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HOW TO CHOOSE A COSMETIC SURGEON
If you decide to seek advice about cosmetic surgery, choosing your surgeon is probably the most important decision that you will make.
BAAPS surgeon? BAPRAS surgeon?
The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) advises that you first decide what kind of surgeon and clinic you are looking for. Are they safe? Do they have a good track record?
A good person to ask is your GP. He or she will already know of local surgeons and surgeries, and should be able to give you some good, impartial advice. Don’t worry about what he’ll think of you, or whether you’ll be wasting his time; plastic surgery is a commonplace event these days, and most doctors are quite up-to-date on what’s available. Besides, if you involve him at this stage, he’ll be able to support you through the surgery.
Personal recommendation is another good source of information, but don’t rely entirely on your friends’ experience – check it all out for yourself first, before signing on the dotted line. People have different needs and wishes – and that includes surgeons!
Trust your instincts
Make sure you feel that your surgeon is well trained, well-informed, up-to-date with all the latest procedures and – most important of all – are they as concerned about your safety and care as you are. Click on the DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST on the right of this page to download a useful list of questions to ask at your cosmetic surgery consultation
GMC Specialist Register
The General Medical Council (GMC) holds a register of approved plastic surgeons, which you can check online. Reassuringly, all those on the list will have been thoroughly checked and all hold (or have held) NHS consultant posts in their specialist areas.
Many surgeons will proudly display their membership of specialist organisations such as the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). Their members are all fully trained in plastic surgery, and their websites, www.bapras.org.uk and www.baaps.co.uk are sources of useful information. There are a number of other specialist associations, based both in the UK and abroad. If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask how long the association has been running and about the membership criteria in terms of training and experience. Some associations do not restrict entry based on training or experience.
Before booking an appointment, research your surgeon online to find information about their training, accreditation and qualification. This website has a checklist of questions that may help you during the consultation. At your first appointment, it’s a good idea to ask how often the cosmetic surgeon has performed the surgical procedure you’re looking for. You may like to take a friend with you; it’s good to share initial impressions as they might pick up something you’ve missed. After you’ve seen a cosmetic surgeon, ideally they should write to your GP – unless you ask them not to – and lay out a plan for your treatment in the letter. You can ask for a copy of this, it could help you discuss your surgery with a friend, your family or your doctor.
Now what about the clinic: is it local? Things do not always go according to plan and you don’t want to keep travelling long distances for repeated after-care appointments. This is particularly important if you are thinking about surgery abroad. Have a look around. Any good clinic will be happy to show you round, explain the after-care arrangements, and just to be absolutely sure you can check out data on its performance and quality via the Independent Care Quality Commission website.
A second opinion
Don’t be afraid to check out more than one surgeon or clinic. It’s really important that you feel you have made the right choice, and are confident that you will not only be looked after properly, but also be pleased with the end result. The cost of an additional consultation is very small compared to the overall cost of an operation.
Here’s a checklist of all the points mentioned above:
- Identifying a surgeon:
- GP recommendation
- Word-of-mouth recommendation
- Check out the surgeon’s qualifications:
- On the GMC specialist register?
- Member of specialist organisation e.g. BAPRAS, BAAPS?
- Experience in field?
- How many procedures performed per year?
- NHS post in appropriate speciality?
- Check out the clinic – what to look for:
- Wide range of surgical specialities?
- Resident doctors every night?
- Infection rate with MRSA or other superbugs?
- Ask to look around the facility
- Is aftercare provided locally?
For further information, contact:
British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, www.bapras.org.uk British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), www.baaps.co.uk
Use the BAPRAS/ BAAPS surgeon search box on the right of this page to locate a surgeon nearest you