What does a Skin Camouflage Expert Witness do? It’s quite a mouthful, and everyone who knows my professional past generally assumes it is linked to being a lawyer, or at least to having been a lawyer. Whilst that is certainly an important advantage, it is only indirectly so. It means that I am familiar with the legal system and can comfortably draft in a format and language that legal professionals know and understand. The core of being an expert witness, however, lies in possessing expertise in an area that the judge is not familiar with, and that indeed a layperson could not be expected to have. Expert witnesses are often therefore called from professions such as doctors and accountants and engineers, and any professions requiring a high degree of technical or specialist knowledge.
As a skin camouflage expert witness, I am called upon to assist the court in determining quantum, i.e. the level of compensation to be awarded in any given case rather than working out who is at fault. My expertise is used to assess the particular Claimant’s suitability for skin camouflage and whether it is effective to minimise the visibility of scars sustained usually in a personal injury situation. I use my expertise to recommend specific products to achieve the best possible result and then set out the prices of those products as well as the rate at which they would need to be replaced. This allows the solicitors and ultimately the judge to calculate the overall expense of using skin camouflage and the appropriate compensation in any given case.
Unfortunately, skin camouflage is very often overlooked as an area of expertise. Generally, in personal injury cases a GP will be consulted, and often a plastic surgeon. But more often than not, if the plastic surgeon has reached their limits, that is seen as the end of the road. Skin camouflage is, however, so important precisely where plastic surgery is not possible, advisable or wanted by the Claimant. It is extremely rare for skin camouflage not to be possible in cases of scarring, and I have yet to be asked to provide an opinion where it has not been effective. The results can be dramatic, and generally surpass the Claimant’s expectations.
Skin camouflage products not only disguise the colouration of the scar, they can also improve the overall appearance and make issues of texture less noticeable, especially when combined with a few cosmetic make-up tricks. Specialist primers can prepare the non-porous scarred skin for skin camouflage so that adhesion to the skin is much improved and products don’t slide off or fade. The skin camouflage products themselves can be applied in such a way as to slightly fill in any indented areas and appear to flatten the surface of particularly textured skin.
Of course skin camouflage has its limits, and I am often frustrated by them. If skin is scarred it will likely remain that way permanently, and no amount of skin camouflage will change that. If the skin is strongly textured, raised or indented, it will also remain that way. But the eye can be tricked into not noticing it, and not being instantly drawn to the area in question. For anyone who has suffered traumatic injury and who wants to feel a bit more like their old selves, this can mean a lot. They may not seek perfection or flawless skin, but being able to forget about their injuries in a social situation or when meeting new people for the first time, not worrying about questions that might be raised or looks that might come their way, can be a small comfort in what is often a very difficult time of adjustment.
There have been some scientific studies to try to measure the impact of skin camouflage and overall the findings were resoundingly positive. There has even been a study into using wider tools such as cosmetics, hairstyles and glasses – again with very positive outcomes. Anecdotally, I have found that often the simple fact of the Claimant knowing that they can conceal their scars if they want to is very empowering in itself, whether or not they then decide to use it regularly or at all.
For a relatively minor investment in a skin camouflage consultation and exert witness report, the Claimant’s life may be significantly changed both in terms of confidence and in terms of compensation payable.
 See eg Cosmetic camouflage advice improves quality of life. Holme SA1, Beattie PE, Fleming CJ ,Burns. 2014 Feb;40(1):135-49. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2013.04.025. Epub 2013 Jun 13.