Cosmetic Surgery Buyers Guide

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Published on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 09:35
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Choose Wisely: Choose V.I.P

Once you have decided that you want to have cosmetic surgery, there are a huge number of clinics and surgeons to choose from and making the right choice can be challenging and often confusing.

Cosmetic surgery is a lucrative business and this attracts business people who are keen to have a capitalise on the market. Typically, such business people invest heavily in marketing campaigns in glossy magazines and pay for sponsored links on internet search engines. However, they may invest less into the quality of the surgeon or the materials used. Responding to these adverts results in you being put in contact with patient co-ordinators who are sales people and may not be medically qualified.  These people are incentivised to encourage you to have surgery and you may feel pressurised to proceed by tactics such as offering you special discount offers to have surgery done before a certain time period, or paying a non-refundable deposit to secure an operation date.

You will then see your surgeon, who very often would have been trained overseas, where the training may not be as thorough and the standards may not be as high as those for plastic surgery training in the UK.  Alternatively, they may not even be trained in plastic surgery at all, as doctors from as broad a background as general surgery, dermatology and GPs can call themselves ‘cosmetic surgeons’.  If you surgeon holds or has held a consultant post in the NHS in plastic surgery, you can be reassured that they are fully trained, however, this is all too often not the case.

As well as the training of the surgeon, it is also the aftercare that may be compromised.  Often, your surgeon will not be available to provide personal support after your surgery and you will be seen postoperatively by a nurse. Furthermore, these doctors are poorly remunerated by the ‘clinics’ and are paid on a ‘piece-work’ basis resulting in a high turnover of surgeons.  This means that you may not see the same surgeon who performed your procedure if you go back with a problem or return for a further procedure.

A further disadvantage of not employing fully qualified, accredited surgeons is that these doctors are unable to practise in recognised, established private hospitals. Thus many clinics advertise national coverage, but only have one or two facilities where their surgeons can undertake surgery. This may mean that you will be in hospital many miles from home making it difficult for family members to visit.  Furthermore, if you need any revision surgery, no matter how minor, you will need to travel again. Price is a further, important consideration. Certain clinics will feature an attractive ‘headline price’, but further exploration reveals that this price is achieved by using poor quality breast implants or equipment. A recent example of this, causing significant problems is the PIP breast implants, used widely by certain clinics, and almost never by ‘recognised’ surgeons. If you wish to receive good quality implants, then the price is significantly higher.

Situations where you should beware……
  • If your initial consultation is with anyone other than your proposed surgeon
  • If you are unable to find your surgeon on the BAAPS or BAPRAS website
  • If the hospital you will be operated on is not a local private hospital
  • If you feel you are being pressurised or coerced into having surgery
  • If you are told that you will receive a discount on the price of your surgery if you book before a certain date
  • If you are told your follow up will be by anyone other than your original surgeon.