First, check online that your surgeon is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC), or you can call 0845 357 3456.
"Preferably, you need to find someone with a surgical qualification, who's registered in the UK and ideally has a specialist qualification in plastic surgery," says Professor Simon Kay, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).
"It's also OK if your surgeon has a specialist qualification in an area relevant to the procedure you're having, rather than in plastic surgery. For example, in ear, nose and throat surgery, if you're having something done to your nose."
Whatever qualifications your surgeon has, you should always ask about their experience in doing the procedure you want. Ask them:
- how many times they've performed this operation in the last year
- how many times they've had to do revision surgery (additional surgery to repair or change something they've already done)
- how many patients have made complaints
A surgeon who has the letters "FRCS (Plast)" after their name is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and has passed specialist exams in plastic surgery. They're trained to carry out all kinds of cosmetic surgery.
Other narrower specialist surgical areas that would be appropriate to specific areas of cosmetic surgery are:
- FRCS (GenSurg): specialist fellowship in general surgery
- FRCS (OMFS): specialist fellowship in oral and maxillofacial surgery
- FRCS (Otol): specialist fellowship in otolaryngology (for ear, nose and throat surgery)
- FRCS (ORL): specialist fellowship in otorhinolaryngology (head and neck/facial plastic surgery)
Eye and skin specialists
Ophthalmologists (eye specialists) and dermatologists (skin specialists) might also be involved in some cosmetic procedures. The qualifications to look for are:
- FRCOphth: specialist fellowship in ophthalmology (for eye specialists)
- MRCOphth: member of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (for eye specialists)
- FRCP/MRCP: fellow/member of the Royal College of Physicians (for skin specialists)
Questions to ask your cosmetic surgeon
The Royal College of Surgeons advises that if you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery, ask a surgeon the following questions:
- How many years' experience do you have in the procedure I'm interested in? How many similar operations do you perform each week?
- Do you think that what I want to achieve from surgery is realistic?
- Could there be anything in my medical history that would affect the surgery?
- What will happen during the operation, and what anaesthetic will be used?
- How long will I stay in hospital?
- Will there be any pain or any stitches, and how long is the recovery time?
- How long will the results last?
- How much will it cost?
- Who will be doing the operation?
- What are the risks?
Article provided by NHS Choices