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The NHS guide to cosmetic procedures

Is cosmetic surgery available on the NHS?

Cosmetic surgery is not routinely provided on the NHS.

Occasionally, it may be provided on the NHS for psychological or other health reasons. For example, the NHS might pay for:

  • breast implants if a woman's breasts are severely underdeveloped or asymmetrical, and it's clear this is causing her significant psychological distress
  • nose reshaping if the person has breathing problems
  • a tummy tuck if the person has excess fat or skin after weight loss or pregnancy
  • a breast reduction operation if the weight of a woman's breasts is causing her back problems

Generally, most people who wish to have cosmetic surgery will need to pay for this privately.

Reconstructive or plastic surgery can also be available on the NHS. This is different from cosmetic surgery; it's surgery to restore a person's normal appearance after illness, accident or a birth defect. It includes procedures such as rebuilding breasts after a mastectomy, or repairing a cleft lip.

More information

Page last reviewed: 19/05/2016

Next review due: 19/05/2019


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