Plastic Surgery Statistics

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, surgeons performed roughly 18.1 million cosmetic procedures and 5.9 million reconstructive procedures across the United States in 2019. Out of these millions of procedures, 92% were for women. (1)

Estimates suggest hundreds of people die each year from cosmetic procedures: (2) (3)

  • The mortality rate for liposuction is 1.3 per 50,000 procedures.
  • The mortality rate for Brazilian butt lift is 1 per 20,000 procedures.
  • The mortality rate for abdominoplasty is 1 per 13,000 procedures.

Common Plastic Surgery Injuries

Some of the most common plastic surgery injuries are: hematoma, blood loss, nerve damage, organ damage, seroma, scarring, and complications due to anesthesia. (4)


Hematoma is a collection of blood below the skin. Hematomas look like large, painful bruises. They occur in roughly 1% of breast enlargement procedures. Hematomas are also the most frequent complication after a facelift, affecting roughly 1% of patients. Treatment may require additional surgery.

Blood Loss

Some blood loss is usual. However, uncontrolled blood loss can be life-threatening. Your blood pressure can drop, potentially leading to death. Excessive bleeding can occur during surgery or afterwards, internally.

Nerve Damage

Numbness and tingling are typical of surgery, but they can also be signs of nerve damage. Sometimes it is permanent. Women who have undergone breast enlargement surgery may notice a change in sensitivity. Roughly 15% of women may suffer permanent changes in nipple sensation.

Organ Damage

Liposuction may sound like a minimally invasive type of surgery, but it can put a lot of stress on your internal organs. Surgeons can puncture or perforate your organs with instruments called surgical probes. This damage must be repaired because perforations can lead to death.


Seromas occur when sterile body fluid (serum) collects beneath your skin’s surface. You may experience swelling and pain. Seromas are the most common problem following a tummy tuck, affecting roughly 15% to 30% of patients. Seromas can become infected. Treatment may involve draining the fluid with a needle. However, seromas may reoccur.


Some scarring initially after cosmetic surgery is typical. Experienced surgeons know how to minimize scar appearance. However, a type of scarring you don’t want to see is called hypertrophic scarring. This type of scarring is abnormally red, thick, and raised. Roughly 1.0% to 3.7% of people undergoing a tummy tuck may notice this type of scarring.

Complications of Anesthesia

Doctors use a type of medication called anesthesia to dull the pain or make you unconscious. The hope is you won’t feel the medical procedure. However, you can develop serious complications due to the anesthesia you receive. Severe, life-threatening complications include lung infection, stroke, heart attack, or even death.

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Additional Complications

Other possible complications include infection, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. (5)


Infection is a potentially common complication of plastic surgery. For example, 1.1% to 2.5% percent of people who undergo breast enhancement surgery get an infection. A skin infection called cellulitis may also develop. Sometimes infections develop inside the body. These can be severe. Treatment may involve intravenous antibiotics.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

Deep vein thrombosis is also called DVT. This condition occurs when a blood clot occurs in a deep vein. These types of clots usually develop in your leg. If a clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism, or PE. Although rare, these clots can lead to death. Patients who have undergone an abdominoplasty procedure are slightly more at risk for developing a DVT or PE, around 1%.

Causes of Injuries

Surgeons can injure a person during cosmetic surgery, sometimes seriously. They might:

  • Hit a nerve.
  • Puncture an organ.
  • Fail to stop uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Neglect to safeguard you from infection.

Doctors and other health care providers are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care. Meaning, they are supposed to provide you with the kind of care other qualified, experienced, health care providers would do in similar circumstances.

Complications Caused by Negligence

A doctor’s negligence can lead to injuries. Others who assist in surgery can also be negligent, for example, nurses and anesthesiologists.

Doctors are considered negligent if they pass themselves off as plastic surgeons when they have little or no training in the specialty of plastic surgery. For example, just because doctors are good at triple-bypass heart surgery doesn’t mean they are qualified to perform breast augmentation. Or, just because doctors are excellent OB/GYNs doesn’t mean they are qualified to perform a tummy tuck.

Another example of negligence is if an untrained, unqualified person handles your anesthesia. People who aren’t trained to be anesthesiologists should not be handling your anesthesia. Negligence is also when an anesthesiologist administers anesthesia incorrectly or carelessly.

If a surgeon operates on the wrong part or side of your body, that is negligence. It is also negligence if your surgeon decides to do a face lift when all you wanted was a nose job. Surgeons should do the surgery as you discussed and not go further.

Medical Malpractice and Compensation

Medical malpractice suits are on the rise, increasing each year. Plastic surgeons are at particularly high risk of being sued. Recent studies show roughly 13% of plastic surgeons face malpractice claims annually. (6)

Your doctor has a duty to you. Your doctor can be held responsible for breaching that duty, if it causes you an injury. Legally, you need to prove your injury was a result of the breach.

If your doctor or other health care provider was negligent, you should consider suing them. It does not matter if they harmed you accidentally or because of recklessness.

If you were injured as a result of a plastic surgeon’s malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation.

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How W&L Can Help

If you were injured during a cosmetic surgery procedure because of your surgeon’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills. Or if a loved one died, you can file a wrongful death suit.

Contact a reputable law firm with lots of experience in medical malpractice cases. Because laws vary from state to state, seek a firm based in New York if that is where your injury occurred.

Your attorney listens to your specific circumstances and handles all of the legal proceedings on your behalf. You need to hire someone you trust and believe can do everything legally possible to get you a successful overall outcome.

Weitz & Luxenberg is located in Manhattan and has been handling personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice cases for over 30 years. Plus, we have a solid history of winning.

Here are just a couple examples of our medical malpractice wins:

  • $1.2 million settlement: A woman in her 30s had a tummy tuck done at an outpatient facility. Just two days later, she experienced a pulmonary embolism. She was taken to the Emergency Room (ER) immediately but died five days later. The outpatient facility had used defective equipment during our client’s procedure, leading to the fatal embolism.
  • $2.2 million settlement: A young woman underwent a tonsillectomy and developed complications shortly afterwards. She went to the ER. They misdiagnosed her, admitted her to the hospital, provided inappropriate treatment for several days, and sent her home — even though she still had a sore throat and difficulty swallowing. She died soon after from blood loss due to a ruptured surgical wound.