Anyone fancy a tweak? It sounds quite nice, almost affectionate, but ‘tweakment’ is the name given to a minor cosmetic procedure, such as Botox, fillers or other injectable facial treatments. One consequence of the recent relaxing of the coronavirus lockdown measures, has been an increase in the number of people getting a little tweak, or seeking advice about more drastic enhancements from a Surgeon. The furlough scheme provided seemingly endless leisure time, and it appears that many choose to use it surfing the internet, where the beautiful (and considerably tweaked) people live. For others perhaps it was the sight of their own face in the corner of their computer screen, harshly illuminated by the unflattering lighting of the kitchen, and shot from an angle not usually seen during a Zoom call that was the catalyst. The fact is that more and more people are seeking non-surgical facial enhancements, as well as the more traditional cosmetic surgical procedures and there is a wide choice of practitioners ready and willing to oblige, with syringes and scalpels at the ready.
That’s one of the problems really. The Tweakment Industry is almost entirely unregulated, which means that non-medically qualified people are free to inject products such as fillers, with minimal training or experience. The situation has been described as ‘the wild west’, which is particularly worrying given that non-surgical treatments such as Botox and fillers account for 9 out of 10 cosmetic procedures in the UK and are worth about £2.75bn a year. The vast majority of clients who seek advice from me have had their procedures carried out by non-medically qualified practitioners.
The consequences, when things go wrong, are often painful and embarrassing. It’s hard to hide a disfiguring swelling of the lips or a droopy eye lid. The compensation awarded for negligent treatment which causes such cosmetic disfigurement can be considerable. In a Court Judgement last week, an Opera singer was awarded £45,000 in damages, when he was left with an ‘unreasonably asymmetrical’ hairline after hair transplant surgery. The procedure, which cost £5,000 and involved 11 hours of surgery, left the gentleman ‘horrified’ by a hairline which was noticeably higher on the right hand side. A bad hair day indeed.
On a more positive note, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice against all but essential travel may prevent the exceptionally risky business of ‘cosmetic tourism’, although as more countries make it onto the exception list, some may be tempted by the lower cost offers available. The moral of the story is ‘do your homework in advance’ and choose medically qualified, properly insured and experienced practitioners, if you are tempted to get a tweak here or there, and should the worst happen, ensure you get legal advice from a solicitor experienced in cosmetic surgery actions.
Nikki McConnell is a Partner in the Litigation Department at Worthingtons Solicitors and can be contacted on 028 9181 1538 or [email protected].
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