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Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 24 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Plastic Surgery Cosmetic Surgery

People often wonder where the term ¨plastic surgery¨ comes from. Many assume it´s because people who undergo many plastic procedures often end up looking like a Barbie doll made out of plastic. That´s not entirely true, although there is some truth in that statement!

Plastic surgery actually comes from the Greek word ¨plastikos¨, meaning to shape or to mould, and is different from cosmetic surgery in that it does not aim to improve appearance alone. Like reconstructive surgery, plastic surgery seeks to repair or restore form, function or both. It is a much broader type of surgery than cosmetic surgery, and is considered a very competitive area of medicine.

Most of us are familiar with cosmetic procedures, the most popular being breast enlargements, breast reductions, breast uplifts, nose jobs, eyelid lifts, face lifts, liposuction and tummy tucks. But few of us know that plastic surgery includes not only cosmetic surgery but also repairs following burns or other injuries, correction of congenital deformities or acquired deformities, removal of tumours and breast reconstruction as a result of cancer.

What Qualifications do Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons Have?

According to the Royal College of Surgeons of England, all surgeons must obtain a basic medical degree first and qualify as doctors. They then continue to have several years of training in a specific surgical speciality and acquire a surgical specification. Those wishing to become consultants must then obtain a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training. Some may go on to obtain further degrees in specific specialist areas.

Surgeons working in the UK who are trained overseas will have to register with the General Medical Council before being allowed to practice here. They must also be able to prove to UK authorities that they are qualified and have the right experience.

It is possible to check your surgeon´s qualifications through the General Medical Council. Make sure that he or she is a member of it, as well as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, or BAAPS, The British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons or similar professional bodies.

But is There a Difference in Their Training?

Yes. There are nine main specialities recognised by the Royal College of Surgeons, and plastic surgery is one of the nine. That means after qualifying as a doctor they have completed at least six years of specialist training or more. Cosmetic surgeons, however, do not have specific regulations covering their training, surprisingly. However, all cosmetic surgeons must be on the General Medical Council´s Specialist Register to practice. In Ireland, the Specialist Register will list people who are qualified in both plastic and cosmetic procedures.

Remember that no decent surgeon will mind a potential patients asking about his or her qualifications. If they do mind, go to someone else.

How Do I Know The Surgeon is Right for Me?

The Department of Health recommends the following steps:

  • Talk to your GP. Not only will you get good advice but you´ll also learn what specific health issues you need to bring up with the surgeon.
  • Find a surgery provider registered with the Healthcare Commission. Do not be embarrassed to ask to see their registration.
  • Meet with their doctor or nurse to discuss details. Many clinics nowadays put a PR person across as their main front person. They are not qualified medical professionals and as such should not be treated as professional advisers.
  • If you like what you see, talk to the surgeon who will be performing your operation. Make sure they know your entire health history and are filled in on any concerns you may have. They should also tell you all about the procedure, potential risks, potential scarring, aftercare etc.
  • Make sure you have a ¨cooling off¨period before you sign an agreement, and make sure the agreement has your consent on it and the final cost specified. They will need your consent as well if they plan to show before and after photos of you to other potential patients.
  • If you are getting cosmetic surgery outside the UK, ask the same questions and check credentials rigorously. It may cost less in terms of money but more in terms of your health and safety.

Deciding to go ahead with cosmetic or plastic surgery is a big step, and your surgeon will play the biggest part in the success of any procedure you have done. Preparing in advance and doing proper research beforehand will help you obtain the best results.

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