Tempted by cosmetic surgery, but don't know where to start? Follow this step-by-step checklist to help find the right surgeon for you.
Before you start
- Do your homework before you let anyone near your precious face or body with a scalpel or syringe. Check websites like Consulting Room or Surgery Door, which can give you an overview of what's involved, risks and all, and provide links to other sources of information. The website of The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has detailed information on a wide range of cosmetic operations. (See Help and info for details of websites.)
- Results of cosmetic surgery are very variable. If you see 'before and after' pictures, widely shown on US websites, remember that these are the clinic's very best results, and yours may not be the same.
- Read widely on the procedure you want, so you understand exactly what's involved.
- Find out about the possible risks and side-effects of treatments, as well as the benefits.
- Ask yourself why you want treatment. Cosmetic surgery can't rescue a relationship that's going wrong, or solve every emotional problem in your life.
- Talk to friends or family who've had treatments and find out what they thought of the whole experience.
- Don't embark on surgery if you are facing any major problems. Wait until life calms down.
- Work out what you want to achieve. Get a clear idea of what it's reasonable to expect.
Finding a surgeon
- Beware of persuasive ads placed by clinics in magazines or on the internet.
- In some circumstances certain cosmetic treatments are available on the NHS, and it could be worth checking with your GP before you search for private treatment.
- You can ask your GP to refer you, or find out names of surgeons from The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), The General Medical Council or the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons. You can also look on websites like Consulting Room, which have lists of surgeons. (See Help and info below for details of organizations and websites.) Local directories, like Thomson or Yellow Pages are another source of names.
- Ask people you know who've had the treatment you want if they can give a personal recommendation.
- When you've found several local possibilities, ring round a shortlist of two or three and ask for information on their services. This should give you more of an idea of which one to choose.
- Book a consultation, or have more than one, so that you can compare clinics and surgeons. You may be offered a free consultation at this stage, possibly with a nurse or salesperson. If you decide to go ahead, make sure you can also have a consultation with the person who will be operating on you. Check that any before/after pictures you're shown are of operations performed by your surgeon.
- Be cautious if the person you see at the first consultation starts suggesting treatments to other parts of the body.
- Go with your gut feelings. Does the clinic seem clean and well-organised? Are you being given a hard sell? If something doesn't feel right, walk away.
Questions to ask
- What are the options for treatment on the area of face or body that you want to improve?
- What experience has your surgeon had? How many times has he or she performed this particular procedure? Where will the operation take place?
- When you're researching treatments, write down detailed questions as they occur to you and ask them all.
- What are the clinic's facilities? Is resuscitation equipment available, and are doctors on the site 24 hours a day? What after-care is offered?
- How long will it take to recover? How much time will you need off work? Will there be much pain and bruising? At what stage are stitches removed? What kind of scar will there be?
- Will the treatment have to be repeated in future? How long should the results last?
- What will the procedure cost? Are there any extras?
What to do next
- Don't make an on-the-spot decision. Give yourself at least two weeks to think it over.
- Only go ahead if you trust the surgeon, and are confident that he/she understands what you hope to achieve and thinks it is realistic.
- Once you've decided to go ahead, you should have a detailed discussion with your surgeon to find out exactly what is going to be done. The surgeon will take a medical history, and might take 'before' photographs, to make a comparison after treatment. You'll be asked to sign consent forms, and the surgeon might write to your GP with details of the treatment.
- You should be given detailed instructions on the after-care, and it's important to follow these to avoid problems with healing and to make sure you get the best results.
- If, after surgery, you are unhappy with the results, you can ask a BAAPS- registered surgeon to check out the surgery you've had and assess whether you have a reasonable complaint.
- If the clinic involved does not accept your complaint, consult a solicitor who specialises in medical cases.
Help and info
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British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS)
c/o The Royal College of Surgeons of England
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London WC2A 3PE
Advice Line: 020 7405 2234
Offers information about aesthetic plastic surgery. Its website features a search facility for accredited surgeons.
General Medical Council
350 Euston Road
London NW1 3JN
Tel: 0845 357 0022
Contact the GMC for information about its specialist register of plastic surgeons. The above telephone and e-mail are to check whether any UK doctor is fit to practise. For any other enquiry, go to the website for a list of contacts.
British Association of Plastic Surgeons
The professional representative body for plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the UK. Can confirm whether or not an individual surgeon is a member.
Channel 4 Health Magazine – Changing Faces
Article about the current trend in plastic surgery. It looks at the pros and cons and lists all the relevant medical bodies, books and websites.
Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon
If you're considering any form of cosmetic surgery this information is invaluable. It explains how to check the qualifications of anyone purporting to be a plastic or cosmetic surgeon.
The Consulting Room
Good UK site that provides a wide range of impartial and independent cosmetic and medical information and demystifies the world of cosmetic treatments.
Original Article: http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/L/lust4life/look_young/surgeon.html
(No longer available)