A Day in the Life of A Skin Camouflage Expert Witness – by Babs Forman

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It is going to sound trite, but no two days are the same as a skin camouflage practitioner and expert witness, certainly not in my practice.

I changed career from law in order to satisfy my cravings for something more creative, and more personal. I now have the privilege of working with a huge range of different people who share their stories and their vulnerabilities with me. Each story is different, and I love having the time and space to really be able to listen to my clients, to give them a safe space, and to dedicate all my energy and focus into finding a solution that will make coping with the everyday a little easier for them.

My clients range from people with objectively fairly minor blemishes to those who have been severely affected by widespread burns or accident scarring. No two cases are the same, and no two people react to their scars or other skin concerns in the same way. I provide a judgement-free service, regardless of the objective severity of a skin concern. I understand fully how upsetting it can be to have a scar – particularly if it was a result of negligence or an accident of no fault of the clients. Having to see a constant reminder of the event, whether it was traumatic or is perceived as a gross injustice, can be very difficult to deal with. Similarly, people’s natural curiosity can be difficult to tolerate. Often strangers feel entitled to ask questions or make jokes. This may seem harmless and can be meant in a way that is not intended to cause distress or upset, but it means that my clients have to recount events that they may rather forget. Why should they have to do that? Why should they have to be subjected to stares or assumptions. Again, in many cases not deliberate or nasty, but they can be very intrusive. Skin camouflage can help detract attention away from the scarring and to avoid those unnecessarily upsetting first reactions.

As a skin camouflage practitioner, I generally see clients at my studio in central London. A consultation lasts 90 minutes and during that time we try multiple products until the client is happy that we have identified the best possible colour match and I am satisfied that they will be able to recreate the results.

As you can see from the above, working with so many different people and their respective concerns means that my days are very varied even as a skin camouflage practitioner. However, that is only one of the hats I wear.

As a skin camouflage expert witness, I am able to bring a very different skillset into the mix and can fall back more heavily on the skills I acquired during my time as a lawyer. Whilst a skin camouflage consultation with a client is the first step, I then turn the results of the consultation into a report that can be used by a judge to better assess the amount of damages needed to compensate that client for the expense of skin camouflage. In easier terms, I set out the product recommendations I have made and then calculate how much they would cost on a monthly or annual basis for the client in question. These reports end up being very detailed as they can make quite a significant difference to the outcome of a case. They tend to be around 20 – 30 pages long and include photographs of the scarring before and after the skin camouflage. Some days, therefore, I spend in front of the computer and not at all working on clients!

As there are only few of us who are able to produce skin camouflage expert witness reports in the UK, I often get instructed to carry out the initial assessment in the client’s home. As you can imagine there are often mobility or social anxiety issue involved and it is easier for me to travel to them. This means that I get to see lots of different parts of the country – an aspect of my work that I love. I’ve been everywhere from the depths of Cornwall to Scotland and everywhere in between. Obviously, due to COVID restrictions this has not been happening over the last few months, and in fact all my skin camouflage consultations have been conducted via video.

The third hat I wear is that of trainer. I currently work closely with The Academic Centre of Reconstructive Science, both in providing skin camouflage to their patients, and in teaching their students. In this highly exciting collaboration, we have been experimenting with skin camouflage for wearers of facial prosthetics. Soon some days I take my ‘mobile consultation room’ to the labs at Guys Hospital and work there.

As you can see, I get to work in many different settings and with lots of different people. I get to hear so many stories and am often moved and inspired, and happy to  be able to improve someone’s life after a difficult time, even if only is a small way.

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