As the growing trend for cosmetic surgery continues, liposuction (the removal of unwanted body fat) is one of the more popular procedures. As with any cosmetic procedure there may be various risks involved that should be explained beforehand, but if you’ve suffered an injury due to negligence from a liposuction procedure you could be entitled to lodge a liposuction claim for compensation.
What Is Liposuction?
In simple terms, liposuction is the removal of body fat which is sucked out of a tube that is inserted into the patient’s body. It is not recommended as a weight loss substitute and for those who are overweight it can sometimes leave unsightly flaps of skin. Liposuction is said to work best with those who are of average weight with firm/elastic skin but who want to lose elements of fat in different parts of their body. The liposuction procedure is commonly carried out on various areas of the body including the hips, buttocks, thighs, tummy and upper arms. Effectively, where there is deemed to be excess fat it is likely that liposuction will be an option for patients.
Different Techniques For Fat Removal
While the liposuction procedure itself is the removal of fat through a cannula tube, it can be carried out in a variety of different ways. The most common method is to cut tiny slits in the skin in which to insert the tube and suck out the fat with a powerful vacuum machine. The cuts are then simply sewn up after the procedure is finished and should heal relatively quickly. Some liposuction surgeons will inject the area in question with various solutions which assist with the removal of fat while others might use ultrasound to break down the fat content prior to removal.
Although liposuction is quite a common procedure the insertion of a foreign body into a human body still brings with it an array of potential risks aside from the procedure itself. However, it is the role of the liposuction surgeon to make the patient aware of potential risks and side effects and manage their expectations.
Potential Risks And Complications With Liposuction
Any surgical procedure brings with it an array of inherent risks and potential complications and liposuction is no different. If you have suffered unnecessary injuries you could have a liposuction claim for compensation. A number of potential risks and complications with liposuction procedures include:
- Scarring – where small incisions are made to accommodate the suction tube there is the chance of complications. In most cases the scars will turn red, then purple and fade over a 12 to 18 month period. On occasion, they may become thicker, red or painful and this could lead to additional corrective surgery.
- Friction burns – the movement of the suction tube, used to dislodge fat prior to suction, can on occasion create friction burns on the skin. In most cases this will be a minor irritation which will disappear relatively quickly but there may well be complications such as infection.
- Bruising and bleeding – the process of liposuction is fairly basic and can on occasion lead to bruising and bleeding post procedure. In most cases this discomfort will be relatively short lived although certain medicines may need to be avoided to reduce the risk of further bleeding.
- Seroma – this is a situation where fluid can collect in the area in which the liposuction has been performed. If this fluid does not disburse then it may be removed using needles through the skin or an operation.
- Infection and swelling – surprisingly, infections and swelling are relatively rare when it comes to liposuction although certain areas of the body can be more prone than others. The inside of the knee and the upper thigh are two areas where infection and swelling can emerge but this should be relatively easy to treat with antibiotics. In some cases you may see the appearance of thin veins in the procedure area.
- Asymmetry – during some procedures it can be difficult to remove equal amounts of fat in a large area. This can create asymmetry where the contours of the body change as a consequence of the different fat content. In serious cases of asymmetry fat can be injected into areas to smooth out the irregularities or more liposuction might be the answer.
- Change in sensation – unfortunately, some liposuction procedures can lead to an increase or decrease in sensation in the area in which the fat was removed. In most cases this is temporary but there have been instances of permanently reduced sensation.
- Changes to the colour of skin – compression garments and bleeding under the skin can in some circumstances cause a permanent change in skin colour.
- Damage to body organs – it is extremely rare but there have been occasions where nerves, blood vessels, muscles and even organs such as the bowel have been damaged by liposuction. In many cases the damage is temporary but it can be permanent.
- Body changes over time – as your body ages it may become evident that the area in which you had liposuction looks different from the rest of your body. This can occur as consequence of pregnancy, other types of surgery or an increase in body weight.
- Allergic reaction – there have been instances where patients have encountered an allergic reaction to the solution, stitches or even the tape used to protect cuts. This is something which should be covered with your surgeon prior to the procedure.
- Reaction to the anaesthetic – while rare, some people may experience a negative reaction to the anaesthetic which can bring on chest infections, blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and in some circumstances death.
