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Plastic Surgery Malpractice

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What Is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is a broad medical term most commonly associated with cosmetic surgery or physical enhancement for aesthetic purposes. However, the term actually includes many medical procedures that involve restructuring or reshaping body parts to return them to normal functioning. 

Plastic surgery generally does not always involve the use of plastic materials. Rather, the term “plastic” means to shape or mold, as in when bodily structures are reshaped through the surgical procedures. Some common types of plastic surgery procedures include:

  • Reconstructive plastic surgery: commonly used to restore functioning to the face or other areas of the body after an accident or to correct birth defects
  • Skin grafts: these are frequently used to close wounds from burns or other injuries
  • Cosmetic procedures: these include a whole host of operations, including augmentation/reduction of body parts, fluid injections, and fat reduction  

What Types of Injuries Can Occur with Plastic Surgeries? 

Plastic surgeries can be delicate procedures- they are not without their risks and side effects. While many plastic surgery operations have nearly been perfected over time, some processes are newer and are still subject to improvements. Some injuries that are commonly associated with plastic surgery are:
 
  • Injuries from mistake or error: these can occur if the operating physician or staff have rendered sub-standard care in the operation, for example, operating on the wrong bodily area, or failing to observe sanitation measures
  • Reopening of incisions: this can occur over time as the body adjusts to the newly remolded areas. Drastic weight loss or weight gain can contribute to re-openings
  • Leakages: implantation of synthetic substances such as breast implants or collagen injections can sometimes leak into adjacent areas
  • Complications with original injuries: Since reconstructive plastic surgery is commonly used to treat injuries, the procedures can sometimes result in complications during the healing process

If you are experiencing any symptoms of pain or discomfort in connection with a plastic surgery operation, you should contact a physician immediately. 

What Is Needed to Prove Plastic Surgery Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice in connection with plastic surgery is usually proven using a negligence theory. In order to prove negligence, the following elements must be proven:
 
  • The plastic surgeon owed a duty of care to the patient
  • The duty of care was breached by the surgeon
  • The patient was actually injured as a result of the negligent breach
  • The breach of duty was the cause of the patient’s injuries

Since plastic surgeons are considered to be medical specialists, it is usually assumed that they have a duty of care to practice according to the standards of the field of plastic surgery. Therefore, the most difficult element to prove in a plastic surgery malpractice suit is that of causation (that is, whether the surgeon’s acts actually caused the injuries). 

For example, plastic surgery procedures often involve several personnel, such as nurses, other doctors, and administrative staff. Also, plastic surgery injuries often do not manifest until much later after the procedure, sometimes many years later. For these two reasons, it can sometimes be difficult to prove who actually caused plastic surgery injuries.    

However, if your doctor was clearly negligent in their actions (such as operating on the wrong body part), you should contact an attorney for advice on how to recover your losses.

What Are the Remedies for Plastic Surgery Malpractice?

If you are able to prove negligence in a plastic surgery procedure, you may be entitled to recover losses in connection with your injuries. This may include medical expenses such as hospital bills, prescription medications, and further operations.

Also, depending on the severity of your case, you may also be able to recover other economic losses, such as lost wages due to the injuries, future medical costs, and damages for mental or emotional suffering. In very limited cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the claim involves malicious or criminal intent.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Plastic Surgery Malpractice?

Plastic surgery is sometimes a necessary part of treating various conditions, diseases, and injuries. However, if you have been further injured as a result of plastic surgery procedures, you may wish to speak with a personal injury for advice and counseling. An attorney may be able to assist you in recovering losses associated with the surgery. Also, if you wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, your attorney can provide you with representation in court. 
Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-19-2017 11:03 PM PST

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