Penningtons’ clinical negligence team is representing a young female client who underwent a breast lift (mastopexy) as a private patient to improve her figure and boost her self-confidence. Sadly, it did not go well and she has regretted having the surgery as, instead of boosting her confidence, it has caused her considerable distress and disappointment.
The woman specifically wanted to rectify what she felt were sagging breasts and discussed this with her surgeon. She showed him where she would ideally like her breasts to sit and her nipples to be positioned. Her surgeon was confident that he could help and that she would be pleased with the results from surgery. He was positive and reassuring and there was very little discussion of the risks of surgery. Overall, the consultation lasted less than 15 minutes.
However, once the post-operative swelling had settled, Penningtons’ client was very disappointed with the result. Her nipples had not been positioned where she asked, she felt that her breasts were still too low and, to her shock, her areolae had been cut very large and looked very unnatural to her. She was quite distraught by what she saw as it was far from what she had hoped for. The surgeon seemed to agree that the result was poor and offered very quickly to perform a revision procedure.
That surgical procedure took place under just a local anaesthetic in a consulting room rather than by general anaesthetic as the mastopexy had been. This was extremely frightening for the patient particularly as she had not been prepared for it. She caught a glimpse of her breast cut open and was traumatised by this. Following this procedure, she suffered a very difficult recovery with the stitching around her nipples breaking down causing her great anxiety and distress. She has sought hospital treatment but has been left with scarring which is devastating as her objective was for a cosmetic improvement.
Alison Johnson, senior associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons, says: “Sadly, this is typical of both the enquiries we receive and the clients we represent with cosmetic surgery claims. We hear time and time again about how reassuring the surgeon was during the pre-operative consultation and how little discussion there was of the risk that surgery might not go well. Patients seeking cosmetic surgery are looking to boost their self-esteem and are very focused on the result they would like to achieve. They are naturally keen to go ahead but do need clear information about the risks associated with any particular procedure. As there will be a natural tendency to underplay those risks, the surgeon has a duty to ensure that the risks are properly explained and discussed but this is not always the case. We hope that the Keogh report will go some way to rectifying that.”
Penningtons is obtaining independent evidence for the young woman in order to advise her of the prospects of succeeding with a claim for damages.