As the popularity of cosmetic surgery and non-surgical procedures continues to rise, so too do the number of complaints and the volume of incidents involving risky practices and untrained or inexperienced practitioners.
There is also a distinct lack of clarity within the aesthetic industry about what procedures are subject to regulation, which leaves patients vulnerable and often unaware of their legal rights in the event that something does go wrong with their treatment.
At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we are committed to helping those who are planning to undergo cosmetic surgery - or who have already undergone treatment - to understand the risks of cosmetic surgery gone wrong, while providing information on your legal rights.
Regulation statuses for cosmetic procedures
Invasive, or surgical, cosmetic procedures that involve instruments or equipment being inserted into the body are regulated, these include:
- Breast surgery
- Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping)
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
- Brow lift
- Eyelid surgery
- Rhytidectomy (facelift)
- Refractive eye surgery
- Lens implanted surgery
Non-surgical (non-invasive) cosmetic procedures that are not currently regulated:
- Dermal fillers
- Botox injections
- Facial peels
- Lip implants and fillers
- Chemical peels
- Non-medical laser treatments, eg. hair removal
What should I do if my cosmetic surgery has gone wrong?
If something has gone wrong, your first steps should be to make a complaint to the hospital or clinic where you had your procedure, as they may be able to resolve your complaint. The surgeon who performed your procedure, and the hospital where the procedure took place, should be open and honest with you if something does not go according to plan - as can happen with any surgical procedure.
If the matter is not settled to your satisfaction, and it relates to the surgeon who performed the procedure, contact the General Medical Council (GMC).
If your complaint is to do with the hospital, the Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS) may be able to help you if the hospital you had your surgery at is registered with ISCAS.
Although the CQC does not investigate complaints from individuals, if you had surgery in England, and have a concern about the service you received, you can share it with the CQC. This information can help the CQC to better monitor services and plan their inspections, enabling them to protect others from going through the same experience.
What to do if your non-surgical cosmetic procedure has gone wrong
If your procedure has gone wrong, your rights are as follows:
In the first instance, you should complain to the procedure provider who may be able to resolve your issue. If your initial complaint to the provider hasn’t worked, you could turn to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), where an independent person conciliates or mediates between yourself and the provider in order to find a resolution. ADR can help with service provision problems (not medical negligence cases). Clinics are now required to signpost clients towards the ADR service they use, though many have not, as yet, complied with this. Visit www.cosmeticredress.co.uk for more information.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you may be able to get a refund if you feel the service you have paid for was misrepresented from the outset, provided you paid using your credit card for a procedure costing between £100 and £30,000. However, this does not apply if you are simply unhappy with the end result.
To read our report, Cosmetic Surgery - knowing your rights if something goes wrong, click here.