What do I need to make sure of during a consultation, and what should I ask?

Before having a cosmetic procedure, you'll visit the surgeon (or different form of treatment provider) for an initial consultation. Most surgeons will charge you for the initial consultation, as they are providing a professional evaluation, recommendation, and explanation of the actual procedure. Others offer the initial consultation for free. Note that free consultations are often carried out by a nurse or other form of consultant, as opposed to an actual surgeon, and it's therefore advised, that you ask about this before booking an appointment.

Note: The Department of Health believes that patients should receive advice about surgery ONLY from doctors and nurses, as they have the qualifications and expertise to give you high-quality advice. Check whether your adviser is a doctor or nurse, and whether they are registered with the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council.

During the initial appointment, you will be able to discuss your wishes for the result with the surgeon. The surgeon will ask you some clarifying questions, and then advice you on the procedure that will be best suited, so you can obtain the best possible result.

There are certain questions, that you should make sure to ask your surgeon (or other form of treatment provider) during the initial consultation. These questions have been compiled into a list that can be found on the Department of Health's website:
Questions to ask before cosmetic surgery

We strongly advise that you print out or write down these questions and bring them with you at the initial appointment at the clinic.

When asking these questions, it's important to make sure that the surgeon…

  • Answers all questions clearly and without avoiding the subject.
  • Asks for your opinion of the procedure suggested.
  • Doesn't press you to get unwanted extra surgery.
  • Is friendly, also when asked questions about his or her education, experiences, and pricing.
  • Makes a clear point about the possible side effects of the treatment. (All surgery involves a risk!)
  • Leaves you to make the final decision.

Be sure to take your time to go through all the items in the before-mentioned list. If the surgeon refuses to answer some of your questions, or if you're not satisfied with their answers, you should just find another clinic.

As a general rule, the initial appointment for a surgical procedure should take at least 30 minutes. If it doesn't, you've probably not been given the proper amount of guidance. Look at your watch before the consultation starts. It is not ok, if the surgeon is ready to send you off again after 10 minutes.

It's essential that the clinic or hospital, where the surgery is going to be performed, is clean, safe, and supplied with equipment that's not completely worn down.

All these precautions may seem overwhelming, but it's mostly just about good common sense, and listening to your own intuition. Was the consultation pleasant? Did the surgeon give a safe impression? Do you feel comfortable with having surgery done here?

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Read more about how to prepare for cosmetic surgery here!