Your Guide to Cosmetic Treatment - First Clinic Visit

Danielle Lowe
By Danielle Lowe

Danielle Lowe is the Marketing Manager for ConsultingRoom.com, (www.consultingroom.com) the UK’s largest aesthetic information website. 


So, you’re probably reading this because you’re interested in seeking out a clinic for some kind of cosmetic treatment. Well, you’re in the right place!
 
Let Consulting Room, guide you through the process of gathering information about surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments and products, as well as cosmetic dental services, hair loss solutions and laser eye surgery, and help you towards making the best decision on purchasing such services through a UK or Ireland based clinic.
 
Our guides will give you suggestions about how you may approach selecting a clinic or practitioner who provides any cosmetic procedure that you decide to undertake, the questions you need to think about asking and the things you need to consider to make sure that you make the right decision and choice for you, and you alone.
First visit to a clinic...
 
Setting foot inside a medical cosmetic clinic, albeit to discuss having an elective procedure (rather than being treated for a health-altering medical condition), can feel like a daunting exercise the first time that you do it. You are bound to feel a little nervous about the unknown.
 
Normally the first face you will see is a receptionist or clinic manager as you arrive. They will undoubtedly help to put you at ease and may offer you some refreshments whilst you complete any paperwork required by the clinic.
 
First Clinic Visit
The person you will initially see to discuss any cosmetic treatment will depend on the particular set-up of the clinic (and the treatment itself). It may be that you will not see the practitioner, (the doctor, surgeon, dentist, nurse, aesthetician etc.) who may subsequently carry out the treatment, but a patient adviser or sales consultant instead. This is particularly the case in larger clinic chain businesses that offer cosmetic surgery or laser eye surgery. They see many individuals on a daily basis, so practitioners are left to carry out operations rather than get involved with initial discussions, but will be present at second-stage consultations. In most smaller clinics, which offer non-surgical medical aesthetics or cosmetic dentistry services, you will usually consult with the person who treats you. 
 
If you see a patient adviser, they will often have expert knowledge about the treatments that the clinic offers and be able to answer many, if not all, of your questions. They should be able to put you at ease about the procedure you are thinking of having and explain all the potential risks. Do bear in mind though that they are probably still trying to “sell” to you and will work on commission if you go forward to have a consultation with their surgeon and have the surgery.
 
You should not feel at all pressurised into having any treatment, and with surgery particularly, there should be a “cooling off period” of at least two weeks between your consultation (with the actual surgeon who will perform the procedure and not the patient adviser) and any surgical procedure you may decide to have. 
 
Your Guide to Cosmetic Treatment - Which Clinic
Clinics and medical practitioners are not allowed by law to hurry you into making a decision make you think that if you don’t sign today then you won’t get the price that they’re offering, or pressure you into having more than one operation as that way there is a discount. So if this happens we advise that you just walk away!
 
It is important, however, that you meet the practitioner who will be carrying out your treatment before you finally commit to anything. This is particularly important if you are going to have any form of cosmetic surgery. The first time you meet the surgeon should not be on the day of your operation!
How to prepare for your first appointment:
  • Take a list of questions you may have for the practitioner or a patient adviser.
  • Take a list of any medications that you are taking for reference; (taking certain medicines can mean that you may be unsuitable for certain treatments due to adverse effects).
  • For some treatments it is also important to know if you have any medical reasons which would prevent you from having the procedure. Please be prepared to answer any questions relating to your past medical history, and your family’s medical history (if appropriate) and inform the practitioner if you are pregnant or currently trying for a baby, or have recently given birth – it may be important.
  • For cosmetic surgery, medical aesthetic and hair loss procedures it can be useful to bring some photos to provide a visualisation for the practitioner of the results that you desire. This could include photographs of yourself from a few years ago to highlight the more youthful lines you wish to try and recapture, or the hairline you once had. Ideally don’t take in celebrity photos hoping that you will be able to look like them. By all means, use them as a way of highlighting results that you DON’T desire. 
  • Be prepared to sign a consent form for any treatment that you may subsequently agree to undertake – but please ensure that you read it properly first.
 
Things to watch out for in your first visit to a clinic:
  • Beware of a practitioner or patient adviser who fails to listen to your concerns, or fails to bring the risks and complications of your chosen procedure to your attention.
  • Be wary if they start pointing out other areas of your face or body that they may be able to treat that you are not concerned about.
  • Remember, just because you have your heart set on a particular product being used or a treatment being performed, it doesn’t mean your practitioner will agree. This isn’t necessarily bad as they may recommend something different that will more effectively treat your concern. However, you should be prepared if that happens, and not just blindly agree to the ‘new’ option if you are unsure that you know enough about it or want to have it done. Feel free to tell the practitioner that this is new information and that you’d like to go away and do some more research, or read the guidance documentation that they have given to you before you decide to go ahead.
  • Trust your instincts. Look at how clean the clinic is, the friendliness of the reception staff, how much time you have for your consultation and whether they try to rush you into a decision. If you have a bad feeling about someone or something - there’s usually a reason and you should just leave.
Below is a list of suggested questions to ask during an initial consultation for cosmetic treatment, (ideally with the practitioner). It is not an exhaustive list and not all of these questions will be appropriate for you.
It is not an exhaustive list and not all of these questions will be appropriate for you. It is meant to be a useful guide so that you can highlight the questions that you do wish to ask at your consultation. 
 
