More and more people are opting to have cosmetic surgery. Choosing the right surgeon and clinic can be difficult unless choice is informed by balanced advice. The Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee – made up of experts representing the different type of doctor who perform cosmetic treatments – offers the following suggestions which have been endorsed by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Research the procedure
Read as much as you can about the procedure or treatment you are interested in having. This will help make sure that it is right for you and that you are aware of the pros and cons of treatment. For example:
• The Department of Health in the UK has produced a booklet for women considering having breast implants. See www.doh.gov.uk/bimplants/index.htm
• The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) provides information on a wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures. Advice line: +44 207405 2234 or www.baaps.org.uk
• The British Association of Otolaryngologists/Head & Neck Surgeons provides information on cosmetic surgery performed by ear, nose and throat (ENT)surgeons. Call +44 20 7404 8373 or email Sharon@bao-hns.demon.co.uk or visit their website at www.entuck.org
• The British Oculoplastic Surgery Society (BOPSS) provides information on oculoplastic surgeons who do specialised plastic surgery of the eyelids, periocular region and face. See www.bopss.org.
• For a wide range of impartial and independent cosmetic and medical information visit www.consultingroom.com
• See Annex for further organisations
Choose the right doctor
Get a referral from your GP – they can make sure that, with your permission, any important information about your medical history is passed to the cosmetic surgeon. It also means that your GP can provide for you if you have any problems or need advice after the procedure. If you do not wish to involve your GP, make sure you choose a surgeon who has been recommended to you or obtain as much information as possible before you make your choice. You should be offered an initial consultation with the doctor who will perform the operation/procedure. Do not be afraid to ask the doctor about his/her qualifications and expertise in the procedure you are interested in. You may want to ask how many times they have performed the operation and how often complications occur. Feel free to take someone with you, together with a note of any questions you’d like to ask during the consultation.
• Find out whether a cosmetic surgeon is on the Medical Council’s Specialist Register by calling 01 4983164, or by accessing their website at www.medicalcouncil.ie/registration. As the Register is voluntary at present some cosmetic surgeons may not be on the specialist register but they will be required to keep their practice up to date.
• The Independent Healthcare Forum has produced a guide on the standards that cosmetic surgeons should meet. For a copy see www.ihf.org.uk
Find out about the clinic or hospital
The best way to choose a clinic or hospital is through your GP. If this is not an option, make an appointment at a few clinics, so that you can compare prices and the services offered.
• In the UK the Healthcare Commission Private and Voluntary Healthcare Directorate holds the register of all private clinics and hospitals that are registered to provide cosmetic surgery in England. It carries out inspections each year to make sure they comply with national minimum standards, including the quality of the services that they provide. The latest inspection report can be obtained from the Hospital or Clinic by requesting it.
•Unfortunately, no such process exists in Ireland at present, but this is likely to change with the anticipated amendment to the Medical Practitioners Act. All cosmetic surgery clinics and hospitals should be required to provide a Patient’s Guide detailing the services they offer, the cost, as well as information on making comments, complaints or suggestions. Try asking the clinic for a copy of its Patient’s Guide.
Know what to do if something goes wrong
Tell the clinic or hospital where you had treatment if you are unhappy with the result. They may offer you further treatment to rectify the problem.
• If you continue to be unhappy with the way the clinic, doctor or hospital have handled your complaint and if you have explored all ways with the organisation you were treated, you can make a complaint to the Department of Health and Children through:
Department of Health and Children
Tel: (01) 635 3111
LoCall 1890 200 311
• If your complaint is about the conduct or performance of a doctor, you can complain to the Medical Council. Call the IMC inquiry line 01 4983164 or see www.medicalcouncil.ie