Cosmetic surgery has never before been such a hot topic; the recent PIP breast implant scandal has rocked the headlines – and health – of an entire nation. From what began as a newspaper scoop on a firm using industrial silicone to manufacture breast implants, has evolved into a European medical emergency, where the French government ordered 30 000 of their female citizens to get their implants removed and caused 42 000 women in the UK to become fearful of their health due to being fitted with the potentially dangerous implants. In stark comparison to the French government, the British government isn’t ordering their removal but providing careful guidelines that removal is available on the NHS if they are worried. Questions are being asked, not only of the reason why one of the world’s biggest suppliers of breast implants – shut down in March 2011 – was using silicone designed for mattresses; but also why around 25 000 British women a year are choosing to have cosmetic breast augmentation, often on credit.
What has got me thinking – apart from decreased confidence in plastic surgery – is what is safe and what’s not. When it’s your health – and mine – at stake, we need to know our facts about undergoing cosmetic surgery before a trip to the medical negligence solicitors is in order. Simon Withey, plastic surgeon and council member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), concedes that “There is a sense that cosmetic surgery is being trivialised… Some people are as relaxed about surgery as buying clothes.”
Despite the recession, plastic surgery has shown no signs of waning. 90% of all British cosmetic procedures in 2011 were carried out on women, compared with 10% on men; breast augmentation in particular has risen by 6.2% and abdominoplasty – the male ‘tummy tuck’ – has risen by 15%. In 2008, 34 187 cosmetic surgery procedures were carried out on both men and women; this is a stark contrast to 43 069 in 2011.
Before you have surgery, equip yourself with a checklist.
- Don’t choose your surgeon based on price; there is often a valid – and potentially dangerous – reason why they are cheaper.
- Make sure your surgeon is registered with the General Medical Council; without this, your surgeon would not be able to work in the NHS.
- Check the letters after their name; Only FRCS (Plast) is the hallmark of a specialist plastic surgeon.
- Make sure your surgeon is registered with one or both of the professional UK bodies of plastic surgeons; the two organisations are BAAPS and the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS)
- Make sure your surgeon’s clinic or hospital is registered with the appropriate body; Care Quality Commission (England), Care Inspectorate (Scotland), Healthcare Inspectorate (Wales) and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland).
What are the signs of a good plastic surgeon?
A good surgeon would never push you into signing up for a cosmetic procedure after your first consultation; they will always insist on a ‘cooling-off’ period between your initial consultation and your next meeting. They will also investigate your reasons for wanting the surgery and whether your goals are realistic and achievable; honesty is a quality valued by good plastic surgeons, if they don’t think you should have the surgery, they will tell you frankly. They will also run you through the procedure and post-op step-by-step.
After all is said and done, what is the post-operative stage?
It is imperative that you and your surgeon discuss what happens post-op, as each surgeon and clinic have their own ethics and codes regarding aftercare. If your surgeon won’t discuss these, then don’t have the procedure. You should ask what is included in the price, how long you will be in hospital for, what follow-up appointments are included and what happens if you’re unhappy with the results.
Hopefully this post has been of some use if you’re considering plastic surgery but please ask yourself the appropriate questions – both practical, legal and emotional – before you embark on any procedure. Have a serious and honest conversation with yourself.
Have you considered undergoing cosmetic surgery prior to the PIP scandal? Has this article raised any questions regarding plastic surgery for you?
This article was written on behalf of Hughes Carlisle personal injury solicitors.