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Cosmetic surgery – more practical guidance for patients

Following the guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic surgery issued by the General Medical Counsel (GMC) in April this year, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has now issued some very helpful practical guidance for cosmetic surgery patients, surely long overdue! You may have seen that this featured recently on BBC1.

Practical guidance

The practical help is contained in the patient care section of the RCS website and provides useful information about not only the types of surgery on offer but most importantly what a patient should look out for and check before embarking upon such treatment. Below are some of the examples of the advice to patients:-

  • Consider all the options (there are explanatory notes about different procedures such as eyelid and nose surgery).
  • Take time to think through your decision.
  • Consider the possibility of complications and how you would deal with them.
  • Choose the right surgeon and right hospital.
  • What to ask the surgeon at your consultation (the RCS site has a useful checklist for patients).

Clearly one of the most important decisions is choosing the right surgeon and there are a few simple steps that patients can take to reassure themselves that they will be in the hands of an experienced surgeon. First, take advice from your GP who may have a recommendation, also check that the surgeon is on the General Medical Council’s specialist register (specialising in cosmetic surgery or a particular type of cosmetic surgery). Further, you can check if the surgeon is registered with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).

Patients also need to know that they are going to a reputable and safe hospital or surgery that meets medical and ethical standards of patient care. Check therefore that the hospital or surgery is registered with the relevant regulator, in England the Care Quality Commission (CQC). A patient can look up and check the quality of the service of the hospital through the CQC website.

The overriding advice should be “Don’t rush in” and prepare carefully by doing research beforehand and asking the correct questions so that before you go under the knife you have received all the information with which to make an informed decision.