Know Your Surgeon!

Do you know your surgeon well enough to make an informed decision?

You should ask yourself a number of questions before embarking on any treatment.

How do you know if he has undertaken the appropriate and relevant training?

  • In short – Plastic Surgeons in the UK cannot describe themselves as such unless they are recorded on the General Medical Council Specialist Register. Surgeons can only qualify for entry onto this register after they have undertaken and completed accredited training in plastic surgery over a number of years, which is recognised by the GMC. Check out you surgeon on the GMC web-site – www.gmc-uk.org

In the UK, stringent rules govern the training of a career plastic surgeon. Ensure your chosen surgeon can demonstrate the following standards, as a minimum:

  • GMC Registration
  • Fellowship of a College of Surgery (FRCS) – this proves that a degree of basic surgical training has been completed, and that the surgeon is knowledgeable.
  • FRCS (Plast) or CCST – this is the specialist accreditation awarded by the Joint (Royal) Colleges allowing specialist practice in plastic surgery in the UK. This is the highest level of plastic surgery training that can be achieved
  • Membership of BAPRAS (the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons).
  • Membership of BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) – this association concerns itself purely with the Aesthetic or Cosmetic aspects of Plastic Surgery and is the main regulatory body for Cosmetic Practice.

In addition to this is might be useful to know how, academically, well-recognised your surgeon is by his peer group. Evidence of this might include medical/surgical publications, invitations to speak at recognised national and international meetings, research and audit undertaken and carried out.

Where does he currently work, and what does his work specifically involve i.e. special surgical interests?

  • Most plastic surgeons hold substantive positions in NHS Trusts. By definition and because of the robust recruitment process that doctors have to undergo prior to being appointed to consultant positions, this should offer some reassurances. Generally, many plastic surgeons embark on a career in private practice soon after appointment to consultant NHS positions. It is within their private practices that they undertake aesthetic/cosmetic procedures; such procedures are not available through the NHS.
  • It is not unreasonable to ask your surgeon how many procedures he has done. In the interests of openness and transparency he will be happy to discuss this with you.
  • The recently published National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death Report found that more than half “cosmetic” surgeons offering complex surgeries such as breast reduction, perform these operations fewer than 10 times a year.
  • Mr Riaz has an extensive portfolio of patients for each of the procedures he performs, many spanning a number of years, whose medical photography he will be willing to show you during your consultation, as part of the informed consent process. This is also demonstrates his level of experience in a very practical way.
  • A word of warning – Surgeons operating abroad are not regulated in the same way the GMC registered doctors are, and very importantly are not required by law to maintain adequate indemnity. So, if in the event of something going wrong abroad you will have no course to redress. This has to be a major consideration. The UK is one of the most highly regulated services in the world. Professional medical indemnity is a mandatory requirement for all plastic surgeons.