1. Do I know my practitioner? You would be surprised how many practices do not demand that a patient meets with the practitioner who will perform their procedure in advance. If a practice tells you that it isn’t possible to meet with your practitioner and that you must have a consultation with a sales person or another member of staff instead, I would suggest that you do not agree to proceed. Any reputable practitioner will demand that they meet the patient in person beforehand.
2. Have I quizzed them thoroughly? Choose a qualified, reputable practitioner and make sure you research them thoroughly. Questions to ask include: How long have they been practicing? What qualifications do they have? Which are their specialist areas? The more questions you ask, the more confident you can be that they are the right practitioner for you.
3. Have I seen what’s really involved? Glossy brochures aside, find out the reality of the procedure by reading the stories of people who have undergone the procedure themselves, ask questions on reputable forums online about that doctor’s reputation and watch video content of procedures being carried out. It’s important to verify all the information you find with your practitioner though, as there is likely to be some conflicting information on the internet. Thorough research will help you to make an informed decision about whether this is the right procedure for you.
4. Have I seen enough of their work? Ask to see evidence of your practitioner’s work. Seeing photos of previous patients that they have treated will help you to understand the results that the practitioner can achieve and it will also help you to establish realistic expectations. Make sure these aren’t generic pictures of the manufacturer though; it should be the work of that very practitioner that you are seeing. You can ask to speak to the people in the pictures as some patients agree to this.
5. Have I been influenced by price, clever advertising or a celeb? Ask yourself, am I doing this for the right reasons? A cosmetic procedure of any kind is something that requires careful consideration. It is also something which should never be offered at cut price. Remember, just because a practice is offering the cheapest price, does not mean that you are going to get the best service or results. Prioritise the reputability of the practitioner and the quality of the treatment and don’t be coerced into undergoing a cosmetic procedure by a financial offer. It is also unrealistic to want to try and emulate someone else’s results. Every individual is different and all cosmetic treatments should take in to account, and be sympathetic towards, the individual’s body shape. If a patient comes to see me clutching an image of a celebrity alarms bells ring. More often than not, the patient will have unrealistic expectations of the results that can be achieved and if that is the case I will most likely advise that they don’t go ahead with treatment. Be wary of any practitioner who promises results in line with that of a certain celebrity.
6. Am I clear about the risks? There are risks associated with every cosmetic procedure; any practitioner who claims there are no risks involved is not to be trusted. Your doctor or surgeon should be open and honest with you about the potential risks involved, right from the early consultation stage. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, particularly if there is something that concerns you or that you do not understand. No question is too silly so voice your concerns and get a firm and clear understanding of the potential risks involved and find out what he / she plans to do if they happen. Make sure you will have access to your doctor with a mobile phone number for an emergency.
7. Am I ready for the recovery process? Make sure you are fully informed about the recovery process in advance so that you can make the necessary preparations. Find out: Is the procedure walk-in, walk out or will I need an overnight stay? Will I need help from anyone else when I leave the clinic? How should I travel home? Will I be in any pain? Should I take time off from work? Can I continue to exercise straight away? Will I need post-operative follow up visits? You should discuss all these things with your practitioner well before the day of your treatment.
8. Have I cooled off? The ‘cooling off’ period is the term we use for the period of time in between your consultation and procedure. This is the time when you should be thinking carefully about what your doctor has told you and considering whether this is the right decision for you. If you feel you need more time or that you still have questions, request a second consultation with the same practitioner or go for a consultation with a second or third practitioner. This will give you further opinions and will help you make a more considered decision.
9. Have I talked about it to someone else? Ask for the advice of a loved one, as there is always a chance that they could raise questions that you had not considered yourself. Of course, a doctor must respect doctor-patient confidentiality and if you choose to undergo the procedure without consulting those around you, then this is your choice. Nonetheless, remember that this is a big decision and one which might be easier with the advice and support of a loved one.
10. Have I checked out my doctor? The General Medical Council registers doctors in the UK and you can find out if your doctor is registered with the GMC (and therefore ensure that they have not been struck off) on the GMC website. On the site, there is a tab entitled ‘check your doctor’s registration status’, and there you can input their name to get access to their record. If there is more than one doctor with the same name registered with the GMC then you will also require their GMC number. This should be easily obtained from the practitioner themselves or the clinic they practice from. You can also check with the GMC register that they are qualified in any specialisms they say they have, such as surgery. The medical practitioners’ tribunal service (MPTS) have a calendar of upcoming hearings on their website where you can see what cases are coming up and whether any of the practitioners you are considering booking a treatment with are involved in any ongoing legal issues such as clinical negligence of patients.