Medical malpractice claims against plastic surgeons can involve a variety of procedures. Patients who undergo breast implants, breast reduction, liposuction or facelifts may have to consider legal action if the medical professional they trusted caused severe scarring, infection, disease, malformation, tissue damage or other unexpected and often unexplained results. People who sought vast improvements in their personal appearance may face a future of embarrassment, pain, discomfort, medical complications and corrective surgeries. But imagine the combined effect of undergoing multiple procedures over a short period, and then having to deal with multiple failures.

To many people, the infamous Jocelyn “Cat Woman” Wildenstein is the poster child for surgical alteration that has gone too far. But the recent experience of a British flight attendant who won a reality TV radical makeover reveals the extremes to which unchecked cosmetic surgeons can go.

In Pursuit of Beauty, a Life Drastically Altered

When Nicola Stratton was chosen by “Brand New You,” an extreme makeover show on British television, she was feeling a deep need to improve her appearance for her husband, who apparently did not share her opinion. She soon was flown to Los Angeles, where she underwent 30 hours of cosmetic surgery in only six weeks. Surgeons modified her brow, ears and nose, and augmented her breasts. She received an eye lift, as well as liposuction on her chin, jaw, stomach, back and hips. She underwent laser eye surgery and extensive dental work. All of these alterations were worth a quarter of a million dollars at the posh L.A. clinic.

She was initially elated with the changes, but then things began to go wrong. A saline breast implant ruptured, and she learned she would have to pay her own way back to California and handle her own hospital fees. Both breasts were updated with silicone implants. Then one of those had to be replaced because of a buildup of scar tissue. Just as important, her transformation exacted a personal toll: Stratton and her husband divorced, then she left the travel industry to work in a prison.

Stratton was rueful when interviewed by the Daily Mail, a London tabloid: “It’s a cautionary tale. People going in for surgery on these TV programs need to check the small print very carefully … Now I know it was too good to be true.”

Holding Plastic Surgeons to the Highest Standards of Practice

Physicians should have frank discussions with patients who are considering cosmetic surgery and disclose all of the risks and implications. In the event that things go drastically wrong, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can share insights about a patient’s legal options and discuss their prospects for recovering damages.