Changing your appearance with plastic surgery is a choice that should not be undertaken lightly.
When your wellbeing and safety is on the line, it’s important to put the same care and consideration into your choice of a surgeon that you would for any other medical procedure.
Unfortunately, finding a great surgeon isn't always easy. Any doctor could, in theory, use the title plastic surgeon even if they lack any specific training and are not technically qualified to perform cosmetic surgery procedures. This is a somewhat scary thought and goes to show that you can’t believe everything you hear or read.
This proves being informed is a huge part of having a great plastic surgery experience, and this includes knowing how to tell if a surgeon is a qualified professional with the skills to give you the results you want, safely. The first way to sort the good surgeons from the potentially not so good is by asking about their membership status to BAAPS or BAPRAS.
To help you along your way, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about these organizations. We hope these help shed some light on what these organizations are and the role they can have in your plastic surgery journey.
Who are BAAPS and BAPRAS?
BAPRAS prides itself on providing accurate patient information to educate the public, so they’re able to make the best choices when it comes to their health and cosmetic surgery. BAPRAS offers medical professionals information, updates on essential research, and training. They also often help to shape industry guidelines.
Members must be registered on the Specialist Register of Plastic Surgery of the GMC as a plastic surgeon and hold a Certificate of Completion of Training or CESR in Plastic Surgery in the UK. They must also pay a fee, depending on the level of membership they’re applying for.
BAAPS is a similar organisation dedicated to educating the public, supporting surgeons, raising awareness, and encouraging the development and advancement of the field of cosmetic surgery.
Those who have a BAAPS membership need to have demonstrated superior training, a commitment to ongoing professional development and a pledge to practice with ethics and integrity. BAAPS represents most NHS-trained Plastic Surgeons in private practice.
What is the difference between the two?
Any surgeon performing cosmetic procedures must have an FCRS (Plast) qualification to join BAAPS. This qualification requires a peer-review of their training and experience. Two current members also need to vouch for them to be considered.
In addition, the organization verifies that the surgeon is registered on the Specialist Register in Plastic Surgery held by the General Medical Council. Because BAAPS maintains high standards for its membership, you can be assured that a member is fully qualified to perform the surgeries they claim they can.
A surgeon could alternatively belong to the very similar BAPRAS. Both BAAPS and BAPRAS enjoy endorsement by the Royal College of Surgeons and, though they’re a little different, both offer some guarantee of their members’ training, expertise and ethics.
Why are BAAPS and BAPRAS always mentioned together?
BAAPS and BAPRAS have slightly different histories and focus on different areas of research and development, however, in essence, their main aims are aligned.
In addition, all members of BAAPS are also currently registered members of BAPRAS. Surgeons who take their practice seriously will naturally seek to gain membership with both organizations, although you may very occasionally see a highly qualified surgeon with just one membership.
What does a full membership entail in either organisation?
Membership with both organisations falls across different levels. These different levels of membership vary according to how much training a surgeon has received, how long they have served and in what capacity, and what membership fee has been paid. Specifically, the BAPRAS website states that a full member must be on the Specialist Register as a plastic surgeon. For BAAPS, a surgeon must have held or currently hold a "substantive post" within the NHS, or have been a provisional BAAPS member for at least two years.
In either case, surgeons applying for a full membership need a certificate showing they have completed training as a plastic surgeon, and other factors including their history of practice and recommendations from other members are considered during the approval process.
With the obvious exception of categories such as “trainee” or “honorary member”, you can trust that membership guarantees a degree of expertise, regardless of the membership fee paid. If in doubt, ask your surgeon to clarify for you directly what their membership signifies.
How do I find out if my surgeon is a BAAPS/BAPRAS member?
There are three ways. The first and most obvious is to ask your surgeon directly – they should have no reason to hide this information and will be happy to supply you with evidence of their qualifications and any registries and boards they belong to.
Alternatively, you can check the BAAPS or BAPRAS websites directly. Both have full databases that can be searched according to region, speciality, and surgeon name. Be cautious if you don’t find your surgeon’s name on these directories, especially if claims have been made otherwise.
Are BAAPS and BAPRAS memberships important when looking for a cosmetic surgeon?
Though elective surgery (meaning it is not medically necessary), plastic surgery is still surgery and carries all the same risks and considerations as any other major medical procedure.
Overall, a surgeon’s membership to BAAPS/BAPRAS offers you some assurance that they are a medical professional you can trust. Surgeons registered with either or both bodies are professional specialists in plastic surgery. This means they can sometimes charge patients for a consultation. However, if you choose to book a consultation with a Medbelle surgeon, this fee is waved.
While you’re already on the right track when you book with Medbelle (we only work with surgeons that are BAAPS/BAPRAS members with at least 10 years of plastic surgery experience and a spotless performance record) it’s always a good idea to do your own independent research into any surgeon you may be considering.
It’s the opinion of the General Medical Council that patients should always consult first with their GP or another medical consultant. Consulting your GP and asking their thoughts on the surgery you want as well as the surgeon you’re considering is a great idea. After all, your GP has a strong idea of your overall health status and can base their opinions on expert medical knowledge.
If necessary, your GP can also share essential medical history with the surgeon to ensure they have everything they need to provide you with a safe surgery.