Choosing cosmetic surgery

Page last updated: 6 May 2022

If you're considering any kind of cosmetic surgery, you'll want to make sure you receive safe, compassionate and high-quality care. We've pulled together some useful tips to help you.

Check the hospital or clinic you are considering is registered with us

Find them using the search box here or call us on 03000 616161.

If the hospital or clinic is not registered with us they may be practising illegally and their insurance may not cover them or you if anything goes wrong.

We regulate cosmetic treatments carried out by a healthcare professional that involve surgical procedures

By law, services have to register with us if they offer:

  • cosmetic surgery that involves instruments or equipment being inserted into the body - this includes breast surgery, facelifts, buttock or thigh lifts, eyelid or brow surgery, nose surgery, tummy tucks or any procedure where an implant is used
  • liposuction - this includes Laser lipolysis (such as Smart Lipo)
  • refractive eye surgery or lens implant surgery
  • all types of thread lifting - for example, polydioxanone (PDO) and poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) thread lifting

We do not regulate all cosmetic treatments – only those that involve surgical procedures

We do not regulate:

  • subcutaneous injections of muscle relaxing substances used to alter appearance, like Botox®
  • subcutaneous injections of substances used to alter appearance, like dermal fillers
  • chemical peels
  • laser and intense pulse light (IPL) treatments like hair removal or skin rejuvenation
  • cosmetic procedures involving cutting or inserting instruments or equipment into the body (unless the procedure is carried out by a registered healthcare professional).
  • thread lifting carried out by someone who is not a healthcare professional. For example, a beautician.

All cosmetic treatments, including non-surgical ones, can have risks. They should always be carried out by someone trained and qualified to provide them.

One way to judge if someone is suitably trained and qualified is to see if they are on an accredited register. Practitioners do not need to register to carry out treatments, but if they are registered it can give you confidence that they are safe to practice.

This is because when someone joins an accredited register:

  • they must supply certain information, like qualifications and insurance details (if required for their accredited registration).
  • the organisation that runs the register can help if you have a concern or complaint about a member.

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) is the body that gives accreditation for voluntary registers of unregulated activities in health and social care.

Check if a practitioner is on a voluntary register accredited by the PSA.

Ask your GP to give you a referral to a surgeon

If you do not want to involve your GP, make sure you search for a qualified and reputable surgeon that has been properly trained in the type of surgery you want.

Our inspection reports can help, but you should also check that they are on the General Medical Council register.

The hospital or clinic should offer you an initial consultation with the doctor who will carry out the procedure

Make sure 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.

Take a list of questions to ask the surgeon about the procedure. Do not be afraid to ask about their qualifications or expertise in carrying it out. For example, how often they've performed it, what the risks are and how often complications occur.

They may also have had additional training in their speciality. For example, completing accreditation schemes such as those provided by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Find out about aftercare

Make sure that the hospital or clinic will provide the care you need after the operation.

Make sure the hospital or clinic tells you how much it will cost

By law, they must set out the full cost of the procedure in writing in advance.

Be wary of special offers

Please do not be tempted by deals urging you to sign up to a procedure immediately. Cosmetic surgery is a serious decision that needs proper consideration.

Read as much as you can about the procedure you are considering

You need to be sure it's right for you and that you understand exactly what's involved. Make sure your information comes from a reliable source. For example, the NHS website publishes information on different types of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

If you have any concerns or worries about the care you experienced, tell the provider – but also tell us

The information you give us helps us to monitor services and plan our inspections.

You can give feedback on care using our website, by calling 03000 616161 or by emailing

Bear in mind that we do not regulate all cosmetic treatments – only those that involve surgical procedures.

Give it careful thought

Cosmetic surgery should not be undertaken lightly and it's important to remember that all surgery, including cosmetic procedures, involves risks.

Take as much time as you need to make your decision. We strongly advise you take at least two weeks after your consultation with the operating surgeon to think things through before you have surgery.

You can change your mind at any point, and you can ask for a second opinion from another surgeon.