Choosing a surgeon for cosmetic surgery could be one of the most important decisions you make. You’re putting your looks, your health and a significant sum of money in the hands of another person and the results can often be life-changing.

When you’re searching for a cosmetic surgeon and arranging consultations, here are some of the fundamental factors you should take into account.

1. Make sure that the cosmetic surgeon your speaking to is accredited.

It may seem obvious, but they should be listed on the General Medical Council’s list of specialist plastic surgeons and it is advisable that they are also a member of either the British Association of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeons or the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. It also makes sense to stay in the UK, too. Temptingly cheap operations in places like Eastern Europe and Turkey have become increasingly popular but bring their own risks. These countries don’t always carry the same safeguards in place and it is highly unlikely that you will receive the same level of care and attention from your cosmetic surgeon as you would in the UK.

2. Avoid the hard sell.

If you feel the surgeon is pushing you into a certain type of treatment rather than listening to what you want, then you probably need to go somewhere else. It’s really important that they cover all the potential risks with you, as well as discuss the likely outcome of the work. Bear in mind also that their view of what’s appropriate might be different to yours so ask to see photos of their work and get references.

3. Check out the facilities.

It’s not just about the cosmetic surgeon. It’s also about the hospital or clinic where your procedure will be performed. Travelling a long distance, even within the UK, might add additional stress to an already traumatic experience.

4. Get a second opinion.

This is a significant investment of time and money and so a good cosmetic surgeon will. Not be surprised or offended if you get a second opinion. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions even ones that may seem a bit rude. Make sure that the cosmetic surgeon is specialised in the area you’re looking at. A surgeon with a great reputation for rhinoplasty might not be the best place to go for liposuction, for example.

5. Talk about the recovery period.

Cosmetic surgery procedures such as a tummy tuck, facelift or breast reduction are significant surgical operations and so it’s important to find a surgeon who clearly communicates what’s likely to happen after the operation and what you need to do to help the body heal as quickly as possible. An honest and open approach should make you feel reassured that you understand the risks. It’s also vital that you follow this advice to the letter.

The key thing with cosmetic surgeon choice is to do your homework, ask the right questions and make sure you feel comfortable with your surgeon. If you’re unsure then get a second opinion.