Frequently Asked Questions
GENERAL RISKS OF SURGERY
All surgery has risks and the potential for complications. There are many factors which can affect these risks including: the overall health of the patient and the level of experience of the surgeon.
Complications can include:
- pain and discomfort
- swelling and bruising
It is important that you discuss with your surgeon what is realistically achievable before consenting to surgery. You should have follow-up appointments after surgery to monitor your recovery. If you have any concerns about your recovery such as pain, swelling or any other unexpected side effects you should speak to your GP or surgeon immediately.
FINDING A SURGEON – DO YOUR RESEARCH
Your GP is the best person to contact first. Your GP knows your medical history as well as being aware of reputable local cosmetic surgeons. It is still very important that you do your own research.
Cosmetic Surgery can be positively life changing. However, risks and complications can occur despite taking all possible precautions. This is why it is so important to have all the relevant information so you can choose a surgeon who will give you the best advice. Including, advising against surgery if you have unrealistic expectations or where the risks of surgery are outweighed by the benefits.
Your potential surgeon should be:
- On the GMC Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery
- FRCS(Plast) qualified
- Full members of BAPRAS
- UK Trained and insured
A surgeon should always recommend a ‘cooling off period’ preferably two weeks, before booking surgery to give you time to consider any advice given. Aftercare should be included in your package of care to address any complications that may arise. Never let price be the priority, your safety is more important.
Surgeons from other surgical specialities also provide cosmetic surgery within specific areas of the body. However, you should check that they are on the GMC Specialist Register for the discipline in which they have trained, as well as checking their outcomes.
To check your potential Surgeons registration status go to:
- The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) – http://www.bapras.org.uk
- General Medical Council – gmc-uk.org
Further advice about Cosmetic Surgery and finding a Surgeon can be found at:
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) – http://www.baaps.org.uk
Cosmetic Surgeons are now able to apply to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to become registered as qualified and competent to perform specific procedures.
This enables surgeons working in the independent sector to demonstrate they meet the right standards and have the right experience to perform cosmetic surgery.
THINK OVER BEFORE YOU MAKEOVER
The Think Over Before You Make Over campaign is led by BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) to address the lack of consumer awareness about how to choose safe and appropriate cosmetic surgery. It provides comprehensive advice so that if you are choosing to have surgery, you are choosing safely.
For more information visit: http://www.bapras.org.uk/public/think-over-before-you-make-over
It is vital to do your own research, but you can ask your GP to refer you to someone who is known and trusted. You need to be happy with your choice of surgeon; if a surgeon makes you anxious or uncomfortable their qualifications are immaterial.
Beware of organisations who offer discounted cosmetic treatments or who try to tie you into a surgical procedure via a non-refundable deposit. If you opt for cut-price surgery, you may pay for it later.
Always research the reputation and reviews for any company that you are considering. Some companies employ surgeons that are not UK accredited, so would not be allowed or entitled to apply for a job as an NHS Consultant Plastic Surgeon. There are cosmetic surgery companies whose surgeons are non-UK and cannot speak fluent English. For your safety always choose a Plastic Surgeon who is a full member of BAPRAS (The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons).
WHAT ARE YOUR REASONS FOR WANTING SURGERY?
Be honest with yourself about your reasons for wanting surgery. If you are feeling anxious about work, relationships or your social situation surgery may not be the answer. It may be worth considering counselling to explore any underlying issues before going ahead with surgery.
If you would like to have counselling speak to your GP who will know what is available on the NHS. You may choose to pay for your therapy privately. Your GP may be able to recommend a local private therapist or you can find a therapist online.
For more information about counselling and how to find a therapist:
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy – http://www.bacp.co.uk.
UK Council for Psychotherapy – http://members.psychotherapy.org.uk/findATherapist.
The Wright Initiative
PaPPS is an initiative that addresses the emotional, relational and psychological wellbeing of people who are considering or having elective surgical or invasive aesthetic procedures – http://www.thewrightinitiative.com/papps-initiative.
SURGEON TRAINING AND QUALIFICATIONS
To qualify as a fully accredited GMC registered plastic surgeon it is necessary to go to medical school for five years to qualify as a doctor. It then takes two years to complete basic surgical training followed by a further six years of higher surgical training in plastic surgery before being examined clinically, surgically and academically in all areas of plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery and demonstrate this by obtaining the FRCS (Plast) higher qualification, vetted and entered into the GMC Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery. Surgeons who are successful will then be able to apply for a Consultant Post in the NHS. If your surgeon is, or has been a consultant plastic surgeon in the NHS, then you can be assured that he or she is fully trained.
