Last week, a New York appellate court agreed that a jury should hear a patient's malpractice complaint against a plastic surgeon. It was undisputed that a cosmetic procedure caused total vision loss in her left eye. The plaintiff/patient was a 35 year old woman who agreed to undergo multiple elective procedures in 2015 to transfer unwanted fat from her ankles and calves to her buttocks and face. The plastic surgeon claimed his goal was to increase facial volume (eliminating folds and creases) and correct buttock depressions using fat removed by liposuction from the calves and ankles of his patient. The plastic surgeon testified at his deposition to an estimate of 1400 or more injections to the buttocks alone, during this 3 hour procedure. Immediately after the procedure, the patient complained of left eye pain and decreased vision which progressively worsened.
One of the known risks of an autologous transdermal fat transfer to the face is the migration of fat and the occlusion of the central retinal artery resulting in blindness. It was claimed that the plastic surgeon did not inform the patient of the risk of blindness and was negligent for failing to properly aspirate before each injection of fat. Aspiration is a technique in drawing back on the syringe prior to injection to make sure that the point of the needle is not inside a blood vessel. With this favorable ruling for the patient, a jury will decide whether the doctor departed from accepted standards of medical care. Jane Doe v Lawrence S. Reed, M.D., 2019 WL 3417084