For all your legal challenges...

We're here to help


Cosmetic Surgeon Cleared of Negligent Rhinoplasty Claim

It is inevitable that some patients who undergo cosmetic surgery are disappointed by the results. As a High Court ruling made plain, however, more than shattered hopes are needed to found a successful clinical negligence claim.

The case concerned a woman who underwent a rhinoplasty procedure. She alleged that the surgery was negligently performed and left her with an S-shaped deviation of the septum. She said that she suffered serious breathing difficulties as a result and spoke with a nasal timbre. Panic attacks and other psychiatric symptoms had since affected her personal relationships and professional life.

Ruling on her clinical negligence claim, the Court noted that she had not in any way consciously sought to misrepresent her experience or the history of what happened. She had done her best to assist the Court and believed that she had suffered significant and disabling breathing difficulties dating back to the immediate post-operative period. However, the Court formed the impression that she was generally an unreliable historian.

The Court had no doubt that she went into the operating theatre with the hope, and perhaps the expectation, that she would emerge with a perfect little nose and that this, in conjunction with breast surgery, would improve her confidence. It must have been disappointing to her that, following the operation, her nose was neither as perfect nor as little as she had hoped.

Dismissing her claim, the Court noted documentary evidence that the caveats and risks associated with the procedure were discussed with her prior to the operation. The detailed consent documentation recorded that she was given no guarantees or promises as to the outcome and that she was told that the crooked appearance of her nose would not be corrected.

The Court found that the septal deviation was not caused by the surgeon but pre-dated the operation. It became symptomatic for a number of possible reasons, including environmental and psychological factors. The moderate deviation was associated with airflow through the affected nostril that was within normal limits, although at the lower end of the range. The woman's breathing difficulties were unlikely to have been as bad, or as consistently bad, as she claimed.