Any medical practitioner can make a genuine mistake and find themselves facing a medical negligence claim. In the vast majority of cases these are one-off events. However, there are some surgeons who have an unenviable track record of legal claims against them. In this short case study of a client who underwent a rhinoplasty procedure the cosmetic surgeon in the firing line was someone I had already successfully sued three times previously.
My client, a self-employed dentist, attended an appointment at a cosmetic surgery clinic in London to discuss reconstruction surgery to her nose, known as a rhinoplasty procedure, or 'nose job'. She met the surgeon who was to perform the rhinoplasty. He noted that she wanted a “Cheryl Cole type nose”. This account was disputed by our client who said the surgeon only suggested a minor change to her nose and it was this limited procedure that she agreed to.
Following the rhinoplasty operation my client was immediately unhappy with the outcome. She felt that the tip of her nose appeared large and bulbous. When she raised her concerns with the clinic she was assured the appearance was down to swelling and she was advised to wait a year after the surgery to assess the final outcome.
However, my client remained unhappy with the results of her cosmetic surgery. She therefore obtained a second opinion from one of the country’s leading cosmetic surgeons. The expert noted that her concerns were “primarily related to the excess nasal tip with projection off the bridge on profile and scar visibility”. He also noted that the nasal bridge was slightly wide with an inverted V deformity and that the nasal tip was moderately wide with slight asymmetry and a stronger depression of the nostril sulcus on the right. The columella was relatively wide on a basal view and the surgical scar was moderately visible. There was moderate bowing protrusion of the columella base with what was described as excessive lateral show. The nasal tip was also said to be over projected and relatively rounded.
She was understandably devasted to be told by the surgeon that she would need a cartilage graft from either the nasal septum or the rib to re-build the dorsum.
Because of the serious nature of the problems highlighted in the report my client decided to obtain advice from another cosmetic surgery expert. Unfortunately this confirmed her worst fears. The surgeon noted that she had “a typical appearance of over resection of the dorsal part of the nose with inverted V deformity … the tip is bulbous and the angle between [her] lip and columella is quite acute … there is also depression of each side of the nose. The columella is very wide and the scar is placed quite low in the wrong position. The alae are both asymmetrical in the flare and width”. The surgeon confirmed she would require a reversal rhinoplasty which would involve a cartilage graft to build up the dorsal part of the nose and to lengthen the tip to give a better appearance of an Indian nose.
She decided to seek legal advice from a lawyer specialising in cosmetic surgery cases. She therefore contacted me to ask about bringing a medical negligence claim. I reviewed her medical notes and the expert reports on a free of charge basis. I took the view that she had a good legal case and agreed to deal with the claim on a No Win - No Fee basis.
The claim was pursued on the grounds that the surgeon who performed the original rhinoplasty failed to obtain a clear understanding of the outcome our client was expecting and that he over resected the dorsum, creating an inverted V deformity. He also created obvious depressions, one either side of the nose, along with asymmetry of the alae and caused a bump in the nasal bridge. It was as a direct result of these problems that our client was required to undergo further surgery to her nose to remedy the surgeon’s errors and improve her nose both aesthetically and functionally.
Following a fiercly contested legal battle the surgeon’s legal representatives eventually entered into settlement negotiations. As a result of these negotiations between the parties agreement was finally reached for an out of court compensation settlement of £50,000.00, plus legal costs.