1) Firstly and most importantly, if you go abroad to have cosmetic surgery, there is no reliable way for you to ensure that the surgeon is properly qualified. In the UK, cosmetic surgeons are registered with the GMC and official bodies such as BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and/or BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons), but it would be difficult for you to check a surgeon’s accreditation abroad, which makes having surgery abroad extremely risky.

2) Many patients book cosmetic surgery abroad because it looks like the cheaper option. Often, cheap treatments cut corners and are booked without any proper consultation with the surgeon. This can be disastrous. BAPRAS says it is best practice to have two consultations with a surgeon before any surgery, plus a cooling-off period to allow you to change your mind.

3) There is usually no aftercare provided for cosmetic procedures carried out abroad - in the worst cases once you pay up and leave the theatre, you cease to be of any interest. Problems can arise several years after the treatment (or even shortly after) and aftercare is a vital component of the surgical process. Even if there were aftercare abroad, could you afford to fly back out if something goes wrong? How much of a bargain would the surgery be in that case?

4) Travelling too soon after procedures may pose risks to health and hinder recovery. Both surgery and air travel increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. Some surgery packages include a 'holiday' after the procedure - however as alcohol, sunbathing and swimming will all be off-limits, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a fun option.

5) Most travel insurance agencies will not cover emergencies arising from this type of trip. The Association of British Insurers advises that companies will not pay claims for anything that goes wrong as a result of planned treatment abroad.

6) Misunderstandings that arise due to a language barrier can be very dangerous, with important advice or questions missed.

7) Crucially, there will be no system of legal redress when things go wrong. There are no international standards for plastic surgery that can be enforced, so the surgery will be undertaken entirely at your own risk, with no safety net.

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After outrage in the press at some aspects of plastic surgery following the PIP breast implant scandal, the medical director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, has launched a review into its practices. Describing an intention to clean up parts of the industry, Sir Bruce has talked about enforcing the psychological screening of prospective patients and cracking down on aggressive selling techniques.

The industry's reputable bodies have welcomed the review, with some stressing that measures should go even further in order to protect patients. BAAPS, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, backs an across-the-board ban on advertisements for cosmetic surgery. This would certainly help to prevent unethical businesses from cashing in by offering supposed 'deals' or applying pressure to people to buy surgery that is ill-advised for them.

Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Mr Paul Banwell, and member of SaferCosmeticSurgery, BAAPS and BAPRAS, says: “Non-surgeons are now getting involved in the industry and because financial rewards in the cosmetic surgery field are potentially so great, practices are being abused.

Plans to introduce minimum training requirements for surgeons are also under discussion, which many view as a positive step. The proposals of psychological screening of prospective patients in order to protect the vulnerable, a register for all devices (surgical implants) used in procedures, including breast implants, and tighter regulation of anti-ageing dermal fillers would also help to answer the concerns of many regarding ethical practices within the industry.

Sir Bruce explained his reasons for wishing to undertake this comprehensive review: "I think that there are some very good parts of the cosmetic intervention and surgery industry but there are also some pretty grubby areas. There are some pretty hard sales techniques out there... where if you decide to have it quickly you get a discount. I think that's scandalous."

Paul Banwell comments on cheap cosmetic surgery deals, “You have to pay for experience, quality and backup.  Members of BAAPS and BAPRAS work in established hospitals with strict criteria in terms of staff, patient care and follow-up. You get what you pay for.”

In deciding to take action, Sir Bruce has won further support from many who have watched the industry develop over the years and all the consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeons at SaferCosmeticSurgery.co.uk wholeheartedly welcome these important steps towards genuinely making cosmetic surgery within the UK safer for all.

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We have all seen the photos. The many thousands of people, mainly women, demanding redress having become the victims of disastrous cosmetic surgery. All are deserving of our sympathy as they underwent the procedures in good faith, but worryingly their stories do not seem to deter the few who still think that the 'cut-price deal' is a good idea.

There is an alarming trend, particularly in the US, for women to have 'lunch-hour' facelifts, procedures offered at discounted prices to lure in patients who are on a budget. This trend is not one that any sensible person wishes to see spreading on this side of the Atlantic. As one US surgeon, appalled by the way that patients are risking their health, life and appearance for a 'bargain', put it:

"Basing this type of decision, which can have lifelong repercussions, on an advertising campaign that promises low prices can be incredibly risky."

A real, experienced and qualified, plastic surgeon leads the patient on a medically-guided journey, not to be undertaken lightly, that most often results in a very pleasing alteration in one's appearance. They will hold at least one consultation beforehand, discuss the risks and know how to minimise them, as well as oversee the aftercare. What they will never do is offer 50% off for a 'quickie facelift' that is carried out in your lunch break!

Many of these 'bargain' facelifts are also carried out by surgeons abroad. They may offer 'plastic surgery holidays' with 'up to 70% off', which often turn out to be even more unsafe than they sound. Your break in the sun may result in heavy scarring and other terrible results, far from what you were promised but with no means of pursuing the surgeon responsible. At this point, the huge discounts never seem like such a bargain.

If you are considering a facelift, please do not ever use anyone who is not registered with the General Medical Council and are a member of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS. It will be a genuine cosmetic surgeon's expertise, painstaking skills and diligent aftercare that turns out to be the really excellent deal.

