According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 18.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2019 in the U.S., inclusive of surgical procedures and cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures. With a total price tag of $16.7 billion, cosmetic surgery clients expect satisfactory results. 

Judging from the ever-growing popularity of cosmetic surgery, there are many satisfied customers. From 2000 to 2019, breast augmentation saw an increase of 41%, buttock lifts increased 228%, and upper arm lifts increased a whopping 5,318%. 

Cosmetic Surgical Procedures

In 2019, over 1.8 million cosmetic surgical procedures were performed in the U.S. Of those, the top five most popular were: 

  • Breast augmentation
  • Liposuction
  • Blepharoplasty (Eyelid surgery)
  • Nose reshaping
  • Facelift

Silicone implants made up the vast majority of breast augmentations at 85% and saline implants were used 15% of the time. 

Some of the most popular surgeries are also the most commonly litigated. In an analysis of medical malpractice cases involving cosmetic surgery, studies have shown that the most commonly litigated procedures involve:

  • Breast augmentation (34.4% of cases)
  • Liposuction (18.3% of cases)
  • Body contouring (14.0% of cases)

The analysis showed that cases involving body contouring were more likely to result in favor of the doctor. On the other hand, victims of botched breast augmentations were more likely to win an award against a doctor whose negligence caused them a deformity.

Another procedure that’s growing in popularity and also seeing increasing medical malpractice claims: blepharoplasty. This facial rejuvenation procedure was performed over 211,000 times in the U.S. in 2019. Over half of the patients receiving it were age 55 or older.

Minimally-Invasive Cosmetic Procedures

It’s not only cosmetic surgery that’s increasing. Use of minimally-invasive procedures like Botox injections, soft tissue lip- and eyebrow-fillers, and chemical peels have increased as well. 

There may be circumstances under which minimally-invasive procedures are conducted by non-medical license holders. In these cases, a state’s medical malpractice laws may not apply. Always reach out to an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to learn about your legal rights and potential remedies. 

How Common Is Medical Malpractice in Cosmetic Surgery?

When results are as expected, patients may go on to live beautiful, happy lives. Unfortunately, when plastic surgery goes wrong, it’s not easy for a patient to get back the money they deserve. Medical malpractice claims can be some of the most difficult legal claims to establish and juries can be unsympathetic when there’s elective cosmetic surgery at issue. 

Claims of medical malpractice in cosmetic surgery can be based on the same grounds as medical malpractice claims in other areas of medicine. For example: 

  • Lack of informed consent
  • Post-operative infections
  • Complications from anesthesia
  • Surgery on the wrong body part

Procedures performed by unlicensed, inexperienced, or unskilled surgeons also lead to medical malpractice claims. Negligence, including leaving surgical tools in body cavities, is a common basis for malpractice claims. 

Injuries that occur in the context of cosmetic surgeries can be more visible than injuries from other types of medical malpractice. A patient who suffers nerve damage on their face is more likely to have a stronger claim for emotional distress than a patient whose nerve damage impacts less visible parts of their body. 

Is Medical Malpractice More Difficult To Prove in Cosmetic Surgery Cases?

Plastic surgeons are at a fairly high risk of medical malpractice claims. Each year, 13% of plastic surgeons face medical malpractice claims. 

Some data show that plastic surgeons are more likely to defeat medical malpractice claims than their victims are to win. But the jury awards for successful claimants were over $1 million.

The problems unique to cosmetic surgery cases arise in establishing the standard of care and jury bias. Since cosmetic surgery is a specialty, the type of expert witness needed to establish the medical standard of care is harder to find. Cases with expert testimony at trial are significantly more likely to succeed, overall, than cases without expert testimony. 

The issue of jury bias seems to arise based on the claim for malpractice and the type of damages claimed. Within all breast augmentation surgery claims, cases with allegations of negligent misrepresentation had nearly twice the likelihood of being resolved in favor of the injured victim. Likewise, cases where the plaintiff claimed pain or emotional distress are more likely to be resolved in favor of the injured victim as well. 

If you underwent a cosmetic surgery or cosmetic minimally-invasive procedure that was botched, you may have a right to recover compensation. You will need a medical expert and a skilled attorney to give yourself the best opportunity for success. Contact a personal injury attorney today to learn about your legal rights.