Be 'realistic' about what cosmetic surgery can achieve


Mr Kevin Hancock with a breast implant

Plastic surgeons have said they are worried about the number of young people who want cosmetic procedures.

The news follows a Newsbeat questionnaire, where listeners shared their views on cosmetic surgery.

More than half of respondents who had not yet had a procedure, said they would consider undergoing one.

The NHS advises that cosmetic surgery and procedures are a "major decision" and suggests that anyone considering them should talk to their GP.

If you are thinking about having a procedure done, what should you be researching?

What does the procedure involve?

Operating equipment

"Research the operation," says consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS council member, Mr Kevin Hancock.

"It's always helpful for the surgeon you're talking to if you take some pictures of either somebody you think looks great or what you would like to try to achieve," he adds.

He believes it is important to get a "realistic" idea of "what that surgery can achieve", as well as the risks and side effects of the procedure.

"Everybody should expect, as part of the consultation process, to have a discussion about complications and problems," he explains.

What is the consultation like?

Breast implants

"If you see a proper surgeon who is experienced with this kind of thing, immediately you're having a kind of psychological appraisal," says Mr Hancock.

"Most of us who do a lot of this kind of surgery say no to people on a regular basis."

He says to be careful of feeling pressured into going ahead with surgery, or additional procedures, by pushy sales people offering discounts or deals.

"If you're sitting in a commercial clinic setting, probably the first thing that's happened is your credit card has been swiped and even if it's not overt, you're going to be pressured into having something done."

How do you choose a surgeon?

Mr Kevin Hancock with a breast implant

Questions to ask your surgeon

    • How many years' experience do you have in the procedure?
    • How many similar operations do you perform each week?
    • Is what I want to achieve from surgery realistic?
    • Does my medical history affect the surgery?
    • What anaesthetic will be used?
    • How long will I stay in hospital?
    • Will there be any pain or stitches and how long is the recovery time?
    • How long will the results last?
    • How much will it cost?
    • What are the risks?
The Royal College of Surgeons

"Ideally they need a recommendation," says Mr Hancock, adding that friends and family who have used a particular surgeon may be the best place to start.

Both he and the NHS advise to first check whether the surgeon you are interested in is registered with the GMC (General Medical Council), where there are lists of people with special training in plastic surgery.

"You should be seeing and talking to the surgeon who will be operating on you.

"You don't want to see anybody else, be they sales person, nurse, assistant or marketing person," Mr Hancock adds,

Are there proper accreditations?

CQC website screengrab

"There isn't regulation. There aren't rules that control this that people can therefore feel reassured by, because actually it's the Wild West out there and there are cowboys all over the place," says Mr Hancock.

He advises against just relying on glossy advertisements or social media to find a clinic or surgeon.

"All the recognised private clinics are governed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and so the patients know that's about as good a regulation as you get," he adds.

What to do if something goes wrong?

Ruptured PIP implant compared to a normal breast implant

The NHS says that if you are unhappy with the results of your cosmetic surgery, or you think it wasn't carried out properly, you should talk to your surgeon through the hospital or clinic that referred you.

You can also get in touch with the CQC, if the clinic is registered with them.

Practitioners of non-surgical procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers do not need to be registered with the CQC so if you have an issue "it's best to take it up with the person who carried out the procedure" says the NHS.

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