In the UK, cosmetic surgery which aims to enhance or alter the physical appearance and is not necessary medically, is performed in the private sector. This means that unlike procedures offered by the NHS, you are free to choose your own cosmetic surgeon.
This has many benefits, but it can also prove a daunting challenge. The internet can be a fantastic source of information, but how do you distinguish a good cosmetic surgeon and, even more importantly, one that will be right for you.
Here’s some steps to follow when searching for a cosmetic surgeon:
# 1. Nothing beats a personal recommendation
Speak to friends and family and find out if they have undergone a similar procedure to you and ask for their recommendations. This can be difficult in that you may not wish to discuss your plans with all and sundry and also former plastic surgery patients often do not wish to share their experiences because they are keen to keep their decision private.
Ask your surgeon if you can speak to other patients they have treated with a similar procedure to share their experiences. Most surgeons will be happy to put you in touch with patients they have treated who can give you further information on the treatment they’ve undertaken.
The internet can step in here in the form of cosmetic surgery forums where prospective and former patients can share their experiences and ask questions. Certain sites such as Realself and Sofeminine are good examples. However, it is essential that you approach these sites with caution. Sometimes a cosmetic surgery procedure does not fulfil the expectations of the patient, despite the best efforts of the surgeon.
# 2. Check your cosmetic surgeon’s qualifications
When you start researching practitioners that provide cosmetic surgery it can often be confusing to decipher what the different medical qualifications mean. The best guide is to look for the letters FRCS (Plast) after your surgeon’s name and that they are registered on the Plastic Surgery Specialist Register of the General Medical Council (GMC) [add external link] This means, like Consultant Plastic Surgeon Mr Paul Tulley, they will have undergone a lengthy specialist training of at least 8 – 10 years in the NHS in all aspects of plastic surgery, including cosmetic and a wide range of reconstructive surgery.
They should also show a strong interest in cosmetic surgery, in that they have completed a specialist fellowship in cosmetic surgery and continue to maintain knowledge of the most up-to-date techniques.
# 3. What memberships do they hold?
There are a couple of independent plastic surgery organisations in the UK and it is expected that your cosmetic surgeon is a member of at least one of these organisations. The leading plastic surgery organisations in the UK are the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). Membership of these organisations means that they are on the specialist register and annual safety audits are performed, giving you further assurance of their experience and standards.