Key questions to ask your surgeon

The decision to have cosmetic surgery shouldn’t be made lightly. You need to think long and hard about whether it is the right choice for you. You have to be sure that you have clear reasons for wanting cosmetic surgery, and that these have been made by you and you alone. Take time to consider your options and make sure that you have researched your chosen procedure to be certain it will improve your wellbeing and quality of life.

Once you have made a final decision, there are some critical questions to ask your Plastic Surgeon or other specialty surgeon - with the right credentials - to ensure you receive the best possible care. Follow our guide to make sure that you don’t make any compromises when it comes to choosing your surgeon.

Who will operate on me? 

Make sure you see the surgeon who will be performing your procedure right from the start and not one of their representatives. It is important you have a thorough consultation with your operating surgeon so you can talk frankly and openly about your goals and the changes you want to see to ensure the best outcome. You should expect to be a charged for a thorough first consultation for a professional opinion. Good surgeons should offer you a second consultation, at no extra cost, after you have had time to cool off and think things through. 

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit an appropriately qualified Plastic Surgeon - or other specialty surgeon - with the right credentials - who can offer a thorough consultation, giving you time to agree your goals and the changes you want to see. If a surgeon does not offer this opportunity, walk away.

What are your qualifications?

If you are thinking about cosmetic surgery, speak to your GP. Make sure that you find a surgeon who has the right qualifications and is on the appropriate specialist register with the GMC. Fully qualified Plastic Surgeons will be on the GMC Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery. (You can find the register through the GMC website here). Find out about their experience of the procedure you are considering and make sure you meet them and discuss the outcome you can expect before you commit to having something done. 

Your surgeon should provide you with a proper consultation and advice, and allow you adequate time to make an informed decision, based on the identified risks and benefits. If your surgeon is also a member of BAPRAS then they are not only listed on the GMC Specialist Register but also adhere to a further strict code of practice around quality of patient care. 

Surgeons from other surgical specialties also provide cosmetic surgery within particular anatomical specific areas of the body but, once again, you should check that they are on the GMC Specialist Register for the discipline in which they have trained, as well as checking their outcomes.

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit a Plastic Surgeon who is listed on the GMC Specialist Register or other specialty surgeon who is on the GMC Specialist Register for the discipline in which they have trained.

What are the potential risks and complications? 

There are risks with any surgical procedure. Do your homework on complications before the consultation and gauge how this matches with what you are told.  Find out what they are, how often they occur, and how they will be handled if they do occur.  If the practitioner does not volunteer this information, or underplays it, walk away. 

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit a surgeon who does not shy away from talking about the risks or potential complications for each procedure. All good surgeons should dedicate time during your initial consultation to discuss this and should be able to answer any questions you have.

What is your complication and re-operation rate? 

Ask how they measure their results, what their complication rate is and what proportion of their patients needs further corrective surgery. These are perfectly reasonable questions to ask and a good surgeon will be pleased to explain their results and experience to you.

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit a surgeon who takes time to explain how they measure patient outcome, and how many of their patients require further corrective surgery after the main procedure. 

What results can I expect and how long will they last for? 

Ask the surgeon to define subjective terms such as ‘significantly improved’. Ask the surgeon if the procedure will need to be repeated in the future to maintain the result. If you are having implants ask how long they will last and if they will need to be removed or replaced at a later date. Ask for help to understand what is covered in the cost of the procedure and what sort of things may happen in the future which would have to be paid for separately. 

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit a surgeon who can provide a full and realistic explanation of whether a procedure will require further medical attention or further costs to maintain the desired effect.

What aftercare do you provide?

Aftercare can be just as important as the surgery itself, so make sure you know who to contact and how you will be looked after and for what period, especially if there are any complications or problems following your surgery or treatment.

BAPRAS recommends... that you only visit a surgeon who can give you a detailed account of the aftercare that you are entitled to following surgery. All good surgeons and the hospitals in which they work should provide you with a clear pathway for advice and care if there are any problems. 

To download our expert guide on choosing the right surgeon, including these questions, click here.