A surgeon can then be nominated and elected as a full member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (BAPRAS). To check whether your surgeon is on the specialist register with the GMC search the GMC website (www.gmc-uk.org) or look for the letters FRCS (Plast) after their name. In plastic surgery, there are commercial providers who have their own hospitals and so can employ surgeons who are not eligible to work in the major private hospital groups. These surgeons may not be fully trained plastic surgeons.
It is important to clarify where the surgery will take place and the facilities available. Get details of the clinic or hospital that the surgeon is recommending and check that they are fully registered with the appropriate regulatory body in your country (in England the CQC)
The Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The CQC regulate treatments that involve surgical procedures. It is a legal requirement that services who offer these types of treatments are registered with the CQC. You can also check that the hospital or clinic that you are considering is registered. If they are not they may be practising illegally and their insurance may not cover them or you if anything goes wrong. For more information go to: www.cqc.org.uk/content/choosing-cosmetic-surgery
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority
The Health Inspectorate Wales – http://www.hiw.org.uk/home
A surgeon may show you before and after photographs to show you what results may be achievable. You should check that these pictures are actually of cases he has performed. It can be helpful to speak to a patient who has had surgery. Your surgeon should be able to arrange this.
Make sure your surgeon arranges full aftercare for you following your operation. This aftercare needs to be during your stay in hospital, then afterwards with follow-up consultations and any further treatment that may be required to resolve any problems. Good aftercare is just as important as the surgery itself, and will usually be provided by the surgeon and their team. You should not be in any doubt of who to contact at any time if you have any concerns.
If you are having breast implants they will have their own aftercare arrangements or warranties. It is important to check what this covers.
To find out more about this go to:
NHS FUNDED COSMETIC SURGERY
The availability of NHS funded cosmetic surgery varies by area. If you think you may be eligible, visit your GP who will be able to advise whether this is possible. An individual funding request (IFR) can be made by your clinician (doctor or other health professional) if they believe that a particular treatment or service that is not routinely offered by the NHS is the best treatment for you, given your individual clinical circumstances. A clinician/GP will need to support your application for IFR and provide supporting evidence to a panel at the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) the organisation responsible for commissioning (buying) healthcare services. The CCG decides if particular procedures which they view as low priority can be funded.
For more information and the contact details for your local CCG go to:
More information about the availability of Cosmetic Surgery on the NHS can be found on the following websites:
Healthwatch England is the consumer champion for health and social care http://www.healthwatch.co.uk
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
Is a confidential service that provides information advice and support for patients, families and carers. Contact details for your local PALS can be found by contacting your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
PAYING FOR COSMETIC SURGERY
Cosmetic Surgery and Medical Insurance
Medical insurance will only fund cosmetic surgery if you need the surgery to treat a medical condition. For example a breast reduction if your breasts are causing you severe back or shoulder pains or breast implants if you have had to have a mastectomy. Contact your insurer to find out if your surgery would be covered.
If you are not in a position to pay for your cosmetic surgery outright the following are options that you could consider:
- Credit Cards
- Personal Loan
- Loans designed for Cosmetic Surgery
- Cosmetic Surgery Payment Plans
- Cosmetic Surgery Finance Options
Careful consideration should be given to any of these options so that you know whether you can afford the repayments. Look at your income and outgoings and think about whether you could pay your bills and debts if you became ill or lost your job. The APR (Annual Percentage Rate of charge) takes into account not just the interest on the loan but also other charges you have to pay such as an arrangement fee. You can use it to compare credit and loan offers. All lenders have to tell you what their APR is before you sign an agreement. It will vary from lender to lender.
More information about finance can be found on the following websites:
If you think that the procedure was not carried out correctly or you are not happy with the results speak to your surgeon or the hospital or clinic where you were treated. If the issue is not resolved there are a number of bodies that can advise you.
The Patients’ Association: http: www.patients-association.org.uk
Action Against Medical Accidents: www.avma.org.uk
The Independent Healthcare Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS): www.iscas.org.uk
The General Medical Council: www.gmc-uk.org
The Care Quality Commission: www.ukqcs.co.uk