In Canada, cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever—from Botox injections to more invasive procedures like rhinoplasty, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t dabbled in cosmetic surgery (or at least thought about it). 

However, like any medical procedure, there’s always the possibility of something going wrong during cosmetic surgery—but how are cosmetic surgery claims handled in the context of medical malpractice? 

Below, we’ll discuss cosmetic surgery medical malpractice in Canada and what victims should know about a potential claim. 

What is Cosmetic Surgery? 

Cosmetic surgery (also called “plastic surgery”) is any surgery done to change a person’s appearance. Typically, cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure, meaning that an individual will usually seek out cosmetic surgery and have to pay for it out-of-pocket. In some cases, cosmetic surgery is also employed to reconstruct a body part. 

What is Medical Malpractice? 

Medical malpractice claims arise when a person suffers injury or loss due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional. Medical malpractice claims range from misdiagnoses (e.g., when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses a condition) to injury during surgery (e.g., when a doctor accidentally damages a part of the body while performing surgery). 

Cosmetic Surgery and Medical Malpractice

Despite cosmetic surgery usually being an elective procedure, individuals who suffer injury or loss due to a cosmetic surgeon’s error are not precluded from bringing a medical malpractice claim. 

Cosmetic surgery malpractice claims can be especially emotional claims for victims, given that they are elective procedures. Victims may ask themselves why they decided to have a procedure done if only to suffer an associated loss or worsen their situation. 

The best way to navigate cosmetic surgery malpractice is to understand the process moving forward. To that end, we’ve provided a brief overview of cosmetic surgery malpractice claims below. 

How Common are Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claims in Canada? 

Unfortunately, cosmetic surgery malpractice claims aren’t entirely uncommon in Canada. A recent research article compiled relevant cosmetic surgery malpractice cases in Canada, noting that cosmetic surgery is associated with higher rates of medical malpractice claims than other medical procedures. Furthermore, cosmetic breast surgery is much more likely to result in medical malpractice claims than other types of cosmetic surgery. 

Common Injuries in Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claims

Like any surgery, cosmetic surgery has inherent risks that can arise due to a surgeon’s negligence. For example, issues relating to anesthesia, operating on the wrong body part, or providing improper post-surgical instructions can all result in a cosmetic surgery malpractice claim. 

What is more common in cosmetic surgery malpractice than many other types of malpractice claims, however, is claims relating to scarring and disfigurement. For example, cosmetic surgery on a patient’s face is a delicate procedure that can easily result in scarring or aesthetic issues. And, while scarring or disfigurement doesn’t necessarily hurt an individual’s ability to function (unlike breaking your arm), these types of injuries usually negatively impact an individual’s well-being. Consider, also, that the effect of scarring or disfigurement on a highly visible area of a person’s body, like the face or chest, is much higher than, say, scarring on a more discrete area of the body. 

Proving Negligence in Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claims

To establish cosmetic surgery malpractice, a plaintiff needs to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that: 

  • The medical professional owed them a duty of care; 
  • The medical professional breached their standard of care; 
  • The patient sustained injuries or losses; and
  • The injuries or losses were caused by the medical professional’s breach of their standard of care. 

It is well-accepted that medical professionals, including cosmetic surgeons, owe a duty of care to their patients. The standard of care expected of a medical professional is to exercise a reasonable degree of skill and knowledge that would reasonably be expected of a normal, prudent medical professional of the same experience and standing. 

In some cases, cosmetic surgeons will be held to an even higher standard due to their higher degree of training and specialization. 

Compensation in Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claims

Victims in cosmetic surgery malpractice claims are entitled to claim various types of damages depending on the nature of their injuries and the impact on their life, including the following: 

  • Non-pecuniary damages: compensating the victim for their injuries, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. 
  • Past and future loss of income or earning capacity: compensating the victim for any income loss they suffered (or expected to suffer) due to the medical professional’s negligence. 
  • Past and future expenses: compensating the victim for expenses they suffered (or expect to suffer) due to the medical professional’s negligence, like the cost of reconstructive surgery to correct disfigurement. 

According to recent research, the average monetary value of reported cosmetic surgery malpractice claims in Canada was $61,076. However, remember that the amount of damages available in cosmetic surgery malpractice claims can vary wildly depending on the type of injuries and their impact on the victim. 

Take, for instance, a victim who sustains facial disfigurement following cosmetic surgery malpractice. For some individuals, the ultimate impact of facial disfigurement might be minimal (i.e., it might not cause them to take time off work, incur expenses, or otherwise suffer significant losses). For other individuals, facial disfigurement could drastically impact their mental health or even their livelihood if their employment is intrinsically tied to their appearance. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine how much you may be entitled to as a victim of cosmetic surgery malpractice is to work with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer

Hiring a Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Lawyer 

To ensure the highest chances of success for your cosmetic surgery malpractice claim, work with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. As cosmetic surgery malpractice claims can be very complex, requiring significant medical and expert evidence, you’ll want to work with a lawyer familiar with this area. They will be in the best position to help you navigate medical terminology, techniques, and the endless medical records required to frame your cosmetic surgery malpractice claim in the best light. 

Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers Serving Ottawa, Cornwall, Kingston & North Bay

Tierney Stauffer LLP’s experienced medical malpractice lawyers are passionate about defending patients whom the negligence of a medical professional has wronged. If you have suffered injury or loss due to cosmetic surgery malpractice or other forms of medical malpractice, don’t give the guilty party a chance to put others at risk.

Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today. 


Fax: 613-728-9866
510-1600 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K1Z 0A1


Toll-Free: 1-888-799-8057
340 Second Street East
Cornwall, Ontario
K6H 1Y9


Toll-Free: 1-888-799-8057
556 O’Connor Drive
Kingston, Ontario
K7P 1N3

North Bay

Toll-Free: 1-888-799-8057