As we can see there are a variety of potential complications and risks associated with liposuction. However, these should all be discussed with the liposuction surgeon prior to any procedure being undertaken. It is the legal obligation of the surgeons/cosmetic surgery company to ensure that patients are fully aware of the pros and cons of any liposuction procedure. Negligence with regards to this legal obligation very often forms the basis of liposuction and other cosmetic surgery compensation claims.
Before we go any further it is also worth noting that if the claimant was made aware of the risks and potential side-effects prior to the procedure and the procedure was carried out in a professional and correct manner then effectively all legal obligations will likely have been fulfilled. If the patient was in some way disappointed with the result of the liposuction procedure they would not necessarily have grounds to make a liposuction negligence claim.
Evidence In Liposuction Compensation Claims
Prior to gathering any evidence for a liposuction compensation claim it is imperative that if additional treatment is required it is obtained as soon as possible. In some cases this can be potentially life-saving surgery or simply a further procedure to correct earlier mistakes. This not only ensures that any potential health risks are minimised but will result in an update in your medical records which can support a liposuction claim for negligence. There will be instances where the claimant is not in a position to gather additional evidence although this task can be carried out by a friend, colleague or family member.
Additional evidence can include photographs pre and post the liposuction procedure, details of any post-operative examination by an independent medical party, witness statements and details of any similar incidents the surgeon/cosmetic surgery company has been involved in. At the earliest opportunity it is also advisable to write down a record of events covering the pre-procedure and post-procedure period. This will include initial meetings, warnings about complications and side effects of liposuction, procedure goals as well as post-operative care and any issues which arise such as infection/medical conditions.
There is a general three-year time constraint during which the claimant can lodge a liposuction claim for compensation as a consequence of complications post a liposuction procedure. If a medical condition/injury is diagnosed further down the line but directly related to the earlier procedure then the three-year window of opportunity will begin at the point of diagnosis.
Approaching A Personal Injury Solicitor
If you haven’t already sought legal advice about a potential liposuction claim you should find a personal injury solicitor who can give you their expert opinion and the correct advice. Even if you don’t want to use the services a solicitor can provide many still provide an initial consultation free of charge so there’s nothing to lose.
Should a solicitor agree to take on your claim (most likely in the form of a No Win No Fee agreement) then it should be noted that in any compensation claim related to procedure/surgical negligence most personal injury solicitors would request an additional medical examination by an independent third party. This can in most circumstances be arranged in your own local area. This will clarify any problems, infections, medical issues and treatment required. This, together with all of the evidence collated by the claimant and solicitor, can create a very strong case for medical negligence.
Lodging A Liposuction Claim
Copies of all evidence, witness statements, photographs and any other relevant information will be forwarded to the courts together with details of the amount of compensation the claimant is seeking. All of this information will also be made available to the defendant. In liposuction claims cases where negligence is fairly evident the defendant may well seek an out-of-court settlement. This will allow them to limit their legal costs going forward, ensure that the victim receives their liposuction compensation as soon as possible and bring to an end what can be difficult experience for all parties.
There may well be cases where the defendant refuses any degree of negligence or perhaps there is more than just one potentially negligent party. In these situations it would be down to the judge to make a ruling on negligence, liability and ultimately the level of any liposuction compensation awarded.
Different Elements Of Compensation In Liposuction Claims
There are basically two different types of compensation for liposuction negligence available to claimants that are known as general damages and special damages. In liposuction claims general damages are simply financial compensation for the claimant which covers an array of issues such as:
- Life changing injuries
- Mental trauma
- Pain and suffering
There is a degree of variation/discretion available to the courts for general damages which will allow them to reflect the individual circumstances of each case when arriving at the final compensation figure.
The situation with special damages as compared to general damages in liposuction claims is slightly different because they are simply financial redress for expenses incurred as a consequence of the botched liposuction procedure and potential future funding requirements. Specific issues covered include:
- Loss of income because of the injury
- Future loss of income
- Medical costs
- Future medical costs
- Alterations to the claimants home
- Additional transportation costs
When it comes to special damages there isn’t any variation/discretion in the compensation as it is simply reimbursement of costs incurred and funds to cover future requirements.
If you think a liposuction surgeon or other medical professional has been negligent before, during or after your treatment which has led to an injury please contact us today for a free consultation with a solicitor to discuss and potential liposuction claim for compensation.