Although cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are frequently talked of interchangeably, they are different. Cosmetic surgery is performed on normal healthy structures of the body in order to change or improve the patient’s appearance and elevate their self-esteem. Plastic and reconstructive surgery is different to cosmetic surgery because it is performed to improve function or repair appearance impaired by congenital defects, disease or trauma.
When considering a cosmetic procedure you want to be sure that you get all of the information you need to make an informed choice.
Be sure of what it is that you are trying to correct. This is more important than concentrating on asking about a specific procedure because there will usually be a number of different options to achieve the result you seek.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you do not understand something, then say so. Any competent doctor will want you to understand everything to your satisfaction, and it will help your doctor understand what you are trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter if you think the questions are minor – if they worry you then they are important.
Every procedure, whether it is an operation or a non-surgical procedure, carries an element of risk. This is important to understand and discuss during your consultation.
Some risks are minor, such as redness or bruising after an injection. Some risks are more serious, such as severe infection, scarring or unevenness.
Sometimes a procedure may not turn out the way a patient would like, despite the best appropriate efforts. Sometimes patients hope for a result that is difficult or sometimes impossible to achieve. It is important for both you and your doctor to make sure that expectations are realistic and reasonably achievable.
You need to make sure your doctor discusses risks and complications with you to your satisfaction. If you are not sure then you should not proceed.
You should consider seeking a second opinion before having any invasive elective procedure.
If you feel the outcome of your procedure is not appropriate or if there has been a complication, first draw your concerns to the attention of your doctor. They are usually in the best position to respond and ensure the best outcome.
If you are uncomfortable voicing your concerns with your doctor personally, talk to the nurse or other clinic staff and ask them to convey your concerns to the doctor. Hopefully with everyone working as a team, the problems can be rectified. However, if you feel you cannot approach the clinic with your concerns or if you wish to make a complaint about your treatment, there are a number of options available to you. All ACCS Fellows and Members must adhere to a strict and enforceable Code of Practice.
Accordingly, you may:
- Lodge a complaint with the College, which will be acknowledged and placed before an investigating panel with disciplinary authority.
- Lodge a complaint with your state or territory health care complaints commission – a government body specially tasked to investigate and advise on patients’ health complaints.
- Lodge a complaint with the Medical Registration Board in your State.
Seek legal redress against the practitioner by engaging a solicitor.