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An Expert Guide To: Post-Surgery Complications

With the rise in popularity of cosmetic surgery, a greater need for awareness and understanding of the potential risks and complications that can arise post-surgery is necessary. While many procedures are successful, there are instances where individuals may face unexpected outcomes, and these can have long-lasting and even life-threatening consequences if not handled correctly.

This expert guide is designed to comprehensively cover the topic of post-surgery complications. We address questions and concerns about these complications, including how they arise, how medical negligence relates to them, and the steps you should take if they occur.

Understanding post-surgery complications

Post-surgery complications vary widely in severity and duration, affecting patients differently based on the type of surgery, the patient's personal health, and the type of complication and its severity. It is essential for anyone considering or having undergone cosmetic surgery to be aware of these potential complications, as early recognition and intervention can significantly impact recovery and outcomes.

Common types of complications include, but are not limited to:

  1. Infections: one of the most common post-surgery issues, infections can range from mild, requiring antibiotics, to severe, needing hospitalisation.

  2. Scarring: while all surgeries leave some scars, abnormal scarring can be particularly distressing in cosmetic procedures where aesthetic outcomes are paramount.

  3. Nerve damage: this can result in numbness, tingling, or even loss of sensation, which might be temporary or permanent.

  4. Hematoma and seroma: the collection of blood or fluid under the skin, respectively, and can cause swelling, pain, and other complications if not treated.

  5. Necrosis: the death of tissues, often due to insufficient blood supply, can lead to severe outcomes and may require additional surgeries to rectify.

Complications can be the fault of the patient or any medical professional involved. Factors influencing complications include:

  • Health of the individual: pre-existing health conditions and overall health status can significantly affect recovery and risk of complications.

  • Skill and experience of the surgeon: a highly skilled and experienced surgeon is less likely to make errors that could lead to complications.

  • Type of procedure: some surgeries are inherently more complex and carry higher risks.

  • Post-operative care: how well the patient follows the surgeon's post-operative care instructions can influence the healing process and potential for complications.

Understanding these complications and factors is the first step in preparing for a cosmetic surgery procedure. Being informed enables individuals to make better decisions, ask informed questions to their healthcare providers, and recognise early signs that might indicate a complication, ensuring prompt attention and care.

Medical negligence and post-surgery complications

While some post-surgery complications are inherent risks of the procedure, others can arise from medical negligence. This occurs when healthcare professionals fail to provide the standard of care that is expected in their field, leading to harm or injury to the patient. In relation to cosmetic surgery, this can manifest in various ways, such as through improper surgical technique, inadequate planning before the operation, inadequate care provided after the procedure, or the use of faulty or unsanitary equipment.

Negligence can turn what should be a routine recovery into a severe, sometimes life-altering situation. For instance, an infection that could have been easily treated if caught early might spread and cause significant damage if post-operative care was negligent. Similarly, a mistake made during surgery can lead to prolonged pain, additional corrective surgeries, and emotional distress.

Examples of negligence-induced complications could include:

  • Failure to properly monitor a patient post-surgery results in unaddressed complications like internal bleeding.

  • Incorrect technique leads to excessive scarring or asymmetry, requiring additional corrective surgeries.

Distinguishing between typical complications and negligence

After experiencing post-surgery complications, you should attempt to determine whether they are a normal part of the healing process or if they stem from medical negligence. This distinction is vital for your health and recovery but also for making cosmetic surgery negligence claims.

Most cosmetic surgeries come with a list of potential side effects and complications. Your surgeon should discuss this with you during the consent process and might include pain, swelling, bruising, and a period of restricted activity. Understanding these expected outcomes is essential so you can monitor your recovery and identify anything unusual. If your surgeon fails to inform you of these, this can be considered medical negligence.

Some indications that your complications might be due to negligence include:

  • Severe or prolonged pain: while some pain is expected, excessive pain or pain that lasts much longer than anticipated might be a sign of negligence.

  • Unusual symptoms: experiencing symptoms that are out of the ordinary for your procedure, such as extreme swelling might indicate a problem.

  • Excessive or inappropriate scarring: some scarring is inevitable, but excessive or inappropriate scarring could indicate negligence.

  • Asymmetry: marked asymmetry could indicate negligent surgical planning or performance.

