The cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches has recently issued and served court proceedings against a consultant plastic surgeon on behalf of a client who developed rippled skin on her chest following a breast augmentation procedure.
The client wanted a breast augmentation procedure but was concerned that the natural tissue volume in the upper region of her breasts was thin, with the bone underneath being visible through her skin. Having researched the surgical options available, she opted to have implants that are inserted under the pectoral muscle (sub pectoral implants). She hoped that this method would achieve a natural look as she was concerned that there was insufficient tissue to cover implants if they were inserted in front of the muscle.
She had a consultation with the defendant consultant plastic surgeon who advised that the most suitable procedure would be to insert the implants in front of the muscle. When our client asked whether the thin tissue on her upper breasts would affect the cosmetic outcome of the operation, she was reassured that it would not and was only warned about the possibility of infection – which is a risk for all surgical procedures. She was not advised of any alternative procedures and was offered an appointment for the suggested procedure just three days after her consultation as an appointment had become available.
On the advice of the defendant surgeon, our client underwent the procedure but noticed a rippling of the skin in the upper region of her breasts over the following weeks. In a follow-up appointment with her consultant plastic surgeon, she was reassured that this would improve but this rippling became more apparent over time. She returned for a further follow-up consultation during which she said that she was very unhappy with the outcome of the procedure. At this point, her surgeon advised her that rippling was a known complication of the procedure. He explained that there was an alternative procedure involving splitting the pectoral muscle to insert the implant. Our client asked why this procedure had not been suggested to her as an alternative, particularly as it carried less risk of rippling and she had expressed her concerns about thin tissue on her upper breasts. She was not given an explanation.
Our client continues to suffer from rippling of the skin on her upper breasts which is particularly obvious when wearing low-cut clothes or swim wear and when she leans forward. Understandably, she finds this outcome very upsetting.
The Penningtons Manches team obtained supportive expert evidence from an independent consultant plastic surgeon, who confirmed that our client should have been advised of rippling as a possible result of the procedure and of the alternative procedure using a muscle-splitting technique. On this basis, our client cannot be said to have given informed consent. The defendant plastic surgeon denies the allegations and court proceedings have been issued and served.
Sarah Gubbins, an associate at Penningtons Manches LLP specialising in cosmetic surgery claims, commented: “This is a very distressing outcome for our client and, although nothing can change what she has been through, our independent expert has suggested some further cosmetic surgery options which may be able to improve the appearance of her breasts.
“These cases highlight the fact that, even when clients have done extensive research before seeing a plastic surgeon, the surgery does not always proceed as expected or provide the desired outcome. It is important that all prospective patients are warned of the risks and are given time to reflect on the surgeon’s advice before proceeding with the recommended treatment. Time gives people the opportunity to ask further questions, conduct more research or seek a second opinion. These all help to ensure they are fully informed of the risks and likely cosmetic outcome before undergoing a procedure.”