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Compensation For Negligent Facelift Surgery
A facelift (rhytidectomy) is the 3rd most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the UK, and one which is experiencing especially strong growth among men (a 23% rise between 2008 and 2009). The intention of facelift surgery is to reverse the natural effects of ageing by tightening the skin and facial muscles, thereby reducing wrinkles and achieving a more youthful appearance. The procedure involves the cutting away of skin from the face, followed by the removal of excess fat, loose skin, and the tightening of soft tissues. Skin is then redraped, while the incisions are closed and secured with sutures.
A full facelift normally lasts between 3 and 4 hours, and is a highly skilled procedure, with different surgeons using different methods to achieve their results. This makes it especially important for patients to research and choose their cosmetic surgeon with the utmost care, as botched operations can have devastating physical and psychological consequences. Fully trained surgeons will be on the Specialist Register in Plastic Surgery at the General Medical Council, and will follow the industry regulations laid down by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). The unfortunate situation in the UK is that cosmetic clinics and surgeons are not legally obliged to register with these bodies. The result of this is that a high percentage of cosmetic surgery providers in the UK lack either the qualifications, experience or clinical equipment to carry out complex procedures such as facelifts.
Facelift Surgery Risks
Ever-increasing competition in the UK's cosmetic surgery sector leads many clinics to make unrealistic claims as to what surgery can achieve for an individual. Lack of regulation also provides an incentive for them to ignore proper pre-operative and post-operative standards of care. Patients should be offered an extensive medical consultation with their surgeon at least two weeks prior to surgery being performed. This will determine whether any pre-existing medical conditions or medications may have a detrimental effect on an operation and its results. Surveys show that smokers for example are 1500% more likely to experience complications following surgery, while regular medications such as aspirin and contraceptives can also negatively effect the outcome. Patients may also have a pre-existing allergy to anaesthetic or medications used during and after surgery. A competent surgeon should provide a patient with comprehensive instructions about caring for their wounds before and after surgery, as well as fully explaining the potential risks involved in an operation. Only then can a prospective patients make a fully informed decision as to whether facelift surgery is the right option for them.
Facelift Surgery Operations - Surgical Errors
Facelift surgery has a generally high success rate, though as with all types of invasive surgery there are a variety of potential complications. The most common of these is when the surgeon fails to achieve the desired result, and where a patient is left with some distressing level of deformity. This may be an asymmetrical facial appearance, uneven skin texture, or prominent scarring, any of which may require further surgery to correct. A surgeon may also damage nerves which control muscles in the face, potentially resulting in loss of sensation and loss of function. Normally facial nerves will regenerate over a period of months, though botched operations of this kind can cause permanent numbness and loss of movement. Surgical wounds may become infected by bacteria either during surgery (if an operation is performed in unhygienic surroundings for example), or afterwards if a patient is not properly instructed in post-operative care. Most infections can be effectively dealt with by antibiotics. Another surgical risk involves the accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin (hematoma and seroma respectively). This may occur either during surgery or in the days following an operation. Both blood and fluid can be drained with syringes, and patients may need to return for further surgery in this instance. Blood clots also pose a threat to patients when blood pressure falls due to the effect of anaesthesia. This may cause deep vein thrombosis in the legs, or pulmonary embolism if a blood clot moves to the lungs. A sharp fall in blood pressure in itself may induce cardiac arrest. These rare but potentially fatal complications emphasise the need for clinics to have a resuscitation team on hand during surgery.
Legal Rights Of Facelift Surgery Patients
Facelift surgery patients have certain basic legal rights related to the service standards they should expect which cannot be signed away by a clinic's standard consent form. The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 requires that professional services are carried out with reasonable care and skill. Cosmetic clinics should conduct comprehensive medical consultations with patients, provide them with extensive information regarding potential risks, and allow them a 2 week 'cooling off' period to consider whether they should proceed with surgery. Surgeons may be considered negligent if they substantively fail to achieve the aesthetic effect intended by the patient, or if they have given the latter unrealistic expectations of what surgery will achieve. Successful compensation claims will lead to damages being awarded for pain and suffering, both physical and mental, as well as a separate award of 'special' damages to cover the financial repercussions of the injury. Where mistakes have been made and injuries have resulted from facelift surgery, patients are advised to seek specialist legal advice from a firm like ourselves, who have many years of experience with all types of cosmetic surgery compensation claims.
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