Availability of cosmetic surgery 

Cosmetic surgery is rarely available through the NHS. There must be overriding physical or psychological reasons for considering it as a treatment option.

For example, a clinical commissioning group (CCG) may decide that cosmetic surgery is required for health reasons (see below) in rare cases.

Most people pay to have cosmetic surgery carried out privately because NHS resources are limited and waiting times are usually long.

GP referral

See your GP if you're considering having cosmetic surgery. They can discuss your options with you and advise you about the possibility of having the procedure on the NHS.

If your GP thinks that cosmetic surgery may be a suitable treatment option for you, they will refer you to a consultant who will decide whether NHS-funded surgery is appropriate. Before making a decision, the consultant may ask you to have a psychological assessment.

If you decide to have cosmetic surgery at a private hospital or clinic, it's still advisable for you to be referred by a GP. This is so that the surgeon carrying out the procedure has access to your medical records.

Cosmetic surgery through the NHS

There are a few cases where cosmetic surgery may be available on the NHS, such as:

  • breast implants to treat severe underdevelopment or asymmetry (lopsidedness)
  • breast reduction to treat back pain or shoulder pain
  • nose reshaping (rhinoplasty) to treat breathing problems
  • tummy tucks to remove excess fat or skin after essential abdominal surgery
  • eyelid reduction to treat affected vision

However, NHS resources are limited and waiting times for these types of surgery are usually long.

Private treatment

Due to the limited availability of cosmetic surgery on the NHS, most people who decide to have cosmetic surgery have private treatment.

All private companies that provide cosmetic surgery must register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Always ask to see the company’s registration before agreeing to have cosmetic surgery at a private hospital or clinic.

The CQC inspects all cosmetic surgery providers and reports on their findings.


The cost of private cosmetic treatment can vary depending on where you have treatment and the type of procedure being carried out.

As a general guide, prices in the UK for some common procedures are:

  • breast augmentation – £3,500 to £5,000
  • breast reduction – £3,500 to £5,500
  • eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) – £1,500 to £4,000
  • ear reshaping (otoplasty or pinnaplasty) – £2,500 to £3,000
  • facelift – £4,000 to £7,500
  • liposuction – £1,500 to £5,000
  • 'nose job' (rhinoplasty) – £3,000 to £4,000
  • 'tummy tuck' (abdominoplasty) – £4,000 to £6,500

Page last reviewed: 16/05/2013

Next review due: 16/05/2015