We have recently settled a claim for a client who suffered an injury to her lower eyelids from dermal filler injections. Our client was not warned that such an injury could occur and would not have proceeded with the procedure if she had been aware of this.
She attended a cosmetic surgery clinic in London in July 2011 for cosmetic injection of Botox to her forehead, her frown lines and her periorbital lines. She was pleased with the results and contacted the clinic later in the year to enquire about further treatment. She was advised that the clinic was running a special offer on a rejuvenation treatment package, consisting of botulinum toxin injections, dermal filler injections and micro dermabrasion.
Our client, who is an actress, was conscious of the lines around her mouth and thought the dermal fillers could be used to improve their appearance. She agreed to purchase the package and subsequently attended the clinic for treatment. The surgeon arrived late for the appointment, ushered our client into the treatment room and asked her to lie straight on the treatment bed. While he seemed rushed, our client managed to explain that she wanted a cosmetic improvement in the appearance of the lines around her mouth.
The surgeon examined our client and suggested she should have some treatment to her eye sockets and this in turn would improve the lines around her mouth. He took unflattering photographs on his mobile to encourage her. She had never considered treatment in this area but was influenced by the surgeon and the unflattering photos. The surgeon did not explain what the treatment would involve or that it could cause persistent swelling and lumpiness in that area, which could last for a period of up to 12 months. Instead, he proceeded to treatment straightaway and then asked our client to sign the consent form after the procedure.
Unfortunately, our client developed severe swelling, bruising and lumpiness around her lower eyelids/tear troughs, which remained for a significant period. We were instructed to investigate a claim against the surgeon on the basis that he had failed to advise our client of the risks of the procedure. We obtained evidence from an independent expert who advised that while what had happened was a recognised risk, our client should have been made aware of this risk and the failure to do so represented a breach of duty. Our client was quite clear in her evidence that if she had been advised of the risk of injury, she would not have had treatment in this area.
The surgeon disputed that our client had not consented to the treatment and claimed that he had told her about the risk of injury. However, this advice was not documented in the medical records so it was very much the surgeon’s word against our client’s. Despite denying the claim throughout and it becoming necessary for us to issue court proceedings, the surgeon finally saw sense and we managed to negotiate a good settlement for the injuries our client sustained.