Here in the UK, studies suggest plastic surgery is more popular than ever. Mintel reports that 37% of women would be interested in having a surgical cosmetic procedure in the future, and the number increases to 52% in women aged 18-34. The most common ones? Liposuction (14%) and tummy tucks (11%), with surgeons also counting rhinoplasty and facelifts among the surgeries women book in for often.
If you're considering plastic surgery of any kind, you've no doubt done your research, so you'll know that one step in particular is instrumental: the initial consultation. Whether it's 30 minutes or two hours, the time spent in front of your potential surgeon is an opportunity to ask every single question you've ever had about going under the knife – it's a chance to dispel fears, debunk myths and possibly take the next steps.
So what should you bring up? It may sound obvious, but check that they are actually a plastic surgeon first, says Mr Naveen Cavale, of Real Plastic Surgery London. "Are they on the GMC Specialist Register – the equivalent to board-certified? Are they a member of the 'proper' organisations such as BAAPS, BAPRAS, ISAPS?" Internationally certified plastic surgeon, Dr Roberto Viel agrees.
"Additionally, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all surgeries and clinics in the country. You want to be treated by a surgeon who specialises in your desired treatment," says Viel. "I would always ask your prospective surgeon how frequently they perform the procedure. If they perform it often, or specialise in the procedure, they will be more likely to be up to date with the latest technologies and will probably be more skilled." He continues: "Also, see if your doctor is confident they can give you the results you want. Before and after pictures are a good way to check this. Your doctor should always be honest with you about what they can, and more importantly can’t achieve – this will avoid complications in the future. And always ask if you’re a good candidate for the procedure, and if not, what else could they recommend?"
It's also important to ask yourself questions, suggests Cavale. "Did you feel properly informed? Did your surgeon tell you what was involved with your procedure and all the potential risks and complications? If not, then this isn’t a surgical consultation, it is a sales meeting," he says. "We are talking about surgery here, with real risks, not the equivalent of buying a new car – you can always swap a car for a better one, surgical scars are permanent. Then ask, did you feel pressured or rushed? Your consultation with your surgeon should never feel like this. It's also a bad sign if your surgeon tries to up-sell surgery. A surgeon who suggests 'While you're at it, have you thought of this, too?' or someone who says something like, 'You really could do with having this done' or 'You’ve definitely got a problem with this part of your body, haven’t you noticed?' is someone to be wary of," adds Cavale.
It's typical to pay anywhere between £150-300 for one consultation, so other important pointers Viel suggests remembering are: aftercare – being responsible with your recovery is key to a good result; cleanliness – you're well within your rights to ask about the surgical areas; qualifications – don't be afraid to ask to see them; and respect. "If a doctor doesn’t listen to you and respectfully answer any questions you have, you might want to look elsewhere. As long as you are comfortable with the conversation, one consultation is fine to have ahead of a procedure," he says, while Cavale suggests a two-week cooling-off period between your initial consultation and booking in, to make sure you don't rush into things.
Overall, both surgeons hit home the importance of trusting your gut feeling. "I am thinking about the same thing from my point of view, too," says Cavale. "Don’t have surgery with someone you don’t feel good about. I won’t operate on someone who I don’t feel I can help. I can technically operate on anyone, but if our 'relationship' isn’t right I will say no and suggest you find someone else who can make you happier."
Ahead, four women lift the lid on their experiences of surgical consultations.