What Can Go Wrong With Liposuction And Tummy Tuck Procedures

What Can Go Wrong With Liposuction And Tummy Tuck Procedures?

According to the latest annual audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, over 31,000 cosmetic procedures were carried out in the UK in 2022. This included 3,413 tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) and 3,002 liposuction procedures. The demand for such procedures is still extremely high, with the number of abdominoplasties increasing 129% last year compared to 2021, and liposuctions rising 135%. If you are one of the many thousands considering a ‘lipo’ or a tummy tuck in the coming months, it is important that you are informed, understand the risks associated, and choose a skilled and experienced cosmetic surgeon backed up with excellent aftercare. In this article, we will discuss what can go wrong with tummy tuck and liposuction procedures and outline some of the key questions you should ask your prospective surgeon before you proceed.

What can go wrong with liposuction and tummy tuck procedures?

It is common to experience certain side effects from liposuction and tummy tuck operations; for example, bruising, swelling, discomfort, inflammation, and minor scarring. However, side effects are completely different to complications resulting from medical negligence.

You may have a claim for clinical negligence if you experience the following:

  • Constant pain.
  • Fluid gathered around the wound.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Your bellybutton is too high or low.

Normal side effects following liposuction or tummy tucks improve throughout the recovery period. If your symptoms worsen or persist beyond the normal expected recovery period (3 – 6 weeks), you may be able to bring a claim for clinical negligence.

What questions should I ask a liposuction or tummy tuck cosmetic surgeon?

While liposuction and tummy tucks are extremely common in the UK, do not let the word ‘cosmetic’ mislead you into thinking such procedures are not major operations.

Before proceeding with your liposuction or tummy tuck procedure, it is essential that you do your homework. We recommend arranging a face-to-face consultation with at least three cosmetic surgeons before making a final decision about whether you want to have surgery and if so, which procedure to have and which surgeon to use. Ultimately, you want to be assured that your procedure is suitable for needs, your expectations are realistic, your surgeon is experienced, you understand the risks and side effects, and that the aftercare is of a high standard. In particular, we recommend asking the following questions:

1) Will I meet the cosmetic surgeon in my initial consultation?

By meeting each surgeon personally and having the opportunity to ask them questions face to face about their experience and how they will go about your procedure, you can gather more information to reassure yourself.

2) What are your qualifications and which professional organisations do you belong to?

We recommend checking that the surgeon is on the General Medical Council (GMC) register as a specialist in plastic surgery. Do not just assume this is the case. Also check to see if they are a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons with a speciality in Plastic Surgery – if so, they will have the letters FRCS (Plast) after their name. We also advise asking which professional cosmetic surgery organisations they belong to (e.g., the British Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (BAPRAS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)). If possible, also check that the anaesthetist that will look after you is on the GMC register.

3) Is liposuction or a tummy tuck procedure suitable for me?

This is your chance to verify that the procedure you are considering is both safe and will be effective for you given your expectations and background health. Will they check your medical records and conduct checks to ensure that you are medically safe for surgery?

4) What are the risks associated with liposuction or a tummy tuck procedure and what will you do to prevent or manage any complications?

Do not be afraid to ask your prospective surgeon what can go wrong and how they would handle such problems, either during or post-surgery. Make sure you are fully assured that they have the experience to prevent harm to you at any stage. If something does go wrong, who pays for any additional treatment or surgery and is insurance provided in the event of serious complications?

5) What will happen during my recovery?

Make sure you understand what will happen following your surgery. Will you need physiotherapy? How will your pain be controlled? When can you expect to go home? And what will you be able to do/not do after your surgery?

Can I bring a claim for liposuction or tummy tuck clinical negligence?

To have the grounds to bring a cosmetic surgery claim, the answer to all the following three questions must be ‘yes’:

1. Were you owed a duty of care by your cosmetic surgeon (or other medical persons treating you)? – Remember, all healthcare professionals have a duty of care to protect their patients from harm where it is “reasonably foreseeable.” This includes your surgeon and any medical professional who assumed responsibility for your medical care (e.g., nurses).

2. Did they breach their duty of care? – i.e. Did standard of care provided by the medical professional fall below that expected of a reasonably competent cosmetic surgeon?

3. Did you suffer harm because of the breach? – It must be proven that the mistake made by the medical practitioner caused harm to you.

It is important to note that under the Limitation Act 1980, you have three years from the date of the injury or date of knowledge of the injury, whichever comes later in which to bring a claim. However, if more than three years have passed, the Court has the discretion to allow out-of-time claims to proceed, so it is important to contact a Medical Negligence Solicitor as soon as possible.

At Nicholson Jones Sutton Solicitors, we understand the various tests that must be applied when assessing a cosmetic negligence claim. We can review the circumstances of your case, determine if you have grounds for a claim and manage your claim on your behalf.

To advise and represent you, we will need the following information:

  • Your past medical history (we will need to see your GP and hospital records once we have agreed to help you).
  • Whether your condition/symptoms will affect your life in the future.
  • Any medical or other expenses or therapy costs you have paid out for or still need to pay for.
  • Whether you have raised your concerns with the health professional already and if so what they have said.
  • Details of the therapist so that we can locate them and check whether they have insurance or the assets to meet any compensation that you are entitled to.
  • Information relating to how you paid for your treatment.
  • Whether you have any previous cosmetic procedures in the last 10 years.

Our team has decades of combined experience in successfully advising and representing clients in cosmetic surgery negligence cases. We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Call us on 01 625 667166 to discuss your claim.


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