Common mistakes when selecting a plastic surgeon
There are a number of reasons why you might choose to undergo plastic surgery. These can range from restorative plastic surgery, such as repairing the effects of burns, serious injury or disfigurement through illness, to elective cosmetic surgery in order to achieve a desired body image.
In the case of enhancing your look, you would likely be referred to a specialist under either the NHS or a private healthcare provider. If you choose to have elective cosmetic surgery, however (for instance, a face lift or breast enhancement) you will normally need to find an independent plastic surgeon to carry out the procedure.
The majority of plastic surgeons are skilled, dedicated and regulated professionals, but not all. Some are less proficient than others, while a small minority may not be considered fit to practice, and using them could leave you needing to claim compensation for Medical Negligence. So how can you ensure you find the right plastic surgeon? And what can go wrong if you do not?
What can go wrong with plastic surgery?
Many people assume that, because plastic surgery can seem to be “only skin deep”, the effects are trivial. This is not the case, however. The procedure is still surgery, and that always carries risks. A competent plastic surgeon will always find out about your overall state of health and medical history, to establish if it is safe to operate on you.
A wide range of things can go wrong if you fail to choose a fully competent surgeon. Examples of complications that can occur far too often include:
- Infection caused by poor hygiene
- Mistakes with the anaesthetic
- Damage to nerves or organs
- Surgical equipment left inside the body
- The wrong procedure carried out
In addition, besides physical injuries, there is the risk that the results will not be what you expected. If you have had a face-lift, for instance, there is no way of simply putting your face back the way it was and trying again. Further surgery may limit the damage, but it may not be possible to get the results you wanted on a second attempt.
Even a good plastic surgeon may make some of these mistakes for one reason or another, but this is rare. The best way to avoid the risk is to choose wisely. So, what are the most common mistakes people make in their choice?
1. Using an unregistered plastic surgeon
If you are looking for a private clinic for cosmetic surgery, you may find some that have no accreditation. Perhaps these are cheaper, or more willing to do what you ask without question. That can seem attractive, but it is not necessarily how a competent professional, practices.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) keeps a list of practitioners they have registered and who operate according to their strict standards and code of conduct. You can search the register online, or ask at consultations whether the plastic surgeon is on it.
If they are not on the register, that does not necessarily mean they are incompetent or have low standards. However, it is safer to stick with registered plastic surgeons, to reduce the risk of complications and mistakes occurring.
2. Failing to do due diligence
Checking that the plastic surgeon you choose is registered with BAAPS is the minimum due diligence, but this does not automatically mean you have made the best choice.
Check out any customer testimonials carefully. Customers may enthuse about their experience, but do their descriptions really match what you are looking for? For example, someone might be delighted about how quickly their surgery had been arranged, but that could mask sloppy preparation.
Also, it is worth checking to find out whether the surgeon, or the clinic has had any claims or lawsuits upheld against them, or whether any are ongoing. You can also search for their name online and find out what is being said about them away from their website.
3. Being persuaded by a bargain
Elective cosmetic surgery can be expensive and most probably will not be covered by health insurance. It can be tempting to go for a bargain, but this can be a bad decision.
There is a strong probability that low prices will reflect low standards, and you may not end up with the results you wanted. Apart from the physical pain this may cause you, you could require further work to put right the mistakes made. In the meantime, you may actually find your appearance leaves you feeling worse than before.
4. Setting unrealistic expectations
Some people choose to have cosmetic surgery with the expectation that it will make them look like their favourite celebrity or role model. This is likely to be impossible, and even satisfactory results can end up as a disappointment.
This is just one reason why a good plastic surgeon will take their time discussing the procedure with you. They will establish what results you are looking for and advise you on how realistic your hopes are.
They should also show you before/after photos of previous patients who have had a similar operation, enabling you to see what kind of outcome you can expect. This will also give you an idea of whether this particular surgeon is compatible with your own aesthetic hopes.
5. Choosing a plastic surgeon who ignores your medical history
As previously mentioned, any competent plastic surgeon will want a comprehensive idea of both your current state of health and your medical history. Ignoring this could put your health at serious risk, so if a surgeon appears not to be interested, it should be regarded as a major red flag.
At the same time, it is essential that you are completely honest in your answers to the plastic surgeon’s questions. Although certain questions might be awkward to answer honestly (e.g. about medication or substance use) the consequences of failing to do so could be dangerous. The information you supply will be treated confidentially.
What happens if something goes wrong?
If you feel you have suffered as a result of an error due to a cosmetic procedure, we are here to help you. Our Medical Negligence experts are nationally recognised experts in their field, with over 30 years of experience, and will support you through every step of your claim.
Please contact us either by phone on 01525 378177, or online.