With the popularity of cosmetic surgery increasing in the UK, and a rise in the number of commercial clinics offering procedures, it is more important than ever for patients to be given access to all the necessary facts about what surgery entails, and advice on how to choose a reputable and properly qualified surgeon like a BAAPS surgeon.
Make your own decisions: It’s vital to remember that the only person who can really decide whether you want to go ahead with cosmetic surgery is YOU. However, you do need to get input from a specialist to understand what is possible and suitable for your body, and what the associated risks and benefits might be to make an informed decision.
Do your research: Anyone considering a cosmetic procedure should ensure they are informed enough to understand the limitations and risks of any procedure. Remember, no procedure is 100% risk free and no surgeon can give a 100% guarantee of the results. Before any consultation do your research and take questions with you to get the most from your appointment. Detailed guides to many of the common cosmetic surgery operations can be found in our Procedures section.
Ask the right questions: Make sure you know what will happen at every stage of your surgery, including pre-operative assessments, the day of surgery, level of aftercare included and details of your total recovery time and any follow up consultations that may be needed.
For some procedures (such as breast implants) it’s also important to understand how long your results may last and whether there is any chance of further procedures being needed in the future.
As it is very important to understand as much as you can about the procedure, your consultant and the risks associated. Write down your wishes and concerns, along with any questions that you want to ask your surgeon so you don't forget them. The list could include the following questions:
- What care can I can expect post operation (after plastic surgery)?
- Who will look after me?
- How long will I need to be home/off from work for recovery?
- What happens if something goes wrong?
- What if I'm not pleased with the result?
- How much will it cost, including my aftercare?
- Will it cost extra to have further treatment if something goes wrong?
See a checklist from the Royal College of Surgeons here.
- Know your surgeon: Check that your consultation is with the actual surgeon who will carry out your operation, clinic managers and nurses should not be your only point of contact before your surgery. Meeting your surgeon face-to-face gives you the opportunity to ask them personally about their qualifications and experience of carrying out your specific procedure. Also, don’t be afraid of asking to speak to former patients as this is an ideal way to get honest feedback on a procedure and the surgeon. The BAAPS can help you find a reputable surgeon in your area – click here to visit our ‘Find a Surgeon’ section.
- Check surgical credentials: Many practitioners can claim to be experts, displaying impressive sounding qualifications in upmarket clinic offices, but it’s worth checking their credentials closely. A specialist Plastic Surgeon should have the FCRS (Plast) qualification and should be listed on the Specialist Register of Plastic Surgeons with the General Medical Council. Click here to search the GMC register online.
- Beware of ‘free’ consultations and avoid booking fees and non-refundable deposits, often a feature in many commercial clinics. A proper consultation with a qualified surgeon will not be free (although fees do vary), and if you do choose to go ahead with surgery but change your mind at any point, you should not be forced into going ahead because of hefty cancellation fees.
- Make it positive: Opting for cosmetic surgery is often about making the patient feel better about themselves, or giving them more confidence, and in the hands of a good surgeon this should be safe, stress free and positive experience. The BAAPS is all about empowering patients by providing the right knowledge to help them make good choices, whilst also ensuring our Members are adhering to our high standards of practice and continuously improving their skills through ongoing training in the latest innovations in cosmetic surgery.
- Be comfortable: Make sure you feel comfortable with the organisation, surgeon and clinic you have chosen and get a second opinion if necessary. If you feel pressured to book a procedure, or are not satisfied with the information being provided to you, then it is advisable to walk away. A reputable surgeon will never apply a time limit to booking a procedure, withhold key information or try to upsell you into additional surgery.
Get the timing right: Unless the circumstances are exceptional, it is advisable to avoid surgery if you have recently experienced major life events such as moving house, changing job, losing a loved one, the break-up of a relationship or the arrival of children. Undergoing cosmetic surgery results in emotional changes as well as physical ones, so it’s wise to choose a time when there aren’t other stressful events going on in your life.
Think about location: Give careful consideration to travelling long distances or overseas for any surgery. You need to be 100% comfortable with the arrangements for travel, aftercare, and the management of any problems or complications which might arise. Often travel insurance will not cover you for additional treatment or extra nights in hospital arising from an elective cosmetic procedure so it can easily become much more costly than expected.
Talk to your GP: Your GP can offer you unbiased advice on cosmetic surgery as they have no vested interest in your decision, and are only focused on your welfare. Many doctors are happy to advise patients and not be judgemental, so provide the ideal sounding board for a subject that many people can feel sensitive and vulnerable about.
You can always change your mind: Hopefully everything will go smoothly in the run-up to your operation, but remember you have the option to cancel right up until the time you go to sleep for surgery. The fundamental reason for the surgery is to make you feel better about yourself, and if this is compromised, surgery should not proceed. No reputable surgeon would normally impose any penalty for cancellations.
Use your common sense: Don’t be tempted by special offers or rushed into making your decision for a quick surgery slot. As a rule, anything that seems too good to be true probably is! There is no ‘one size fits all’ with cosmetic surgery, each case should always be evaluated individually, considering the medical history and current health of the patient alongside other factors such as their age and emotional state.
Take Your Time: Remember that undergoing surgery is a serious commitment. It is perfectly acceptable to take as much time as you need after an initial consultation to make a final decision.
A good surgeon will often recommend two consultations before booking a procedure, allowing you enough time to think it through, discuss it with your family and friends, and to ask any new questions that may crop up after your first meeting.
Read the following document from the Royal College of Surgeons if you are thinking about having Plastic Surgery.