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When considering breast surgery, many potential patients have come up against the tricky problem – ‘But what will they actually look like on me?’

It is this issue of being unable to picture the final results that has proven a persistent barrier for a significant proportion of women. This is one of the main reasons why only a small percentage of those who think about breast augmentations actually go on to have surgery.

However, all that is rapidly changing. Thanks to fantastic technological advances from U.S. imaging companies, it is possible for potential patients to view post-operative simulations of their bodies using the VECTRA® 3D imaging system. In other words, it is possible to remain as ‘before’ whilst you see a clear image of the ‘after’.

The VECTRA® 3D imaging system has been designed to show potential patients all possible outcomes of their breast augmentation surgery. A three-dimensional image is created, then women can choose different cup sizes to view. They can see how each size will look on their body – there is even virtual clothing so that they can see how, for example, a bikini would look after surgery.

This 3D imaging application is a fantastic asset within cosmetic surgery. It essentially removes unnecessary concerns and doubts from would-be patients who are unsure what to expect, whilst at the same time giving them realistic expectations. It may also prevent corrective surgery for unhappy patients as the right individual choice can be made each time. This can only be a positive boost to patient care, since the women who are given the opportunity to use the 3D imaging are essentially able to make an even more informed decision about their cosmetic surgery.

As technology develops, expect to see a growing number of systems being more commonly used by surgeons in the U.K., where it has already proven popular with those who appreciate the value of such state-of-the-art tools. It is a way of improving patient confidence and satisfaction, hence the need to spread the word about the increasingly widespread availability of Vectra in the UK.

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In a fantastic bid to limit the number of people undergoing unsafe cosmetic surgery, a UK University has decided to launch a hands-on course to provide qualified surgeons with additional knowledge and expertise.

This move by British higher education recognises the specialist skills needed to perform cosmetic surgery procedures and the concern with increasing numbers of Brits using unqualified surgeons. This course may have been set up following the recent PIP breast implant scandal, which greatly increased awareness of the need to only undertake surgery if you are sure you are in safe hands.

As the number of cosmetic surgery procedures undergone in Britain increase and more complicated operations are conceived, it’s no wonder that there is a need for more specialist training and it’s great to see that a British University has decided to take matters into their own hands and offer a practical course.

The course is being offered by Anglia Ruskin University and it is hoped that as well as improving surgeons skills, it will also help to raise public awareness and push members of the public to find qualified surgeons and undergo safer procedures. There are many highly experienced cosmetic surgeons the UK, such as the surgeons who are members of BAAPS and/or BAPRAS, and it’s hoped that the introduction of this new course will raise awareness to the fact that Britain is leading the way in safe cosmetic surgery. This awareness may help to deter people from travelling abroad for cheap, high-risk surgery.

This course comes of the back of another course targeted at cosmetic surgeons. In 2010, Lincoln University created an art class, aimed to help surgeons form a sense of perspective and knowledge of the human form through sculpture classes and drawing. Whilst this course is less technical it offers surgeons the ability to improve a different range of skills. Its aim is to improve surgeons’ perceptual skills, thus enabling them to really tailor each procedure to the individual.

Both courses are great examples of why Britain is gaining a fantastic reputation as having one of the safest and most advanced cosmetic surgery offerings. We look forward to seeing which other educational establishments join this growing trend, and the types of courses and activities that they come up with.

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Plastic surgery used to be seen as an activity undertaken by women and perhaps a few high profile celebrity men, but this is becoming less and less true. Increasingly men from all walks of life are opting for cosmetic surgery to improve their looks and confidence. There are many popular cosmetic surgery procedures for men and these include: facelifts, ear surgery and liposuction. In the UK, in 2011, nearly 4000 men underwent cosmetic surgery (figure from BAAPS). The variety of operations for men also continues to grow with some more extreme procedures becoming available. One example is ‘Leg Lengthening’ surgery, which involves breaking the leg bones and therefore a very painful recovery period. 

So why are men opting for plastic surgery?

There are many reasons why more and more men are choosing cosmetic surgery. As techniques become more advanced, men feel more confident that they can get the results that they want. Furthermore, as more women choose cosmetic surgery, their boyfriends and husbands see the positive affects and are choosing to follow suit.

Successful men often struggle to fit physical exercise into their daily regimes and cosmetic surgery offers them the chance to quickly get their bodies back in to shape. One of the most popular male cosmetic surgery procedures is the "moob job" or male breast reduction. The rise in male celebrity cosmetic surgery also creates a notion that successful men must look good. This has a knock on affect on the male population who feel that improving their looks could improve their career and general success in life. The rise in male celebrities undergoing treatment also shows men that it isn’t a purely feminine activity and that the results can be really impressive.

One concern with this increasing trend is that men may still feel nervous about discussing their surgery and asking for information. Many cosmetic surgery guidelines are targeted towards women, which means that men might struggle to find useful resources and information. The concern with this is that men may not be in a position to choose the safest cosmetic surgery options available to them.

It really is vital that men pro-actively research before jumping into cosmetic surgery and there are many fantastic and highly experience surgeons out their who you can go to for advice. At SaferCosmeticSurgery, we are highly qualified to offer specialist advice to men considering cosmetic surgery to ensure that any procedure undertaken is safe.

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