surgery. However, anyone who registered before that date remains unregulated and may any specialist surgical training.
If surgery goes wrong, this may be a breach of contract due to the fact that it is private treatment, as well as negligence.
Following the PIP implant scandal the NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, was commissioned to lead a review of the industry which is worth in excess of £2.3 billion a year.  The aim of the review is to safeguard the often vulnerable people that are drawn to cosmetic surgery.     
Alongside this, the law regarding clinical negligence and informed consent to ANY surgical procedure has in recent months taken a giant step forward.  
The law on informed consent has recently changed following a Supreme Court judgment which held that there is a duty upon a doctor to warn patients of any material risks involved in recommended treatment
Doctors must now ensure that patients are aware of any “material risks” involved in any proposed treatment and this has a relevance to elective cosmetic procedures.
“As gradually the industry sees an increase in regulation an emphasis should be placed on ensuring a patient is fully informed, over a number of consultations, with regard to what the surgery entails and the risks involved. Consultations should include an exploration of the patient’s understanding, knowledge, beliefs, values and concerns, identifying the factors that are significant to them and this can only be welcomed by all in the industry,” said specialist medical negligence solicitor, Jacqueline White.  
“When considering cosmetic surgery the first port of call should always be the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons’ website (BAAPS) with its Consumer Safety Guidelines providing an excellent starting point and information source,” she advised.
When considering plastic surgery it is important to remember the following:-
1.    Make your own decisions
2.    Be informed 
3.    Be comfortable
4.    Know your Surgeon
5.    Get the timing right
6.    Beware of free consultations and two for one offers
7.    Think about locations
8.    Talk to your GP
9.    You can always change your mind
10.    Take your time

This is a sensitive area and Pearson’s provide a sensitive service - you can chat through your case with one of our qualified solicitors or our in house nurse advisor in total confidence and at no obligation.
Whilst mistakes are rare they can be life changing to those involved and you can claim compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of earnings, medical and nursing care costs, specialist equipment needed to carry out daily activities, costs in adapting your home and any other expenses incurred as a result of your injury.
If you have concerns about a cosmetic procedure undertaken within the last three years and would like to enquire as to whether you might have a clinical negligence claim please call 0161 785 3500 or email us at










Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Jacqueline White


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