The NHS guide to cosmetic procedures

Your guide to cosmetic procedures

Are you thinking of having a cosmetic procedure? Whether you're considering a less invasive procedure like Botox or full cosmetic surgery like breast implants, it's a good idea to do your research.

You can start by looking up the procedure in the list of information leaflets on this page, or browsing the menu tabs.

All cosmetic procedures carry some level of risk. Cosmetic surgery has greater risks than non-surgical procedures.

It's important you choose a practitioner or surgeon who is competent to perform the procedure and has the appropriate insurance.

Also, make sure you weigh up the costs, as it's unusual for cosmetic surgery to be available on the NHS. You should factor in any additional costs for aftercare and future surgery, and correcting anything that goes wrong.

If you're sure you want to go ahead with surgery, you'll need to choose a surgeon and hospital for your procedure and follow the steps from there.

Why has this guide been produced?

In recent years there has been a sharp rise in the number of men and women opting for cosmetic surgery and less invasive procedures such as Botox and fillers.

Worryingly, this comes at a time when an independent review in 2013 (PDF, 1.38Mb) highlighted serious concerns about the cosmetic procedures industry. 

The review proposed much tighter and rigorous regulation for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and made a number of other recommendations to ensure patient safety. 

It also stressed the importance of having accurate information and advice available for patients. That's why this NHS Choices guide to cosmetic procedures has been created.

This guide should help you understand the risks and effectiveness of different cosmetic procedures, and ultimately help you decide whether cosmetic surgery is right for you

Making improvements

The government welcomed the review (PDF, 1.9Mb) and accepted most of the recommendations to ensure patient safety. The Department of Health has been working with key organisations to implement these recommendations.

Improvements are now being made. Doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures anywhere in the UK have been issued with new guidance by the General Medical Council (GMC) to make sure they provide the best possible care for patients.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has also developed professional standards for all surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery.

And the RCS will soon be introducing a new cosmetic surgery certification system. This means you will be able to find a surgeon who meets RCS standards for the procedure you are interested in, if you're sure you want to go ahead.

Page last reviewed: 19/05/2016

Next review due: 19/05/2019

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