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As with any surgical intervention, a facelift comes with its set of risks - one of which is skin necrosis, a serious condition that occurs when the blood supply to the skin is insufficient, causing tissue death. While such complications can sometimes be part of the inherent risk of surgery, there are instances where they may result from inadequate care or surgical missteps.
Here, we navigate the delicate lines between expected surgical risks and the consequences of medical negligence.
Facelift surgery, known medically as a rhytidectomy, is a procedure that gives a more youthful appearance to the face. It typically involves the removal of excess facial skin, with or without the tightening of underlying tissues, and is often accompanied by the redraping of the skin on the patient's face and neck. This procedure is considered by many as a means to recapture the facial vigour of their younger years.
The process of undergoing a facelift usually commences with a thorough consultation with a cosmetic surgeon. During this stage, the surgeon will discuss the patient's goals, evaluate their skin’s elasticity, and go over the medical history to ensure suitability for the surgery. It's paramount for the patient to find a qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeon, one who is often board-certified and comes with a portfolio of successful procedures.
A typical facelift surgery may last several hours and is often performed under general anaesthesia or sedation. Post-operative care is vital and involves following the surgeon's instructions meticulously to ensure the best results and mitigate potential complications. It's not uncommon for patients to experience some degree of facial swelling and bruising as their body embarks on the healing process.
Skin necrosis, while not a common occurrence, is a potential complication that can arise after facelift surgery. It refers to the death of skin cells due to a loss of blood supply. Without the necessary blood flow, the affected skin does not receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive, leading to tissue damage and cell death. The signs of skin necrosis can include changes in skin colour to dark brown or black, a hard texture, and in some cases, the separation of the dead skin.
The reasons for skin necrosis following a facelift can be:
Surgical technique used
The tension on the wound after surgery
The patient's smoking history, which can impair blood flow
Underlying health conditions like diabetes or vascular diseases can increase the risk
It's crucial to understand that while facelift surgery is carried out to improve aesthetic appeal, the nature of the procedure requires manipulation of skin and tissues, which inherently carries some risk.
Facial swelling is a standard post-operative experience that typically resolves as the healing process progresses. However, it's imperative to distinguish between normal swelling and symptoms that might indicate complications like skin necrosis. Patients are advised to observe their recovery closely and follow up with their cosmetic surgeon should they have concerns about their healing, especially if they notice any unusual changes in their skin condition.
Not every facelift surgery complication is indicative of negligence. There is an acknowledged spectrum of risks associated with any medical procedure, and facelifts are no exception. However, there is a critical distinction between anticipated post-operative challenges and those that stem from negligent facelift surgery.
Negligence in this context is defined as the failure to take proper care in performing the surgery, which then leads to harm. This could manifest through various lapses, such as an inadequate preoperative assessment where the surgeon does not properly evaluate the patient's medical history or current health state. Similarly, if the surgical technique is bad, or post-operative care guidelines are not correctly established or followed, these could also be grounds for negligence.
For instance, a negligent act could be using excessive tension when closing the incision, which might compromise blood flow and increase the risk of skin necrosis. It might also include failing to recognise and promptly address post-operative complications that lead to further harm. Essentially, negligent facelift surgery refers to a breach of the duty of care that a cosmetic surgeon owes to their patient – a breach that a competent professional would not have committed under similar circumstances.
Determining negligence requires a thorough investigation into whether the standard of care was met. If a complication such as skin necrosis arises and is deemed to have resulted from actions that fell below the accepted medical standards, then it could signal negligence. To be eligible for a legal claim, it must be shown that the negligence directly caused the complication, which could have been avoided with proper care.
If you suspect that your facelift surgery complications are the result of negligent care, you may be able to claim compensation. Navigating this legal process can be complex, but understanding the steps can help in seeking finances for the harm suffered.
The initial phase of making a facelift compensation claim involves getting professional legal advice. A solicitor specialising in facelift compensation claims will typically offer an initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. During this time, they will assess the viability of your claim based on the evidence available and the likelihood that medical negligence can be proven.
Gathering evidence is a pivotal part of this process. This includes medical records, photographs of the complications, expert opinions and an account of any additional treatments that were required as a result of the complication. You will also need to provide documentation showing the impact of the complication on your life, both physically and emotionally.
Once evidence is compiled, the claim will be formally presented to the party at fault, which in this case would be the cosmetic surgeon or the clinic where the surgery was performed. If negligence is acknowledged, then compensation might be negotiated outside of court. However, if there is a dispute over the claim, it may proceed to trial, where a judge will decide on the matter.
The time it takes to resolve a facelift compensation claim varies widely. It is dependent on the specifics of the case, the extent of the complications, and the willingness of the negligent party to settle. Moreover, compensation amounts will differ based on the severity of the negligence and the subsequent impact on the patient’s health and wellbeing.
If you have experienced necrosis following a facelift and think it’s the result of negligence, talk to our expert cosmetic surgery negligence team today. Call 0808 159 9660 or request a callback by completing the contact form.