Can Plastic Surgeons Post Your Nude Pics to Their Website Without Your Permission?

If you’ve gotten some cosmetic surgery, you’d probably want to show off the new you. And it’s understandable that plastic surgeons and clinics would want to show off their good work as well. But some of that work can be pretty personal, and while you can choose whether and how to show off your new body, does that mean surgeons and clinics can post whatever photos they want online, without your permission?

A Georgia woman is suing an Atlanta-area plastic surgery clinic, claiming they posted nude photos of her, including identifying tattoos, on their website, and those photos are still online, including Yelp and Facebook.

The Ultimate Invasion of Privacy

The suit was filed on behalf of Jane Doe, a grandmother who was horrified to find “nude pictures of her entire body” had been “prominently exposed and displayed” on Celebrity Body Sculpting and Cosmetic Surgery Center’s website. “I was just sick,” the woman told Fox 5 Atlanta. “I am still sick when I think about it because I carry myself in a dignified way. I never signed anything authorizing them to use any pictures of me. No photos were ever mentioned.”

According to the lawsuit, the photos showed identifiable and recognizable tattoos on her body, and, while she signed a “Notice of Privacy Practices Acknowledgment pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA)” prior to her initial exam, she never provided a release for photos to be published.

“Given what she does for a living and the public arena in which she needs to operate, this is the ultimate invasion of privacy,” the woman’s attorney, Ricardo Mosby, explained. And while the clinic removed the photos from its own site, they remain available online. Doe’s lawsuit is claiming invasion of privacy, violation of state and federal health care laws, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and is seeking injunctive relief and punitive damages.

Procedures and Privacy

This is not the first time plastic surgeons have gotten into trouble for posting client photos without permission. Last year, a Chicago woman sued a plastic surgeon who posted before-and-after photos of her breast augmentation procedure after the woman specifically crossed out that section of her release form. And another Chicago surgeon got into hot water after posting before-and-after pictures of the woman’s nasal reconstruction surgery on his website and labeling them “cocaine nose.”

Public disclosure of private facts can be the basis of an invasion of privacy claim. And the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act generally prohibits doctors and medical professionals from releasing any individually identifiable information that relates to the physical or mental condition or the provision of health care to an individual, without that person’s express permission.

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