Your rights if you have cosmetic surgery, a peel or fillers

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If you’re thinking about having cosmetic surgery or non-surgical procedures such as fillers or laser treatment, what do you need to know? Find out your rights if you have cosmetic surgery or fillers.

Your rights if you have cosmetic surgery or fillers

There are some key rules that it’s important to be aware of if you’re thinking of having something like Botox or a filler, or cosmetic surgery such as a breast implant or nose job.

  1. Talk to your GP. They may be able to refer to you a surgeon in your local area.
  2. Check out the registration and qualifications of the surgeon. If you’re going for cosmetic surgery, it must be carried out by a surgeon and he or she should specialise in cosmetic surgery. The GMC (General Medical Council, which is the regulatory body for doctors in the UK) has a specialist register for plastic surgery.
  3. Look for the letters FRCS (Plast) This means the surgeon has taken a specialist qualification in cosmetic surgery via the Royal College of Surgeons.
  4. Find out if they’re a member of BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) or BAPRAS (the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons). The cosmetic surgery consultant Cindy Jackson has set up her own association, called the IAAC.
  5. Check that the clinic is registered with the CQC, the Care Quality Commission.
  6. If you’re having a non-surgical procedure, it may not have to be carried out by a surgeon, but, in the case of Botox, a prescription is needed. Dermal fillers don’t need to be prescribed. Do be aware that the level of training someone needs to do procedures such as facial peels and fillers can be pretty low. You can find a nurse who’s registered with the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses, whose members have to abide by a code of conduct.  You can find a specialist doctor who’s passed an annual appraisal and who is registered with the GMC at the British College of Aesthetic Medicine website.  There’s also an organisation called Save Face, which has useful information from experts on non-surgical procedures and sets standards that practitioners have to abide by.
  7. Ask about insurance. All practitioners should have their own indemnity insurance. Ask to see their certificate and make sure that their insurance covers the procedure you’re considering having.

Going abroad for treatment

Personally, I wouldn’t go abroad for cosmetic surgery treatment because I think it would be much harder to take action against the provider if things go wrong. But I know that people do have cosmetic surgery abroad without a problem. If you do want to get a procedure done overseas, make sure you do (lots of) your own research.

The consultation

The consultation is as important as the surgery itself. You should not be put under any pressure to have the surgery/procedure and the consultation should be with the person who will carry it out, not an ‘adviser’. Trust your gut instinct. If you feel you’re being ‘upsold’ or being given the hard sell, walk away. If you don’t feel that you’re comfortable putting your looks in the hands of the person you’re talking to, don’t use them.

The contract

Check exactly what you’re being asked to sign. It’s quite likely the contract will say that you can’t take action against the cosmetic surgeon or beauty spa if certain problems arise. That doesn’t mean you can’t sue them if they’ve been negligent or haven’t taken the care they should.

If things go wrong

If you’re not happy with the results of your procedure, you should complain to the person who carried it out. It may be that the affected area needs some time to ‘settle’ or it could be that the procedure hasn’t been carried out competently. If they don’t deal with your complaint in a way that you’re happy with, you have several options:

  1. Use a free to use complaints service like Resolver to escalate your complaint.
  2. Complain to your local Trading Standards. You normally have to approach them via Citizens Advice. They may have received complaints from other unhappy customers.
  3. If you paid for your procedure by credit card (and it cost more than £100) or if you paid through a finance deal, claim against the credit provider. You could make a claim for a refund of the costs you’ve paid on the basis that the contract has been breached.
  4. Consider contacting a solicitor. There are a number of solicitors who work in the area of medical negligence and some will work on a no win, no fee basis.

Related articles:

Understanding your credit card rights under Section 75

How to get your complaint resolved; how to complain effectively

What ombudsman schemes are there? Who can you complain to?