Cosmetic Surgery on the NHS

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Some cosmetic surgeries are available on the NHS. Whilst there are heavy restrictions on what they will provide it is worth discussing your surgery with your GP if the reason that you are considering surgery has a negative impact on your physical or mental wellbeing. In order to be considered for NHS cosmetic surgery your GP must refer you making it clear that you comply with national and local guidelines. Once the consultant has reviewed your case, they may require you to have a psychological assessment.

What procedures are available on the NHS?

It is very unlikely that you will get cosmetic surgery on the NHS. Nevertheless, there are a small number of procedures available, which are considered to dramatically improve your physical or mental health. The NHS will nose reshaping if you are having trouble breathing and eyelid reduction if your vision is impaired by the size of your eyelids.

The NHS will also do breast reduction surgery. In order to qualify you must suffer from severely unbalanced breasts, infections under your breasts or the size of your breasts must be causing you back pain, shoulder pain, or breathing difficulties. It is also possible to get breast implants if your breasts are uneven or extremely underdeveloped.

It may also be possible to get abdominal surgery (a tummy tuck) on the NHS. A few areas offer this as a post-pregnancy option if you suffered from polyhydramnios (a condition in which the uterus is overfilled with amniotic fluid). You may also be eligible for abdominal surgery if you have excessive skin folds or functional problems due to weight loss, severe scarring which is causing psychological distress or if you suffer from infections underneath skin folds.

What are the restrictions for NHS cosmetic surgery?

For all NHS cosmetic surgeries there are restrictions, which limit the number of people eligible for surgery. Guidelines vary from area to area and often depend on the individual surgeon. This means that the likelihood that you will be treated on the NHS varies depending on your area. There is a national guideline stating that you must not be obese, with a BMI of over 30, to be considered for surgery. Some local guidelines are stricter than this requiring you to have a healthy BMI of between 18 and 25. Sometimes your BMI has to have remained at a stable level for a certain amount of time. Local guidelines often state that you must not be a smoker to undergo cosmetic surgery. When being considered for breast surgery many local NHS practices state that you must have a minimum or maximum cup size or that your breasts must differentiate in size by a certain amount. As these figures vary your local GP is in the best position to advise you on your eligibility. It is important to note that although these guidelines are in place some practitioners do not follow them making it harder to get cosmetic surgery on the NHS in certain areas.

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