South Korea has the most plastic surgery operations performed per capita in the world, but it also seems to be prey to a rash of false advertising in terms of fake online reviews of cosmetic surgery practitioners.
This month, the Korea Internet Advertising Foundation (KIAF) revealed that nearly one in three positive reviews about plastic surgery is believed to be fake, portraying an exaggerated level of satisfaction. “Since plastic surgery patients often consider reviews and recommendations from blogs or websites, consumers can fall victim to misleading fake reviews,” KIAF commented.
This problem is not limited to South Korea. We now live in a review culture and happily leave feedback on our consumer experience, whether it’s the plumber fixing our sink or a meal in our favourite restaurant. This now extends to plastic surgery and there are a number of review sites dedicated to this field. Patients are increasingly factoring online testimonials into their decision-making process, but it is essential to take other factors into account to protect you from falling for a fake review.
Noteworthy too is that it is almost impossible to get a falsely malicious review taken down and consumers therefore also need to be cautious about them, especially if all other reviews are positive.
How to choose your plastic surgeon
# 1 Membership of professional bodies
In the UK, we have a number of not-for-profit professional bodies that require their members to provide regular safety audits and have the correct qualifications and experience. The two leading bodies in this country are the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS): I am a member of both. I’m also a member of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand and the British Burns Association, reflecting my extensive experience in the broad range of Reconstructive as well as Cosmetic surgery.
# 2 GMC registered
This is a very basic check to ensure that your surgeon is a registered medical practitioner and if they are fit to practice. It also gives details of whether they are on the specialist register for one of the ten recognised surgical specialties – see below for what that means in terms of their training and experience.
# 3 Training
In the past, it has been possible for a practitioner to provide aesthetic or cosmetic surgery procedures without specific training, a fact that surprises many people. Recent changes introduced by the Royal College of Surgeons to safeguard patients means that practitioners now need to be on the General Medical Council’s specialist register in a specialty that covers the procedures they offer.
However, no medical specialty can supercede plastic and reconstructive surgery in terms of training and experience. This means that your surgeon will have undergone at least six years of specialist training in this field, with regular examinations and assessments. Younger surgeons will have the letters FRCS (Plast) after their name, unlike their more senior colleagues, such as myself, who were fully accredited in the specialty before the ‘Plast’ exit exam was introduced.
# 4 Consultant status
Another important consideration when choosing your plastic surgeon is whether they have or are eligible to hold a consultant position in plastic and reconstructive surgery in the NHS. Some surgeons might now have a purely private practice but this eligibility means that they have the necessary qualifications and experience.
Having done much to create and build the modern Plastic & Reconstructive Surgical Service for Coventry and Warwickshire, now based at the University Hospitals of Coventry & Warwickshire, I remain Honorary Consultant to the Unit, participating in teaching and learning there but now conducting all my surgery in the private sector.
# 5 Working at a reputable clinic or hospital
Knowing where your plastic surgery procedure will take place is also important; a trustworthy cosmetic surgeon will have operating rights at reputable private clinics and hospitals that can offer an excellent (Care Quality Commission approved) standard of patient care and safety.
Patient testimonials are an important step in finding a plastic surgeon that you can trust but don’t just rely on the internet and faceless strangers. Through consultations at my Leamington cosmetic surgery practice, I can show prospective patients before and after photographs, illustrating what is possible, and can arrange for them to speak to previous patients before they make the decision whether or not to go ahead with surgery.