From 2015 to 2016, the number of people receiving the most popular cosmetic operations rose from 2% to 6%. These procedures are optional, but that doesn’t mean doctors are no longer responsible for protecting their patient, and some cosmetic surgeries are more dangerous than others. Whether it is the anesthesia being used to keep the patient unconscious during surgery, or how physically invasive the procedure itself is – each surgery comes with its unique set of risks. Doctors are required to explain all risks before an operation in order to gain informed consent from the patient. If you’re preparing to have one of these common procedures, here are the risk factors your doctor should make you aware of.
Breast Augmentation Risks
Breast augmentation surgery was the most common cosmetic procedure in 2016, with 290,467 surgeries. This procedure is meant to change the size and shape of the breasts. An important factor to consider is that the FDA has stated breast implants are not lifetime devices and the longer you have them, the higher your chances of needing additional surgeries or even removal. Prior to your procedure your doctor should explain this among all other associated risks to you, including:
- Infection, especially if you have chosen textured implants.
- Capsular contracture, which is the hardening of the breast around the implant
- Need for additional surgeries in order to remove, replace, or adjust implants
- Rupture in the outer shell of a silicone- or saline-filled implant
The cosmetic surgeon should also perform a mammogram or breast X-ray to establish any prior abnormalities and to get a preoperative image. As part of the consultation, elements of your procedure should be discussed, like: implant placement, incision site, local vs. general anesthesia, and post-operative care. These conversations are essential to be certain you and your care provider are on the same page.
Liposuction was the second most common procedure in 2016. People seek out this cosmetic surgery to get rid of excess fat, often around the thighs, hips, stomach, or buttocks. Though this procedure is usually not as invasive as other forms of cosmetic surgery, there are still many risks associated with it, including:
- Infection after liposuction sometimes goes undiagnosed in early stages.
- Damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and organs.
- Loosening of the skin.
- Need for additional surgeries to get rid of additional fat, fix loose skin or other postoperative complications
As with breast augmentation and all other surgeries, your doctor should explain all the possible risks to you before the procedure. A healthcare professional should have also made it clear from the beginning that this procedure is to get rid of excess fat that doesn’t respond to proper diet and exercise, not to replace healthy lifestyle habits. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has described the ideal candidate for this procedure as adults within 30% of their ideal weight, who are without prior conditions, and are nonsmokers.
This isn’t a guarantee, but it does give the patient a better chance of a successful outcome in comparison to those without these qualities. The doctor is responsible for knowing who is a good candidate for any procedure. They should also make the patient aware of any additional risks if they don’t meet the exact description.
Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty) Risks
In 2016, nose reshaping was the top third cosmetic procedure with 223,018 surgeries. This surgery changes the shape of your nose. Some may want their nose enlarged, shortened, or nasal cavities reduced. This procedure is also used to correct deviated septums, which impair breathing. Regardless if this surgery is strictly cosmetic or to improve breathing, there are still risks, including:
- Infection, especially if implants are used.
- Difficulty breathing from the reconstruction of the nasal pathways.
- Need for revision surgeries when the initial procedure’s results aren’t as desired.
- Nasal septal perforation, when a hole is punctured through the septum of the nose.
The possibilities of nosebleeds, numbness, and permanent nerve damage should also be discussed during initial consultations. It’s important to know some injuries that are most common of Rhinoplasty medical malpractice cases, like step deformity, nasal stenosis, and nerve damage. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has also described the ideal rhinoplasty candidate as someone who is generally healthy, doesn’t smoke, and whose facial growth is complete.
Protecting against risks during cosmetic surgery starts with finding the best surgeon possible to perform the operation. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, as well as from your health insurance provider (if this is a covered procedure). You can also double check board certifications on the American Board of Medical Specialties site. The second action is to document as much as possible before and after the procedure. Discuss any questions or concerning symptoms with your care provider right away.
If you or a loved one has undergone a cosmetic surgery and experienced a negative or harmful result that was due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation. The medical malpractice attorneys at Cline Farrell Christie & Lee want to help you get what you need to move forward in life with peace of mind. From fighting for you in court to helping you plan for every new challenge you may face, we are your advocates.