What are your qualifications?
Your surgeon should be on the GMC’s Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery. Preferably they should also be a member of the BAPRAS and BAAPS and hold (or have held) a substantive NHS Consultant appointment.
Is the anaesthetist a qualified consultant anaesthetist?
For your safety your anaesthetist should hold (or have held) a substantive NHS Consultant Anaesthetist appointment.
How often do you perform this procedure and how many have you done?
Look for honesty here. Every surgeon has a learning curve with new techniques – some people’s learning curves are steeper than others.
Will I see you for my follow-up consultation and how soon will I be seen?
You should insist on seeing the operating surgeon at least two weeks before the proposed date of surgery. A cosmetic advisor is a poor substitute and you should never settle for this. Remember, you are the customer and you can choose to go to whomever you wish. Following surgery you should also see the operating surgeon as frequently as necessary until the desired outcome has been achieved.
How many of your patients undergoing this procedure have had complications of surgery?
Once again honesty is paramount here. Even the best surgeons encounter occasional complications or unsatisfactory results. Anybody who claims to have a totally complication free practice is lying to you. You should ask about particular steps taken to reduce the chances of complications. If what you are being told sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What would happen if a complication occured, either from the anaesthetic or the surgery? (What is the worst case scenario?)
Most reputable surgeons will re-operate free of charge if a sub-optimal result is achieved. Run a mile from signing any disclaimers which start with the line ‘cosmetic surgery is not a precise science’. These clinics will drop you like a ton of bricks and charge you again if things don’t work out well.
Would there be any extra charges if I required additional surgery/dressings/hospitalisation?
Most reputable hospitals offer fixed price packages for procedures. The hospital will cover the cost of any extra surgery/dressings or treatment required should complications occur. They can only afford to do this if the complication rate is extremely low so you should be reassured by these fixed price deals rather than put off by their existence.
Are the photographs you have shown me real pictures of your own patients?
Make sure that the surgeon carrying out the procedure shows you photographs of their own patients and not ‘file’ photos of before and after shots provided by the clinic employing them. Also check that all of the expected scars are explicitly shown in the photographs. Beware of photographic trickery – high knickers are often used to hide tummy tuck scars and facial rejuvenation photos are often over exposed in the after pictures to hide wrinkles and shadows.
Could I speak to another one of your patients who has undergone this procedure?
This may not always be possible but if you are particularly anxious about a proposed procedure it may be very reassuring for you to talk things over with another patient who has undergone the same procedure. If you request this, ask yourself if you would be happy to be approached in the same way after your surgery?
Do you have any literature I can take away with me to read about this procedure?
The Healthcare Commission mandates this and the information should be explicit, in plain English and in adequate detail. Finally, a positive feel about the environment that your consultation has taken place in is paramount. If you feel at all uneasy then seek another opinion.