Too much cosmetic surgery choice

I’m considering having cosmetic surgery, so I decided to do a Google search of surgeons in my area, but there seem to be so many I don’t know where to start! How do I choose one?

This is a common problem in this age where information is so readily available through the internet – when you search online for surgeons or clinics, the number of results can be overwhelming and the temptation is to just go for the first one that comes up.

Remember, however, that the surgeon you choose will be responsible for making a lasting change to your body, and to a certain extent for the period that you are on the operating table, your life is in his/her hands. For this reason, among many others, it is important that you make an informed choice. Here are some things to look out for.

#1 Professional qualifications

This is an important one to look out for. There has been a big crackdown in this area lately, but unfortunately there are still some people advertising themselves as cosmetic surgeons who have little or no formal surgical training.

I wrote a blog post last month about the qualifications to look out for. The most important one to look for is “FRCS”, or ideally “FRCS (plast)”. The former means that s/he has passed all the exams to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, the latter that s/he has passed the exams to specialise in plastic surgery.

#2 Membership of professional associations

Again, I covered this in last month’s post, but some professional associations s/he might be a member of include BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) and BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons).

There are many other professional associations out there – if you see one mentioned on a surgeon’s website that you don’t recognise, it’s a good idea to Google it to find out a bit more.

#3 Before and after photographs

This is another important thing to look out for– most surgeons will have a number of before and after photographs of former patients on their website that they can use to showcase their work. Make sure there are before and after photographs depicting the particular procedure you are interested in, and that you feel the results are of a high quality.

#4 Pick more than one

If you’re feeling torn between two or more surgeons from an online search, don’t worry: go and see both of them. In fact, you should always go and have a consultation with at least two surgeons, ideally three. There are many reasons for this, but not least is that it is important that you feel comfortable with the surgeon who performs your operation.

Surgery abroad – what are the dangers?

Cosmetic surgery abroad has become more and more popular in recent years, as companies offer tempting offers, promising low cost surgery and a holiday in the sun to boot.

So are these offers all they are cracked up to be, or could there be some potential problems lurking beneath the “sun, sea, sand and surgery” veneer?

Who is operating?

One key consideration you should take into account before booking a cosmetic surgery “holiday” is this: who will be performing your surgery? It is important to meet your surgeon for a thorough consultation before undergoing any operation – cosmetic or otherwise – and you should insist that you meet your surgeon in this country before agreeing to fly abroad for surgery.

Where are they operating?

It goes without saying that any clinic where surgical procedures are performed (or even injectables like Botox and dermal fillers) needs to be clean and safe. A photograph in a glossy brochure might not represent reality, and you should be prepared to refuse the surgery should the operating room not be up to standard.

What are the risks of travelling post cosmetic surgery?

When you are recuperating from surgery, you are at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism. Flying also increases the risk of developing either of these conditions, so flying post surgery puts you at an especially high risk.

You should always wait at least five to seven days before flying after surgery, so if the clinic suggests flying home sooner than this, you might want to consider whether they have your best interests at heart.

Why is cosmetic surgery cheaper abroad?

In the United Kingdom, surgeons pay a lot of money on insurance, so that in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, it can be rectified quickly and without additional charge. A lot of money also goes on ensuring that the operating room is kept clinically clean, and on additional operating staff, including the anaesthetist, who is on hand to monitor the patient’s wellbeing during and after surgery.

In the UK, you are also paying for aftercare, and for any potential consultations with your surgeon after surgery has taken place, to deal with any concerns you may have.

It is worth considering whether all these things are covered in the cost of your cosmetic surgery abroad.

Thinking about cosmetic surgery?

Many of us would like to make some changes to ourselves physically – whether it be to turn back the clock or enhance what we’ve got. Cosmetic surgery can help with that, but how do you know whether it’s right for you?

Here are some key things to consider before you decide whether to go ahead with cosmetic surgery:

What do you want to achieve from cosmetic surgery?

Think about what it is you want to change about yourself. Do you want bigger breasts? Do you want to look younger? Consider whether the changes you want to make are realistic; if what you want is to look like Angelina Jolie, then it is highly likely that no amount of surgery is going to achieve that. If, however, you want to look the way you used to ten years ago, then a facelift might be a good option.

What are the alternatives to cosmetic surgery?

The decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly – don’t be fooled by the word “cosmetic”, this is still major surgery and should be treated as such. Think about whether there are any alternatives to surgery that you could consider.

If you’re thinking about liposuction or a tummy tuck, for example, then a strict diet and exercise regime is a good place to start (most surgeons will insist on this before they operate, anyway). For facial rejuvenation, some things can be treated with non-surgical treatments like Botox and fillers.

If, however, you decide that surgery is the best option for you, then it is very important that you…

Do your homework

Research potential surgeons in your area, make sure you are happy with their qualifications and experience in the specific surgery you are looking for, then consult with at least two – ideally three – surgeons before picking one to perform your operation.

Cosmetic surgery can be an incredibly positive, life-changing experience, but it is not something to leap into. If you follow the advice above, you should be able to ensure that your own experience is a happy one.

What is the advantage of an overnight stay in hospital, versus day-case surgery?

This is an interesting question and to a large extent the answer depends on the individual. These days some people prefer to be able to go home on the day of their surgery in order to relax in the comfort of their own home. Many, however, prefer the security of an overnight stay in hospital, where they know a medical professional will be on hand if they have any problems.

There are cosmetic surgeons who offer quite complex surgical procedures as day cases. Personally, I prefer to be able to monitor my patients overnight after surgery, to ensure that they are recovering well and are physically fit to return home the next day.

When is an overnight stay appropriate?

Generally, if your surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, you will be expected to spend a night in hospital. This is so that we can ensure that you have fully recovered from the effects of the anaesthetic before returning home, but it also allows the surgical team to keep an eye on how you are healing after the surgery.

In my cosmetic surgery practice, facelift and breast augmentation patients generally spend a night in hospital after surgery, as these procedures are performed under general anaesthetic.

When is day-case surgery appropriate?

As mentioned above, there are surgeons who will offer almost any cosmetic surgery procedure as a day case. In my practice, I prefer patients to spend a night in hospital for monitoring. If a patient has a non-surgical procedure, such as Botox or dermal fillers, then of course they can return home immediately after the treatment.

If your procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, then the effects of the anaesthesia will not last so long and you could, if your surgeon agrees, return home on the day of surgery.