6 ESSENTIAL steps to safe cosmetic treatment


We read a lot about the risky business of plastic surgery and cases of cosmetic procedures that have gone wrong appear in headlines daily.

The media does tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive stories about cosmetic treatments.

However, before we forge ahead with our chosen procedure and clinician, it is important that we do our best to minimise any risk.

So, how best to ensure we choose the safest aesthetic treatments as well as the safest pair of hands?

The use of an evidence-based approach to any cosmetic procedure means that decisions should be based, as far as possible, on scientific evidence. This means that plastic surgeons should always take into account the available knowledge from the clinical literature around in order to determine best practice.

In layman’s terms, a treatment needs to have been thoroughly tried and tested before we are given the opportunity to benefit from it.

Additionally, any clinician we choose needs to have experience in any procedure for us to be comfortable in his or her hands.

For those of us seeking complex treatments, it is reassuring to know it has a secure foundation. Our health interests need to be protected as far as possible and the results predictable. Far better for everyone if the surgeon achieves exactly what we desire – and what was discussed at consultation.

Aesthetic clinicians have a wealth of guidelines to which to refer, published by various professional bodies and specialist organisations all around the world.

Such guidelines should be produced – and reviewed – by a recognised body of experts in the field and clinicians should always act in accordance with a body of carefully weighed evidence.

Gary Ross is a plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon in the north west of England, who offers an individualised range of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

Here, he offers his top tips to the safest route to surgery…

  • How up to date should I expect my surgeon to be when it comes to my choice of treatment options?
  • It is essential you choose surgeons who have the experience and knowledge to provide an opinion in the specific area of rejuvenation surgery that you’re considering. Often, individual surgeons will have websites that can provide case examples for you to view. Validated online review sites can also provide a valuable education source to guide you towards those surgeons with experience in the relevant areas.
  • How can he/she demonstrate they are up to speed on current clinical thinking?
  • Individual surgeons who update their case series and photos on their websites regularly, attend regular meetings and have up-to-date online validated reviews are able to demonstrate currency. Social media and regular blogs from surgeons offer an insight into their current thinking. Plastic surgeons who appraise/revalidate through the GMC and the Royal College of Surgeons – and are involved in continuing medical education often through professional bodies, such as BAAPS and BAPRAS – offer a baseline of clinical quality and safety.

  • If a clinician is offering a treatment that hasn’t any supporting literature, what are my options?
  • Those of you considering treatments with unproven safety must proceed with caution and, if not fully informed, should seek a second opinion.

  • Why is it so important that treatments have lots of evidence?
  • Evidence and guidance is an essential means of providing safety. Treatments with unproven track records and without the usual recommendation of a professional body of opinion should be considered unsafe.

  • How often do new treatments come along – and how long should I wait to have them?
  • New treatments are continually being marketed and adopted into clinical practice. Efficacy and evidence may be overlooked in the drive to bring a new treatment to the market. Both clinicians and patients need to be fully informed of the validity of new treatments and be aware of the various levels of evidence available in order that they can make an informed decision to proceed. You should always ask how many of a certain procedure a surgeon has performed and about the pros and cons – as well as the alternatives. If you’re unsure about either a treatment or a surgeon, then seek a second opinion.

  • What key questions should I ask my cosmetic surgeon in order to ensure safe treatment?
  • How much do consultations cost?
  • Will I meet the surgeon who will be treating me at the consultation?
  • What are the options?
  • What are the potential risks and complications of each option?
  • How much will surgery cost?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • How many cases have you performed?
  • Is this operation an area that you specialise in?
  • Have you any cases that you could show me of patients similar to me?
  • What is your complication and re-operation rate?
  • What results can I expect and how long will they last?
  • What aftercare do you provide?
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