I lived through the years when cosmetic surgery was new and uncontrolled. This meant mistakes were common, results were unpredictable and many women were left disappointed.
Even now, not all surgeons are certificated by the British Association of Aesthetic Surgeons, and I know one whose work is mainly putting right other medics’ mistakes.
Now the General Medical Council is going for a big crackdown. And about time too. To help it do so, the GMC is advising patients to go through a checklist with a cosmetic surgeon before agreeing to go ahead with any treatment.
As tough standards for doctors carrying out cosmetic practice come into force – covering everything from fillers to facelifts – the GMC has published a guide to help potential patients receive safe, high-quality cosmetic care.
Here are some of the things it says you should keep in mind when seeing a cosmetic surgeon:
Consent – the doctor who will carry out your procedure must speak to you personally and get your consent.
Openness – don’t trust a doctor who isn’t open and honest about their skill, experience, fees and the risks involved.
Safety – make sure you check that your operation will take place in a safe and well-equipped hospital.
Experience – ask your doctor how many of your procedures they’ve done. They should have done lots and be able to tell you what it involves and how long it takes. Ask to see before and after pictures.
Time – don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Your doctor must give you enough time to make your decision.
Information – your doctor must give you clear information, including details about aftercare and who to contact if you’re worried.
Costs – your doctor must explain the costs clearly, including details of any fees for additional procedures, such as anaesthetics and overnight stay.
Professor Terence Stephenson of the GMC says: “People choosing to undergo a cosmetic procedure have the right to expect safe, high-quality care and treatment.
“While doctors offering cosmetic interventions now have tough standards they must follow, this shouldn’t deter potential patients from asking questions about any aspect of their care, treatment and support.
“The information we’re publishing reminds people of what they can expect from a doctor who carries out cosmetic procedures in the UK.
“We hope it empowers people to take more time, do more research or even walk away if they aren’t fully confident in any part of the cosmetic intervention they are being offered.” Hear, hear!