7 Sep 2016

How to recover from botched Cosmetic Surgery

Manage your emotions

Bad results from cosmetic surgery can trigger emotions that are often counter-productive to your recovery. You might blame yourself and be too ashamed to seek help. You might be angry at your surgeon and unable to face them, or may take out your frustration in ways (e.g. threatening a lawsuit, negative on-line reviews, acting-out in the reception area) that destroy your relationship with the practice. Although perhaps justifiable, raging at your surgeon will destroy your ‘therapeutic relationship’, and may require you to be referred to another surgeon. You do need to express and validate your frustrations, but the company of a friend, relative or your family doctor would be better than your surgeon’s office for blowing off steam.

Get help from your Surgeon
Establish with your surgeon that further treatment will be necessary, the appropriate timing, and whether they are the right person to do it. If they agree you will need treatment but that they lack the expertise, obtain a referral. Your surgeon is responsible for your care until someone else has assumed responsibility. If your surgeon doesn’t agree there is a problem, you should get an independent opinion from another surgeon and see if that changes the discussion. This new surgeon isn’t commenting on whether the surgery was ‘botched’, but whether the result could be improved and by what means.

Get help from a New Surgeon
Referral to a new surgeon is often the best course of action if you lack confidence in the original surgeon. The new surgeon is not ‘invested’ in the virtues of the original operation, and not trying to fix things on a budget. The one problem with referral to a new surgeon is that revision of a cosmetic procedure is generally not covered by insurance, and may be more expensive than the original procedure. You could ask your original surgeon to refund all/part of your original surgical fee to put towards a revision. You could consider a lawsuit, but remember that a bad or even terrible result is not sufficient for a successful lawsuit. You must also prove that the surgeon did not meet the standard of care.

When you see your new surgeon, remember that their role is to help you get better, not confirm whether you were a victim of malpractice. You will need the help of a lawyer (who will in turn seek out a surgeon to provide expert opinion) if you are intent on establishing malpractice.

At your new consultation, be sensitive to the many reasons that surgeons avoid ‘botched’ patients. Botched patients often drag even the new surgeon into lawsuits, botched patients are angry, botched patients are financially depleted (time off work for original surgery, fees for new surgery), fixing ‘botch’ is sometimes difficult/impossible, and ‘botch’ looks bad sitting in a surgeon’s waiting room (other patients don’t know the ‘botch’ was from another surgeon). On the plus side, some practices (like ours!) include reconstructive surgery in their daily practice and have the expertise to take on challenging cases. We also appreciate the opportunity to share in the rewards of fixing a difficult problem.

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Michael Kreidstein, MD, MSc, FRCS(C)

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