LIFESTYLE

Women Sues Top Cosmetic Surgeon After Tummy-Tuck Operation For Stretch Marks Leaves Her Scarred

05/11/2014 13:08 GMT | Updated 05/11/2014 14:59 GMT

Many women dislike the stretch marks they are left with after pregnancy, but Irene Packham decided to do something about hers.

The 47-year-old mother-of two contacted Anita Hazari at The Chaucer Hospital in Canterbury, Kent, because she wanted a tummy-tuck in order to remove the excess skin and stretch marks on her stomach.

But Packham, has now sued the top cosmetic surgeon after the procedure left her with scarring and burning pain.

Packham, who had previously had breast implants and liposuction, had the private abdominoplasty procedure in September 2009 and was shocked when the dressings were removed a few days after her tummy-tuck operation.

irene packham

Irene Packham leaving the Royal Courts of Justice in central London

"I looked down at the job and I couldn't believe what she had done, I couldn't understand it. It was a shock. I fell back on the bed.

"Miss Hazari was concerned and said 'be careful, you'll tear the stitches'. She was comforting and said she was going to reverse it," Packham told Judge Michael Harvey at London's High Court.

Packham, of Sandwich, Kent, is not claiming that the way the procedure was carried out was negligent but says she should have been advised of the predictable consequences before she gave consent.

She said that, if she had, she would not have consented to the operation at all or only to a less major procedure and would have avoided the outcome of a significant visible vertical scar - rather than the half-inch scar she was expecting - and the pain of nerve entrapment.

She told the judge that Hazari, who denies liability, had advised her that the scarring was nothing to worry about and would all be concealed below the bikini line - and even asked her to wear her bikini when she was marked up for surgery.

The scarring was resolved to some extent by a revision operation in her native Australia in February 2013, which also got rid of the pain, but she still needed make-up to obscure the marks when she was on the beach.

She is claiming £20,000 damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and around £30,000 for help she needed around the home because of her chronic "pulling and burning" abdominal pain and for possible future surgery to make the scarring less prominent.

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Packham, who was accompanied in court by her husband Tony, said that when she asked Hazari to explain what went wrong, the surgeon said that she had completely unrealistic expectations and that the procedure had improved her contour and would improve her sex life - neither of which she had complained about.

"I said 'you have done something different, I want you to explain what you have done'.

"You need to be able to have trust in your doctor. When you know something is different to what has been discussed... I wanted an explanation and she wouldn't give it to me.

"Instead, she became very angry and said things she shouldn't."

Packham said she told the surgeon that it was "crap" and Hazari had replied that, if Packham didn't like it, she could sue her and she would settle out of court.

Packham, who contacted the police and the General Medical Council as well as consulting solicitors, said: "It's been absolutely traumatic because I haven't had answers. It was like I didn't deserve any answers."

She sought a second opinion and, after consulting the Citizens Advice Bureau, wrote to the General Medical Council and even rang the police.

Her counsel, Hannah Godfrey, told the judge that in cosmetic surgery, the consent procedure should be patient-focused and must include anything which was material to a patient's subjective concerns about the process.

Lawyers for Hazari say that Packham was shown a presentation of pre- and post-operation diagrams and photos before the surgery, which all showed a vertical scar running up from the abdomen, and she had been told about it.

Hazari had also discussed the risks of surgery, including scars, had sent a letter about the risks to her and her GP, and they were listed on the consent form which Packham signed.

The hearing, which will resolve the disputed issues of breach of duty, causation and the amount of any compensation, is due to last three days.

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