Cosmetic surgery claims
Produced in partnership with Catriona Stirling of Cloisters

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note produced in partnership with Catriona Stirling of Cloisters provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Cosmetic surgery claims
  • Definition
  • Common cosmetic surgery claims
  • Background
  • Issues
  • Advertising
  • Regulation
  • Medical history and consent
  • Managing expectations
  • Aftercare
  • More...

Cosmetic surgery claims


Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions, published by the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2016 describes cosmetic interventions as:

‘...any intervention, procedure or treatment carried out with the primary objective of changing an aspect of a patient’s physical appearance. This includes surgical and non-surgical procedures, both invasive and non-invasive.’

Over recent years there has been an explosion of cosmetic surgery procedures; this growth has been partly contributed to by online discounts. With this increase in procedures comes the potential for things to go wrong.

Common cosmetic surgery claims

Examples of common types of claim are set out below:

  1. Failure to obtain informed consent

  2. Breast enlargement and reduction

  3. Facelifts (ryhtidectomy)

  4. Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)

  5. Botox and dermal filler treatment

  6. Nose reshaping (rhinoplasty) 

  7. Ear reshaping (otoplasty)

  8. Brow lifts

  9. Laser skin resurfacing 

  10. Cosmetic dentistry

  11. Tummy tucks or gastric band surgery

  12. Liposuction

  13. Other complications of surgery, such as damage to nerves, arteries and organs


In 2010 a working party was set up to consider cosmetic surgery practice in an effort to maintain standards across the board. Their paper, published in 2013, recommended that only licensed doctors, registered dentists and registered nurses should provide any cosmetic treatments, including laser treatments and injectable treatments such as Botox. The level of training and experience required would depend on how invasive the procedure is.

Then further, in the wake of the PIP implant scandal of 2012, the

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