Facelift leaves woman 'humiliated'

08:27, Mar 19 2012

A plastic surgeon has been ordered to apologise to a patient after a facelift left her feeling "inadequate, humiliated and insignificant".

The names of the patient, surgeon and clinic have all been suppressed, but a decision released today by Health and Disabilities Commissioner Anthony Hill found the surgeon failed to give adequate information on the procedure before asking for the patient's consent.

The 49-year-old woman, known as Mrs A, visited the surgeon, Dr B, in July 2008, after seeking help for premature aging.

In a 45-minute consultation the surgeon examined the woman, talked of the risks and recommended she be a candidate for a facelift.

No medical records were made of the consultation aside from a letter written by the surgeon to Mrs A on the same day, summarising their meeting.

After asking a number of questions via email, Mrs A signed consent for the surgery on August 26.


On September 9, Dr B performed the $31,000 surgery, which included an endoscopic brow lift, limited incision facelift, neck lift, pinch lower blepharoplasty and upper eyelid blepharoplasty at a private hospital.

In the months after her surgery, Mrs A said she was satisfied with the results, but by January 2009, her appearance began to deteriorate when the skin on her cheek bones started to sag.

Dr B reassured his patient the final result would not be visible until up to 12 months after the surgery.

However, in the commissioner's report, it said a follow-up consultation held with the surgeon in September "was conducted in a treatment room, [and] made her feel inadequate, humiliated and insignificant".

The findings said Dr B gave no reason as to why the surgery was a failure, but recommended corrective surgery at a further cost of $19,000.

Mrs A did have further surgery, carried out by a different surgeon, to fix the sagging.

In his findings, Dr Hill said the patient was not given enough information to be able to give informed consent.

"Dr B did not, either at the consultation or in subsequent emails, give Mrs A an adequate explanation of the options available regarding facial rejuvenation surgery, including an assessment of the expected risks, side effects, benefits and costs of each option."

Dr Hill also said a follow-up consultation one year after the surgery was far too long to wait.

"By three months, in my opinion, a stable state has been reached. Scars may still be immature, but swelling will have resolved, and any asymmetries at that stage are unlikely to resolve spontaneously."

Dr B was found to have breached two sections of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights: firstly when he failed to provide Mrs A with adequate information regarding the possible outcome of the surgery; and secondly when he performed the surgery on a patient who was not in a position to make an informed choice.

He was ordered to give a written apology to Mrs A.