“People might find topics like this embarrassing or are worried about repercussions.”
A new survey has found that an astonishing 37 per cent of British people rely on ‘word of mouth’ to seek medical advice with regards to cosmetic surgery or dentistry.
They are a lot more cautious and thorough when it comes to selecting holiday packages and hiring a household handyman, with over 53 and 38 per cent saying they will ‘scrutinise’ these services.
Only 21 per cent of its 1,002 respondents, aged between 18 and 55, admit to applying the same level of care when looking for a cosmetic surgeon.
Dr Foued Hamza, a cosmetic surgeon consulting at Queen Anne Street Medical Centre off Harley Street in London, warns the danger of this widespread negligence or overly trusting attitude.
He tells DESIblitz: “Cosmetic surgery is a life changing procedure so it’s concerning that these results reveal that people aren’t taking adequate measures to research their medical practitioner sufficiently, and that they are too trusting of something as important as their health.
“Even though people might find topics like this embarrassing or are worried about repercussions, people should be fully aware of the physician-patient privilege, a legal concept, related to medical confidentiality, which protects communications between the patient and the doctor from being used against the patient in court.
“Doctors see similar cases on a daily basis so people shouldn’t be ashamed or reserved to discuss their condition or requirements.”
Besides having practised cosmetic surgery for over 20 years in different continents, Dr Hamza also regularly participates in medical research projects to continue to develop his techniques, with the goal of ensuring his patients’ safety and satisfaction.
We catch up with Dr Hamza to learn more about the key elements to consider and important steps to take when choosing a cosmetic surgeon to perform a life-changing treatment to our bodies.
What is your process of evaluating potential patients?
“When a potential patient gets in touch with me, I would initially ask them to email over photos of their body so I can visualise what it is that they would like to change. I would then book an appointment with them to assess and discuss what it is that they would like to achieve.
“I always ensure that I have at least two meetings with the client prior to the operation, including on the day before the surgery. It’s imperative that consultants give the patient time to think about the procedure so that if he/she decides to go ahead with it, they are completely convinced that it is what they want to do.
“I would advise having frequent meetings with the client in the weeks and months that follow the operation until both myself and the patient are fully satisfied with the final results. I want my customers to know that I am available to address any concerns or queries and to reassure and take care of them on a regular basis.
“If a consultant doesn’t follow the protocol care guidelines, the client might go and visit another surgeon who isn’t fully up to speed with where they are in the process, so it’s imperative for the registered cosmetic surgeon to keep in contact with their patient to ensure that their expectations have been met.
“I also take photos of the patient at every meeting from start to finish so that the patient can see the evolution of their transformation.
“The patient will see the same doctor i.e myself and my team of staff from the first meeting until the end of the aftercare process. Consistency is key.”
What if the results are not what the patients expected?
“There is never 100 per cent guarantee of the final results so it’s imperative that the consultant explains to the patient in-depth about the risks and listens to their expectations prior to the surgery.
“If the patient is unsure or if the doctor doesn’t feel as though they can meet their expectations, it is better not to go ahead with the operation. The patient will also need to sign a consent form which states that there are no guarantees.
“A general risk is that the patient isn’t happy with the results after the procedure which means that he/she hasn’t fully understood what is going to be achieved beforehand.
“The most important aspect to bear in mind is that a professional cosmetic surgeon will want to meet the patient several times before the procedure to explain everything in depth and to listen to the patient’s expectations.
“In cases where the patient requires the surgery to be redone, the patient would just need to pay the hospital fees but this will normally be assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on the hospital’s policy, as a room would have been booked in advance.
“There would be no charge for any surgery which doesn’t take place. It is best for the patient to feel confident and want to go ahead with the procedure than to regret such a life changing decision.”
Have you encountered many patients who have had procedures abroad that have gone wrong?
“This represents around 2-5 per cent of my client base, as London is steadily becoming a trusted centre for cosmetic surgery and people have started to learn the importance of working with reputable, certified doctors.
“When it comes to health issues, we always have to bear in mind the risks of unwanted consequences and be responsible for our decisions.
“Some procedures can be rectified and we’re happy to help, but what’s desired is to reduce this number and obtain a satisfying result initially rom start to finish.”
Dr Hamza’s Top Tips to consider before having Cosmetic Surgery:
1. Get Impartial Advice
“You can seek advice from the General Medical Council (GMC), but I would also tell anyone who is unsure to go and get a second opinion from another cosmetic surgeon, so that you have time to think about committing to the procedure.”
2. Ask Questions in Advance
“It is very important to enquire in depth about the procedure, risks, recovery period and what this entails. As a patient, you need to feel reassured that there is a clear process of care from start to finish.”
3. Establish Trust
“I always ensure that I see patients at least twice before surgery to confirm that they have understood everything in full, that I have taken all of their expectations into consideration and warned them of the potential risks.
“I think it would be difficult to trust a surgeon or rather let’s say I might be quite wary of someone who has said that they could perform an operation the following day after you have only met them once.”
4. Check Qualifications and Testimonials
“Qualifications are important but most people don’t understand what these actually signify in layman’s terms, so a batch of letters after someone’s name might sound rather impressive but for the consumer generally they won’t mean anything.
“You can check these by contacting the GMC and providing them with stated medical qualifications and letters after the surgeon’s name to certify that they are eligible to perform the required procedures.
“It is also important to know that they are affiliated with different societies and organisations. For example, I am on the French Board of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, registered to practice in the UK, and I am a member of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
“Testimonials from previous patients are of key significance when checking the reputation of a cosmetic surgeon. Sometimes new patients ask me about previous experience as they would like anecdotal evidence to confirm that I have carried out a similar procedure.
“In other cases, I would introduce them to previous patients who are happy to provide testimonials and reassure them.”
5. Check Consent Form
“It is imperative before any cosmetic procedure takes place that the patient discusses his/her health with the surgeon and has an honest and truthful conversation about any medication they are taking, and the surgeon must discuss the procedure in full.
“This should be backed up in writing by the use of a consent form so no procedure relies on verbal communications. The consent form is legal proof that the surgeon has discussed every aspect relating to potential risk before surgery takes place – invasive or non-invasive.
“Even if the form is completed in advance of the surgery day, the consultant must always go through the form on the day and check if anything has changed. This form is then kept on file for several years.
“Without these measures in place, people could be left in the hands of unscrupulous practitioners.”
In any case, as Dr Hamza explains, there is no one way or the best way to assess which cosmetic surgeon can give you exactly what you are looking for.
Thorough research is crucial in ensuring your health and safety during and after the procedures. But just like any other relationship in your life, you and your cosmetic surgeon must build one based on care, honesty and mutual understanding.