Plastic Surgery: 5 First Steps
Considering cosmetic surgery but need to learn more? We break down 5 sensible first steps to start you on your journey.
Written by Medical Quality Manager, Clare , BN (Hons)
Published: Thursday, 3 March 2022
It’s understandable that with such a life-changing decision you’d want to take your time to ensure you’re choosing the right surgery and for the right reasons. If you’re just starting down the path, you may be overwhelmed by the options available. Here we consider a few key tips to doing your research before taking the plunge.
Step 1: Start Online
Curiosity may have already led you to the countless plastic surgery websites, health sites or forums where patients share their stories and questions.
Whether it’s the NHS and web pages of cosmetic surgery clinics, or Facebook and review groups, you can get a good idea of a particular procedure and what kind of results you can expect. Be careful, however, to stick with reputable & verifiable sources.
Too-good-to-be-true stories could merely be disguised advertising for dubious clinics. On the other hand, overly sensationalised tales of “botched” surgeries may scare you needlessly. Try to understand the facts of the procedure you’re interested in, and seek out stories from patients who are similar to you in body type, age, and health who have results similar to your desired outcome. Keeping these factors in mind should set you up for success.
Step 2: Ask Friends and Family
People in your immediate social circle can give you an honest opinion about their experience, and you may even get to see their results in person. It may feel a bit awkward or strange if you've never openly spoken about cosmetic surgery with them before. However, try to keep in mind that your friends and family want the best for you and will likely be more than happy to help.
Discreetly ask around and you may be surprised to learn that a friend or family member has had surgery but simply doesn’t talk about it. They may have a recommendation for you to follow up on, and can even offer support and advice based on their own experience. Even if they have never had plastic surgery, they may know someone who has and can put you in touch with them.
Step 3: Talk to your GP
If you want to obtain a procedure through the NHS, you’ll need to chat with your doctor about how the procedure could benefit you, and why. Even if your procedure is not covered by the NHS, it’s still a good idea to talk to your GP.
Every major aesthetic surgery association (including the General Medical Council, BAAPS, and BAPRAS) all endorse consulting your primary physician before booking a cosmetic procedure. Plus, before you hesitate to ask your GP their thoughts, bear in mind that they are a trained medical professional with some level of surgical knowledge or training.
Your GP can provide you with an expert opinion based on familiarity with your personal medical history and general health status. Even if they lack any specific knowledge about cosmetic surgery, they can still advise if you’re in sound physical condition to have surgery.
They can also potentially recommend a qualified and experienced surgeon to you or help you vet a surgeon you have already found. They will likely have a much easier time navigating the appropriate medical registries to double-check the qualifications a surgeon claims. Overall, a GP is a great resource when considering plastic surgery because it can point you in the right direction as you plan and research.
Step 4: Book a Consultation
Plastic surgery is a serious and irreversible decision, but remember that you don’t have to make up your mind all at once. Consulting with a plastic surgeon gives you the chance to really find the right fit for you.
Each surgeon will have their own trademark aesthetic and speciality, their own demeanour, and their own shortcomings. Some of these aspects are difficult if not impossible to decipher via a website or over the phone, so an in-person consultation is always a great way to truly get a sense of the surgeon and how you feel about them.
The only downside is that consultations with surgeons range in price (expect to pay around £100 per consultation) so make sure you like the surgeon’s results and have vetted their qualifications before booking.
While somewhat costly, the consultation fee may seem more reasonable when you consider you are asking the professional opinion of an expert in their field. Plus, if you decide to book your procedure through a surgeon, your consultation fee is generally put towards the total cost of your surgery.
Medbelle Patient Care Advisers work hard to match you with your perfect surgeon and you receive a free surgeon consultation too. They take pride in knowing the strengths and specialities of each of our surgeons. They make sure you ultimately meet a surgeon who understands what you want and how to get you there.
Of course, however, Medbelle consultations come with no obligation. There is no pressure or judgement if you decide against a surgeon. With Medbelle, you will only be operated on by someone you absolutely believe in and trust.
Step 5: Reflect on What You’ve Learnt (Cooling-Off Period)
In the early days of your research process, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with information. The last thing you want to do is make a rash decision because of fear, pressure, excitement, or anything else. This is why Medbelle surgeons recommend a minimum of 2 weeks between your consultation and the surgery date as a cooling-off period. Taking a moment before booking a surgery day allows you to process what you’ve learned. This is why it's a good idea to sit with the decision for some time and mull things over.
Some questions to consider during this cooling-off period:
- Have all of your questions and/or concerns been answered and addressed?
- Are you feeling confident in your surgeon and how they’ll operate?
- Have you really taken the time to reflect on your reasons and motivations for having surgery?
Plastic surgery will ultimately affect you, so make sure that going ahead is what you really want, regardless of the opinions of those around you. Taking a while to think things over before committing to a surgeon and surgery also gives you the chance to sort out any financial issues, apply for financing, or make practical aftercare arrangements.
There’s plenty to think about and plan in the run-up to surgery. Thoroughly researching your options will give you time to prepare both physically, emotionally and financially.
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