Woman awarded R417 920 after tummy-tuck wound failed to heal
JULIANA Joubert’s surgeon promised her a “tiny waistline” and assured her that her weight was no obstacle to a tummy tuck. But now a scarred Joubert regrets her decision to have the tuck after she had to undergo two further operations when the initial wound failed to heal.
The Pretoria woman instituted a R2.3 million damages claim against the surgeon, Dr Andre Meyer, as she said he had not informed her about the complications she could suffer.
Joubert told the North Gauteng High Court that by the third operation, she had felt she was “not going to make it”.
The 50-year-old suffers from constant pain and the fear that the wound will open again.
Meyer made it clear that he did not admit liability for the complications she suffered, but agreed to pay 90% of the damages Joubert could prove she had suffered from the procedure he performed on her.
Meyer only performed the initial operation, in July 2011.
The two subsequent operations were perfor med by a different surgeon.
Joubert testified that when she initially consulted Meyer, she had been overweight and had suffered from high blood pressure. He told her to come back after her blood pressure had normalised.
She later returned. Joubert told the court Meyer had said she would look pretty again after the procedure. He had performed a tummy tuck on her mother-in-law years earlier.
Two years after Joubert consulted Meyer, he performed the operation, which she was told would last two-and-a-half hours. But four- and- a- half hours later, she woke up in the operating theatre.
Meyer had told her he had removed 4kg of fat.
Joubert said she had been told the next day that she could go home. The stitches had been removed 18 days later.
She had noticed the wound was gaping and returned to Meyer, who stitched up the wound again with a “blunt” needle.
Joubert had returned to the doctor after 50 days when the wound still did not heal. She was told Meyer had had a heart attack and that a reconstructive surgeon would take care of her.
The first operation the specialist performed was not a success as she had two “holes” next to each other, which became one big hole. Joubert had to undergo yet another operation where skin, obtained from the University of Pretoria, was placed over the wound. This also did not work, as the “date on the skin had lapsed”.
New skin was placed over the wound, but it would take six more months for the wound to heal.
Joubert was left with severe pain and physical and emotional scarring.
She blamed her entire ordeal on Meyer and said he should have provided her with information about the possible consequences of the initial operation. She said he should have told her he could not operate on her, because she was overweight at the time.
Lawyers acting for Meyer argued that Joubert had been left with further scarring from the two additional operations.
The defence did not contest that Joubert had not been fully infor med about the consequences of the operation.
Acting Judge George Avvakoumides awarded R417 920 to Joubert, of which a portion is to be used for psychotherapy in future.