Cosmetic surgery – the importance of doing your research
Any type of surgery has associated risks and complications and elective cosmetic surgery is no different. It is therefore vitally important that people do their research and ask the right questions before going under the knife.
We appreciate that surgical risks such a bleeding and infection are unavoidable complications that can unfortunately occur but how can the risk of more unexpected problems be minimised? Below, our specialist cosmetic claims team provides five key guidelines to help people make a more informed decision on their procedures and feel confident in receiving the best possible treatment.
- Research the surgeon – check if they are a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) specialising in plastic surgery, on the General Medical Council (GMC) specialist register, and a member of professional organisations such as BAAPS or BAPRAS.
- Research the clinic – make sure the clinic, company or hospital is registered with the Quality Care Commission (QCC) and find out about the quality of their service. Look at the clinic’s website and see if there are any testimonials from satisfied patients.
- Ensure your consultation is with your surgeon – it is important that you have the opportunity to explain your problem to the surgeon so that they can explain the different treatment options, the pros and cons of each, and recommend the most suitable, rather than just assuming that you need a specific procedure which might not be the most suitable for achieving the results you wish to achieve. A meeting with the surgeon also allows you to check whether they have experience of your chosen procedure. You can check how many procedures they have performed and what techniques they use. Ask to see photographs of the results achieved for previous patients.
- Ask lots of questions - during your consultation with the surgeon, make sure you understand exactly what results can be achieved and how long they will last. It is important to ensure that the surgeon understands your expectations and concerns and that you understand any limitations associated with the procedure to prevent unnecessary disappointment. Make sure you understand the risks and complications associated with the procedure so that you can make a fully informed decision. You should feel confident that the surgeon has adequately answered all your questions.
- Medical facilities and follow up – if you are having a general anaesthetic, check who the anaesthetist will be and if they are listed on the specialist GMC register. It is also important to check what medical facilities are available if there are complications during or after the procedure. If staying overnight, check what level of care is available out of hours. It is also important to have a clear idea of the follow up treatment and who you can talk to if you are concerned something is wrong. Lastly, check whether the clinic offers corrective treatment if things go wrong and who will be responsible for the cost of this.
Sarah Gubbins, associate solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, commented: “There are many factors to consider when contemplating cosmetic surgery but these are some of the most important. It is vital that anyone planning to have cosmetic surgery thoroughly researches the procedure, the clinic and the surgeon performing the operation to ensure they have confidence in the ability of the surgeon and the type of treatment they are receiving.
“Sadly, we see a lot of cosmetic surgery cases that have gone wrong leaving patients at best disappointed and at worst permanently disfigured and regretting their decision to go under the knife. We appreciate that procedures can go wrong, through no fault of the surgeon involved, but the cases we investigate involve serious breaches of duty and negligently performed treatments and many are caused by surgeons who do not have adequate experience. Knowledge is power and potential patients need to protect themselves as much as possible by ensuring they use a reputable surgeon, ask lots of questions and understand the associated risks of the treatment they are undergoing.”
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