Cosmetic Surgery Complications

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 26, 2021
2 min read

Everyone who gets cosmetic surgery hopes for the perfect result. But complications can occur, and you should think about how to handle them before having the procedure done.

Follow these six steps if something goes wrong:

1. Talk with your surgeon. Be honest and open with your feelings and expect the same from your surgeon. Try to understand what happened and, if possible, why it happened -- without assigning blame. Most importantly, make sure you understand the solution that is offered.

2. Give yourself time to reflect. Be objective. Try not to let emotions such as fear and anger interfere with your thinking. Be patient. This is stressful for you, probably your family and for your surgeon. Realize that many problems will resolve in time as your body heals.

3. Consider a second cosmetic procedure. If the healing process has completed and you're still not satisfied, talk with your surgeon about a second procedure. You should discuss in detail the risks, the worse-case scenario, the costs, and the plan of action if the revision fails. Some surgeons will not charge a fee for revision surgery, but you may be charged facility and anesthesia fees. You may prefer to ask for a second opinion at this point, which may help ease your doubts and provide a new perspective for both you and your surgeon.

4. Consider finding a new cosmetic surgeon. When trust and communication are lost, your relationship with the surgeon is broken. Make the effort to rebuild the relationship. But if this is not possible, it's time to find a new surgeon. You’ll need to follow all the normal guidelines recommended in choosing a good cosmetic surgeon, plus overcome some surgeons' reluctance to take on people who haven't been happy with procedures. Keep in mind a new surgeon will almost certainly charge you for any revision surgery.

5. Contact the state medical board. If you feel your surgeon did something inappropriate, you should file a complaint with the state medical board. If there is evidence of gross negligence causing harm, the board may take action against the surgeon.

6. Consider legal action. A lawsuit should be the last resort and only used when you can no longer communicate with your surgeon, making resolution impossible. It's not a decision you want to make based only on your emotions. Legal action can be very emotionally draining for you and your family, time-consuming, and costly (especially if the judgment shows no wrong-doing on behalf of the surgeon).