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Choosing who will do your cosmetic procedure

If you've decided to have a cosmetic procedure, you'll need to choose who will do it. They should have the right training, skills and insurance to safely carry out the procedure.

Book a consultation

Always book a consultation with the person who will do the procedure before making your final decision.

Ask them:

  • how many of these procedures they've done
  • what qualifications and training they have
  • if they're a member of a relevant professional association that shows they meet set standards in training and skill
  • about the most common complications of the procedure
  • what aftercare you can expect and who will look after you
  • what to do if something goes wrong or you're not happy with the result
  • how much it'll cost, and if it'll cost extra to have further treatment if needed

The practitioner should tell you exactly what the procedure involves, including:

  • how it'll be done
  • how long it'll take
  • whether anaesthetic is needed

They should also tell you about what to expect after the procedure, including:

  • what pain you can expect afterwards
  • how long the recovery should be
  • the potential risks and complications
  • how long the results will last
  • what you can expect to look like after the procedure

After your consultation

Your practitioner should give you time after your consultation to decide whether you want to go ahead with the procedure.

You can also ask them for information to take away with you, such as a leaflet from the manufacturer of the product they'll use.

Things to avoid

Do not pay for a procedure until you've had a consultation to make sure it's right for you.

You should also avoid: 

  • group treatments, or events involving alcohol
  • treatment vouchers sold online on group discount or voucher sites
  • mobile services where procedures are performed in places such as private homes or hotels
  • practitioners who only advertise on social media

Check the person is qualified

You can see if someone is qualified by checking they're registered with a suitable specialist association and trained in the right procedures.

Cosmetic surgery

Check the clinic is registered

All independent hospitals and clinics that provide cosmetic surgery in England must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Check the hospital or clinic is registered with the CQC, or ask them to show you its certificate.

The CQC publishes quality ratings online, and hospitals and clinics must make sure all staff are properly trained to safely do their job.

CQC: check hospitals in England and their quality of care

CQC: check clinics in England and their quality of care

Doctors and surgeons

Only registered doctors can perform cosmetic surgery in England.

You should check if someone is a registered doctor or surgeon on the General Medical Council online register.

Some surgeons have a cosmetic surgery certificate from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). This means they've taken an exam, been assessed and they meet an agreed national standard.

The RCS has a list of certified cosmetic surgeons.

Some surgeons are also members of professional associations, which make sure they have the relevant qualifications, experience and insurance to perform particular types of surgery.

For example:

Cosmetic dental treatment

If you're having cosmetic dental treatment, look for a dental professional registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).

There are rules in the UK about who can perform dental treatments. The GDC publishes guidance about this.

Non-surgical procedures and other professionals

You can check if other professionals offering cosmetic procedures are on a voluntary register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

These registers show that practitioners meet set standards of training, insurance and skill:

Independent professional associations set standards of competence, training and insurance for their members. They include:

You can search for a practitioner on their website.

Advice on Botox

Botulinum toxin injections, such as Botox® or Dysport®, are prescription-only medicines.

They can only be prescribed after a consultation between you and a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or nurse.

The person giving the injections does not have to be the same person who gave you the prescription.

But the prescriber must ensure that the person giving you the injections is trained and safe to do so.

Make sure you know:

  • who the prescriber is
  • who'll be giving the actual treatment
  • what training and experience they have
  • what the insurance arrangements are

Read more about Botox

Advice on dermal fillers

Dermal fillers are used for a range of purposes, including lip fillers, and do not always need a prescription.

As there are a lot of different versions available, make sure you ask the practitioner:

  • the name of the product that will be used
  • where the product came from
  • what qualifications, training and experience they have

Avoid practitioners who've only completed a short training course in your chosen procedure. This is because complications of dermal fillers can be serious, including infection, nerve damage and blindness.

Read more about dermal fillers

Page last reviewed: 24 August 2020
Next review due: 24 August 2023