Plastic surgery, once the domain of the rich and famous, has become much more affordable and accessible in recent years. It can help you fight the signs of aging, increase your confidence by correcting physical abnormalities and provide relief from discomfort or pain.
However, given the permanent nature of plastic surgery and the fact that is often done on very obvious areas of the body such as the face, nose, or ears, it’s vitally important that it’s done correctly by an expert, professional surgeon. So how do you go about choosing a plastic surgeon, and what should you look for to reassure yourself that you are in safe hands?
This article on how to choose a plastic surgeon is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What qualifications to look for?
Plastic surgeons in the UK should all be listed on the General Medical Council’s specialist register of Plastic Surgeons. You can check this on their website at www.gmc-uk.org. They should also be a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, denoted by the letters FRCS (plast) after their name. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is a highly regarded organisation with very strict membership conditions. The letters BAAPS after your surgeon’s name are therefore a strong recommendation. If your surgeon also works for the NHS as a consultant, this also indicates a high standard of competency and experience. Unless your surgeon can provide at least some of these qualifications, you should think twice before arranging treatment.
How to search for a plastic surgeon?
Although you don’t have to consult your GP before seeking plastic surgery, it is worth doing so. Not only will they be able to advise you on any health issues that may impact your treatment, they will also know a great deal about local plastic surgeons, and will be able to suggest one who specialises in your particular field, and who has a good reputation. For all the qualifications, word-of-mouth recommendation from a fellow medical professional is invaluable.
If you cannot get a recommendation from your GP, or from a friend who’s had similar treatment, you can find plastic surgeons online and in local directories. However, you should avoid plastic surgery clinics that advertise aggressively. In this field, you get what you pay for, and although you will want to find the best value for money clinics who lead with special offers and limited time discounts clearly do not have your personal wellbeing as their top priority.
Meeting your plastic surgeon
You should always meet with your surgeon in person before your plastic surgery. This is essential for reassurance that they understand your aspirations, and that you have a realistic expectation of the outcome. You will often need a full consultation before you’re given a definitive price. Do not be afraid to ask questions at this stage; plastic surgeons will be happy to answer to put your mind at ease. This is your opportunity to reassure yourself that your plastic surgeon is competent and experienced in the procedure they’re about to perform. They will not be offended.
It can help to write down a list of questions before you attend, to make sure you don’t forget anything. The Department of Health provides a list of suggested questions online to get you started. You’ll find these here.
Things to look out for when choosing
There are certain things to avoid when choosing a plastic surgeon. As discussed earlier, you should avoid surgeons who offer discounts and special offers. You get what you pay for and these savings will be made somewhere along the line, often at your expense. If you feel any sales pressure during your consultation you should simply walk away. Quality plastic surgeons will be busy enough and should not need to tout for work.
Look for experience too. Naturally everyone has to start somewhere, and longer service doesn’t automatically mean better quality, but, if you have the choice, go for experience and reputation every time.
Finally, trust your instincts. You are putting yourself completely in the hands of your surgeon, often under general anaesthetic, so you must trust them implicitly. If you have any doubts or something just doesn’t feel right, even if you can’t say specifically what that is, then move on to somewhere else. It is simply not worth the worry.
Making your final decision
Plastic surgery should be a considered decision. You will have to live with the results for the rest of your life so it’s worth taking a few weeks to thoroughly check out your options before choosing your plastic surgeon. Never make an on-the-spot decision and never let yourself compromise on quality to save a few pounds.
Find a plastic surgeon who is qualified, competent, and caring, and you are far more likely to have a positive experience and end up with the results you really want.