Your Consultation with the Surgeon
On this page you can read information about what to discuss with your surgeon and what you need to know before you have surgery.
Download a checklist to take with you to your consultation so that you know what to talk about with the surgeon.
The consultation is an opportunity to have a detailed discussion with your surgeon so you are clear about surgery before you give your consent.
Make sure that you talk to the surgeon who will be performing your procedure before you give your consent to have surgery. Only that surgeon should advise you about the procedure. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Reputable surgeons and hospital staff will be happy to discuss everything with you. Be wary of surgeons and hospitals that do not want to discuss the details of surgery with you.
About your surgeon
Ask the surgeon the following questions:
- Are you on the General Medical Council’s specialist register for the area of practice relevant to the procedure I am considering? Find out which type of surgeon to choose for the procedure you are considering.
- Are you insured to carry out the procedure in the UK? You can ask to see the details of your surgeon’s insurance.
- Will you be performing the procedure? Your consultation should only be with the surgeon who will operate on you.
Why do you want surgery and what are your options?
Talk to the surgeon about what you want to change and why
It is important that the surgeon fully understands your expectations so they can give the best advice for you.
Talk to the surgeon about the treatment options available
There may be other options available to achieve the results you want without having surgery, and your surgeon may want to discuss these with you. Find out the possible benefits and risks of each option. Read more specific information about the procedure you are interested in.
Can surgery give me the results I want?
Be clear with yourself about what would make the procedure a success for you. This is important because if you decide to go ahead, your surgeon can tell you if your expectations are realistic. Would you be content with a reasonable improvement, rather than perfection?
Can the surgeon offer a good chance of achieving the results you want?
Ask the surgeon to show you before-and-after pictures, but only of procedures they have carried out. Tell the surgeon about any medical conditions you have, even if you are not having symptoms at the time of the consultation, and all medications that you're taking.
The surgeon might ask a colleague for advice or refer you to another doctor or surgeon before they decide whether or not to perform the procedure. Some patients may need extra support to help them make the best decision for them.
The surgeon should do what they think is best for you, even if this means advising you against the procedure that you want and turning you down for surgery.
Costs - your hospital should give you details of the full costs
- Make sure the hospital tells you about all costs involved in the procedure. Ask for a breakdown of all planned and possible costs, including future surgery and possible complications
- What is included and what is not included in the costs?
- What happens if I change my mind about having the procedure after I have paid some, or all of the costs?
- How much will I need to pay if the surgery has to be repeated or corrected? If I am not happy with the result, will I have to pay for further surgery?
The surgeon should give you details of exactly what's involved in the procedure. Ask your surgeon the following questions and make sure you understand the answers.
Details of your surgery
- Where and when will the procedure take place?
- How long it will take?
- What exactly is going to be done?
- How much evidence is available on the procedure and how reliable is it?
- What type of anaesthetic will I need? Will it be general or local?
Possible risks, complications and likely results
- What are the possible risks and complications of the procedure, how likely are they to happen and what can be done to correct them if they do happen?
- How long will it be before I see the benefits of surgery? (For example, when will the swelling and bruising settle?)
- How long will the results last, and is there any possibility that surgery will need to be repeated in the future?
- Do any implants that will be used meet national guidelines? Will the implants need to be removed or replaced in the future?
Your surgeon's experience
- Have you done this procedure before and do you perform it regularly? Make sure you are comfortable with the surgeons's experience of carrying out the procedure.
Find out what will happen after surgery
- What will happen after the surgery?
- What pain can I expect afterwards and how long is it likely to last? Also, what pain relief will I be given or recommended?
- How long is the recovery likely to be?
- Ask for written information about the procedure you’ve had, including any medicines or devices that were used. If you want this information to go to your GP let your surgeon know.
- How long am I likely to stay in hospital?
- Will I need someone to take me home after the procedure?
- What wound care and / or dressings will I need, where will they be done and by who?
- What will I be able to do after the procedure? And what will I not be able to do?
- How long after the surgery can I expect to get back to day-to-day activities?
- Will I need time off work after the surgery? If so, how long?
Your aftercare package
- How will I be looked after, and how long will you and the hospital continue to give me support?
- What will happen if something does not go according to plan? What will happen if something goes wrong immediately after surgery? Will I have immediate access to care?
- What is covered within the aftercare package? It’s also important to find out what is not covered.
- What the surgeon’s and hospital’s insurance does and doesn’t cover me for? Who will pay if something goes wrong?
Complaints procedure and contact details
- Be clear about the hospital’s complaints procedure before your procedure.
- Who should I contact if I have any problems, an emergency or need help out of hours? (This should be a named doctor who can deal with any complications rather than an NHS helpline)
Conflicts of interest
- The General Medical Council (the GMC) say that your surgeon must also tell you if they have a financial or commercial interest in a procedure or hospital you are considering, so you can decide whether that interest could influence the advice they give you.
Before deciding to have surgery you should be clear on the following:
- What are you going to have done?
- What you would consider a successful outcome and the likely result? This is important because if you decide to go ahead with surgery, your surgeon can tell you whether your expectations are achievable. Would you be content with a reasonable improvement, rather than perfection?
- Do you understand what could go wrong and could you cope if it did go wrong?
- Discuss your options with friends and family members to get their help and advice, but you should make the decision that is right for you.
- Having surgery is a big decision, and you should never feel rushed or pressured into giving your consent to have surgery by special offers that are for a limited time only or any discounts in price such as two-for-one deals. Cosmetic surgery should not be offered as a prize.
- Never feel pressured to agree to anything and be wary of surgeons or staff who try to convince you. If you feel any pressure at all from staff or the surgeon, or if they are not willing to discuss everything with you, go somewhere else.
- Take as much time as you need to make your decision. We strongly advise that you take at least two weeks after your consultation with the operating surgeon to think things through before surgery.
- You can change your mind at any point and you can ask for a second opinion from another surgeon.
Further information or questions...
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