By Michael Saul, Partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors
If you have made the decision to have a cosmetic procedure, finding the right surgeon will likely be your next port of call. Cases of cosmetic surgeons’ misconduct and people becoming victims of poor cosmetic surgery techniques are all too common, so it is vital you know how to choose a safe cosmetic surgeon.
However, finding the right cosmetic surgeon can be difficult. Inexperienced, unqualified or uncaring surgeons can cause long-lasting or even permanent damage to your body.
So how do you know who to trust, where to look and what to watch out for?
To help simplify the decision process, below is a guide to making the right choice.
Be clear with your goal
Before deciding whether you would wish for a cosmetic procedure and the type of surgery this requires, it is important that you outline your objectives and whether they are achievable and healthy. To be able to answer those questions you should be asking yourself the following questions:
What prompted your interest in cosmetic surgery? Be honest about your motivations.
- Have you spoken with a counsellor about your motivations? Issues of low self-esteem or negative self-image may be better suited to treatment from a counsellor or therapist.
- Have you investigated non-surgical alternatives?
- What do you want your operation to achieve?
- Are you being realistic and precise with your expectations?
- Have you spoken with anyone who has already undergone the procedure?
Once you have decided that surgery is the best and healthiest option for you moving forward, then you can begin the process of finding the right surgeon for you.
Be prepared to pay
Once you have decided to move forward with your surgery, you will need to be realistic about the costs associated. The best possible treatment requires the best surgeons, and that means paying top prices. Patients often get enticed by deals that might seem good value initially but can often end up costing dearly when the outcome causes complications.
You should always avoid:
- No-fee or free consultations. Your surgeon’s time is valuable, if they are giving it away for free then make sure to ask why.
- Cheap surgery abroad. This may sound like a good idea, but can often end up costing more in the long run.
- Too-good-to-be-true offers. Be wary of loyalty card schemes, a buy-one-get-one-free offer, easy finance terms or other financial incentives.
A great way to work out which surgeons might be right for you is to talk to people who have either first-hand or substantiated knowledge of the processes associated with the procedure you seek. It is important to speak to friends and family members who have undergone the procedure. Asking your GP for trusted local surgeons or clinics is also an important step as well as conducting research on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) specialist register so that you can meet with several surgeons before making your decision.
Check for qualifications
Once you have made the decision to have a meeting, it is important to look for the requisite qualifications to make sure you are in safe hands. You should be looking for surgeons who are:
- Working for the NHS.
- Registered with the General Medical Council (GMC).
- Listed on the GMC’s specialist register in the area of practice relevant to your procedure.
- A member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons or the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAAPS or BAPRAS).
- An expert in the part of the body you want operated on. A good way to check this is to make sure that they have been added to the Specialist Register which indicates that they are experts in their field.
In the meeting with the surgeon you should make sure to ask the following:
- What happens during the procedure – before, during and after?
- Will the results of the procedure match your expectations?
- How many times has your surgeon performed this operation in total? In the past year?
- What are the possible risks, side effects and problems?
- What is the aftercare and recovery time?
- What happens if something goes wrong or you’re not satisfied with the result?
- How much will the surgery cost, including aftercare or any follow-up treatments?
- Is your surgeon insured to perform cosmetic surgery in the UK?
- Is your surgeon aware of any and all medical conditions you have or medications you’re taking?
- Are you consulting with the person who will perform your procedure?
Things to think about
You should then take the time to go through an in-depth thought process to determine whether the surgeon is right for you.
- Have you taken at least two weeks ‘cooling off’ time before committing to surgery?
- Have you thought through the practical considerations of who will look after you and how you will get home after the operation?
- Did the surgeon fully answer all your questions to your satisfaction?
- Did you consult with a surgical consultant, patient care coordinator or clinic manager (who often have no medical training)?
- Was your surgeon vague about the outcome of the operation?
- Did your surgeon rush through your appointment?
- Did your surgeon claim they could perform an outcome that no other surgeon could claim to be able to deliver?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions in Step 2, consider finding another surgeon. It is so important to take your time before you commit to any surgical or non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The impact of surgery can be permanent and resisting the urge to undertake a procedure until you have completed all your research and considered all your options is imperative to making sure you are as safe as possible.
If you have fallen foul of cosmetic procedures gone wrong, it is vital that you speak to a cosmetic surgery solicitor as soon as possible to get the assistance you need.