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Questions When Signing a Contract for Cosmetic Surgery

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 7 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Surgery Cosmetic Procedure Surgeon

You’ve decided to take the plunge, and you’re going to see a cosmetic surgeon for your first consultation. Of course, it’s hard not to get obsessed about the ideal new face or body that you want to create, but before you get carried away, there are some important questions that you should be asking your surgeon before you agree to anything.

About the Surgeon

You need to know that the person you are entrusting your body to for the duration of the operation is worthy of that trust. So the first things you need to find out, if you haven’t already checked, are:

  • Are you GMC registered? – The General Medical Council keeps a list of all registered medical practitioners. If the consultant who is offering to operate on you is not on the GMC’s specialist register of plastic surgeons you need to think twice.
  • Do you belong to any professional associations? There are two main professional bodies for cosmetic surgeons, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS). Both of these organisations are in place to uphold standards in cosmetic surgery.

About the Procedure

Most people would be nervous about an operation, no matter how much they might be looking forward to the results. You can allay some of your fears by asking as much as possible about the nitty gritty of the procedure before you get anywhere near the operating table. Forewarned is forearmed!

  • Where can I find out more about the procedure? The clinic may have leaflets you can take away, or there could be websites the clinic recommends, if you want to do some research of your own. Take the opportunity to find out as much as you can before you commit yourself.
  • What are the risks? There’s no such thing as risk-free surgery, but you still need to know if there are risks to the surgery that you haven’t thought of.
  • Is there a non-surgical alternative? There could be another way, like a non-surgical facelift. It’s always worth asking, even if the surgeon will probably tell you that his way is the best way...
  • Is this surgery right for me? Will breast implants suit you? Will it be possible to get the results you want? Are you expecting surgery to change your life rather than your face?
  • How long will the operation last?
  • What sort of anaesthetic will I need? Some people can’t tolerate a general anaesthetic, so it’s important to discuss anaesthesia with the clinic in advance – there may be alternatives.
  • Is it an overnight stay? You need to know whether to pack your toothbrush...
  • Will it be painful afterwards? Ask questions about how much the pain is likely to affect day to day life – how long will it be before you can drive, pick up your kids or have sex again? How long will any bruising last?
  • Will I need time off work? How long? How long do you need to tell your boss you’re ‘going on holiday’ for?

About the Contract

There will undoubtedly be a contract or agreement to sign if you decide to have surgery, and you need to know what exactly you’re paying for.

  • What is and what isn’t part of the package? Does the fee include any overnight stay? What about any aftercare? How long for? Will you have to pay for any medication after the surgery?
  • If there is a problem and I need further treatment or another operation, who pays for the fees and hospital costs? If something goes wrong after you’ve left the clinic, will you have to pay for any further surgery? You don’t want to be landed with extra costs if things don’t go as planned.

The Long Term Implications

Cosmetic surgery is something that will be with you for the long term, although some procedures are more likely to need re-doing at some point than others.

  • How long will it last? Will I need top up surgery? If you’re having breast implants, they won’t last indefinitely, and you should assume they will need replacing after around ten years or so. There are sell-by dates on a lot of cosmetic procedures, after which you might find that the results are looking past their best. It’s best to know in advance if you’re signing yourself up to regular maintenance!

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