In addition, you may want to think about additional, more detailed questions, which are pertinent to individual treatments or procedures, such as surgical variations, the choice of techniques or products used for dermal filling, breast augmentation, dental implants, laser eye surgery or hair transplantation for example.
What questions to ask when attending a clinic
Examples of general questions to ask if you are thinking of having either non-surgical or surgical cosmetic treatments administered by a medical practitioner:
  1. Ask what treatment options are suitable for you for the area that you are interested in improving?
  2. How do they compare in terms of expected results, the longevity of results, pain/Discomfort, recovery time, safety, risks and cost?
  3. Are there any medical reasons why you would not be suitable for any of these procedures?
  4. How often, if at all, Will the procedure need to be repeated?
  5. What Will happen on the day of my treatment/Surgery?
  6. Will I need to take any time off work? If so how Long?
  7. What can I do pre-treatment or pre-surgery to ensure that I achieve the optimum results? (Consider this if you smoke, engage in regular Sun tanning, eat unhealthily, do not exercise, regularly drink alcohol in quantities above-recommended guidelines etc., as lifestyle changes can have an effect on improving outcomes for Many treatments, so taking advice, acting on it and even delaying treatment May be important).
  8. How Many of the procedures, that you are interested in, do they perform every month?
  9. Can I view your before & after treatment photographs?
  10. May I speak with any of your patients who have had similar procedures? Do you have a patient/Referral list so that I May call them?
  11. Do you offer any treatment guarantees (i.e. Another procedure if this one doesn’t work?) Can I have this in writing?
  12. Will I see the same practitioner for a follow-up evaluation of my results at a later date? 
  13. Are costs quoted all-inclusive, or are there any additional extras?
  14. Can I have a full written quotation outlining all of the costs of the procedure, and any additional costs, if I need any subsequent treatment or surgery to deal with problems or improve on any initial results?
  15. Does the clinic offer finance options?
  16. Who is the (Sales) Contract with? The clinic or the individual practitioner/Surgeon?
  17. Who is responsible if there is a problem?
  18. Is the practitioner resident in the UK or visiting from abroad? Do they have UK practising permissions and medical indemnity insurance cover?
  19. Has the practitioner ever been involved in any medical malpractice complaints? If yes, find out the details.


Additional questions if you are considering more extensive surgical procedures, or those requiring an anaesthetic.

  1. For plastic/Cosmetic surgeons only – are they on the UK specialist register for plastic surgery (Have frcs(Plast) After their Name) – if not, why not?
  2. Are operations performed under general, light sleep sedation or any other anaesthesia? Which is preferred and why?
  3. Is the consultant anaesthetist on the UK specialist register?
  4. Must I abide by any special diet, both pre-operatively and post-operatively?
  5. Where Will my operation be performed? Does the surgeon have an affiliation with a particular hospital? It is registered with the care quality commission (England) Or other national regulators?
  6. What is your protocol for post-operative care? Will I need to have an overnight stay in the hospital/Clinic after my surgery? What level of pain/Discomfort can I expect to experience?
  7. What can I do post-surgery to ensure that I achieve the optimum results?
  8. If I were to choose to undergo the surgery and I had a complication, what support can I expect? Is help available after hours as well? What if the practitioner is a non-uk resident?
 questions to ask if you are considering surgical procedures
Rating a clinic or practitioner...
 
You may or may not schedule a date for treatment at the end of a consultation, (for some non-invasive, cosmetic treatment options, such as those within medical aesthetics, you may be able to embark on treatment after the consultation has completed, if you wish) - you are by no means obligated to have or book an appointment to pursue a treatment, and as we recommend that you visit more than one provider (especially for cosmetic surgery procedures) it is advisable for you to think about your choices first.
 
Following your consultation with a practitioner (i.e. the person doing the procedure), you should have enough information to consider, and you should also be able to request a second meeting if need be, should you feel that you need to ask any additional questions in order to reach a decision.
 
Again, it can be useful to jot down a few notes both during and after the consultation. This is helpful, especially when you are going on several consults, as recommended. It’s very easy to get mixed up!
 
In order to make an objective comparison between different clinics and practitioners we suggest that you compare qualities such as:
  • Attitude of staff
  • Appearance and cleanliness of the clinic/hospital
  • Patient information materials that you were given and/or shown
  • Whether the consultation was relaxed, yet informative
  • The qualifications, experience and training of the practitioner
  • Whether all your questions were answered
  • Whether a client referral list was available or if you were able to view before and after treatment photos for other clients.
From this, you should be able to decide for yourself what your overall satisfaction rating would be for the clinic and practitioner and how confident you would feel in visiting them for the treatment that you are considering.
 
Things to remember when thinking about cosmetic treatment...
  • Do it for you
  • Don’t feel rushed or under pressure
  • Cheap is not always the best option
  • Do your own research about the treatment and learn as much as you can
  • Speak to more than one clinic or practitioner
  • Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable in your decision
  • If it doesn’t feel right, or you don’t fully understand what you have been told, then don’t do it!
 
Want to read more in our guide to cosmetic treatment series?

Guide to Cosmetic Treatment - Which Treatment? 

Your Guide to Cosmetic Treatment - Which Questions to Ask 

Your Guide to Cosmetic Treatment Abroad

 

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