Immediate steps to take if you experience complications

If you are experiencing complications after your cosmetic surgery, act swiftly and decisively. Taking the right steps early on can not only aid in your recovery but also support any potential legal action you may decide to pursue if the complications are due to medical negligence.

Seek medical attention

If you notice signs of complications, such as excessive pain, unusual swelling, fever, or any other concerning symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait for your next scheduled appointment. Initially, contact the surgeon who performed your procedure as they know the specifics of your surgery and can provide immediate advice. However, if you are unhappy with their service and suspect that they may have acted with negligence, seek attention from an independent medical professional, such as your GP. In cases of severe symptoms, such as intense pain, difficulty breathing, or signs of a severe infection, seek emergency medical care.

Document everything

Keep all your medical records, including any notes or instructions given by your surgeon before and after the procedure. Start a diary detailing your symptoms, when they started, and their progression. Include dates, times, and any relevant details. Take regular photographs of the affected area. These can provide a visual timeline of your complications and might be necessary evidence if you pursue a legal claim.

Avoid immediate confrontation

While it might be your instinct to confront your surgeon or medical team if you believe there has been negligence, it is essential to focus on your health first. Collect all the necessary information and seek legal advice before initiating any discussions about negligence.

Consult a solicitor

If you suspect that your complications are due to medical negligence, consulting a solicitor specialising in cosmetic surgery claims is a critical step. They can provide guidance on your legal rights and the next steps to take.

Taking these immediate steps can help ensure that you receive the care you need and set a solid foundation if you decide to pursue a cosmetic surgery negligence claim.

Legal options for complications arising from negligence

If you have experienced complications from cosmetic surgery and believe they were due to medical negligence, you may have legal options to seek compensation.

Compensation in cases of medical negligence is not just about financial compensation; it is also about acknowledging the pain, suffering, and potential long-term impact the negligence has had on your life. It can cover costs for corrective treatments, rehabilitation, lost earnings, and more.

To pursue a claim, you need to establish:

  1. Breach of duty: show that the care you received fell below the accepted medical standard.

  2. Causation: prove that this breach of duty directly caused your complications.

  3. Damages: demonstrate that you suffered physical, emotional or financial harm as a result.

Compensation is typically split into two categories which each detail the value of compensation you could receive:

  • General damages cover the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity experienced due to the complications.

  • Special damages cover financial losses, including medical expenses, travel costs to and from appointments, and lost income.

The value of this compensation depends on the severity and type of your injuries, the impacts they have had on your life and how they may impact you in the future, and the value of your financial expenses.

When you are ready to make a claim, you should consult with a solicitor specialising in cosmetic surgery procedures - such as those at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors. We understand the nuances of your case, and the medical terminology involved, and have access to a network of medical experts who can provide insights and evidence.

Making a claim can be daunting, but with the right legal team and a solid understanding of the process, you can pursue the compensation you deserve for the complications you've experienced.

Why seeking help from a solicitor is vital

A solicitor specialising in this field brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that is needed for navigating the complexities of a legal claim. While it is technically possible to make a legal claim on your own, it needs to be revised. There are many pitfalls in the process, and any mistakes can leave you to miss out on a significant amount of compensation, and could have long-lasting consequences.

Solicitors in this field are well-versed in your case's legal and medical aspects. They can interpret medical records, understand procedural standards, and effectively communicate with medical experts. Experienced solicitors have handled numerous cases like yours and are familiar with the common issues and best strategies for pursuing claims.

The legal process can be complex and time-sensitive. A solicitor ensures that all necessary steps are taken promptly and correctly. Having a professional represent you means you are less likely to be overwhelmed by the legal process. They will advocate on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

During your initial consultation, consider asking the following questions to your solicitor:

  • Ask about their experience with similar cases and their success rate in pursuing medical negligence claims.

  • Enquire about the steps involved in pursuing your claim and how long they typically take.

  • Discuss their fee structure, including any 'no win, no fee' arrangements, and any other potential costs you might incur.

Being well-prepared for your consultation can help ensure that you get the most accurate and helpful advice. It also allows your solicitor to begin building a strong case on your behalf more quickly and efficiently.

Seek advice from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors

At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, our experts have dealt with many cases across different types of surgeries. We can guide you through the entire process and offer no win, no fee agreements in every case, ensuring you are at minimal financial risk when you decide to claim with us. To learn more, simply call us today on 0808 296 3266, or fill out an online contact form to arrange a time for us to return your call.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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