A successful 49 year old business woman whose botched cosmetic surgery left her with a drooping eye and mouth, uneven breasts and a severe loss of confidence has been awarded a six-figure sum in total damages.
The claimant had visited a cosmetic surgeon seeking advice on reshaping her nose and removing dark circles under her eyes. The surgeon proposed more extensive surgery involving a facelift to correct sagging skin as well as the replacement of her existing breast implants.
However, the surgery caused permanent damage to the claimant's right facial nerve, resulting in a lack of movement on the right side of her face, a drooping eye and a right angled drop of her mouth. The surgery also left her left breast higher than the right one and oddly shaped with unsightly, lumpy scarring.
Following further corrective surgery, the woman’s facial muscles partly recovered but a pronounced facial twitching began to develop, which spread over the whole of the right side of the claimant's face. The botched surgery had a profound psychological impact, which was diagnosed as a severe depressive disorder. As a result, the claimant was unable to continue with her work, losing significant potential earnings, and her family relationships also deteriorated.
Size of the claim contested
The surgeon initially failed to accept that any blunders had been made, then later admitted negligence but contested the size of the claim for compensation.
The court noted that the claimant had been “a confident, happy and outstandingly successful woman with a full and rewarding family and social life”. The negligent surgery had serious physical and psychological consequences, which harmed the relationship with her husband and restricted her ability to work. However the judge also said that her business had failed for “unrelated commercial and economic reasons”.
The judge awarded £80,000 in general damages for the clinical negligence claim. The bulk of the compensation, relating to lost earnings both past and future, was £6.19 million, considerably less than the £54 million claimed to reflect her significant potential loss as a 50% shareholder of the business.