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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

What do the letters after a surgeons name mean?

All surgeons have qualifications of one sort or another and take pride in formally listing those qualifications after their name (I am no exception!). But what do all those letters mean? This short blog attempts to explain some of the more common letters seen in association with Cosmetic Surgery:

MBBS or MBChB (Medical Bachelor and Bachelor of Surgery)

This is the basic UK medical qualification that all doctors achieve when they leave medical school

BSc (Bachelor of Science - with or without Honours)

This is a University Degree based in an area of science (in my case, neuroscience)

MA or MSc (Master of Arts or Master of Science)

This is a post-graduate Masters degree based either in Science or the Arts (in my case I hold a Masters degree in Medical Ethics). Please note that students who qualify from Oxford or Cambridge Universities are awarded an MA simply by virtue of the fact that they went to those Universities without having to do any further study! An historical hangover and a bugbear of mine...

MD or PhD (Medical Doctorate or Philosophy Doctorate)

These represent a period spent in formal research. This is usually 2 years for MD and 3 years for PhD. The qualification is awarded for successfully defending a thesis.

MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons)

This is awarded to junior trainees who have completed BASIC surgical training. It is not an indication of specialist training and one would expect an aspiring surgeon to achieve this qualification after 2 years of basic surgical training. It requires the candidate to pass a written exam, a clinical exam, and a viva voce (oral) exam. A trainee surgeon can use the title 'Mr' with this qualification, so be aware that 'Mr' does not equal 'Consultant'

FRCS(plast) (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons specialising in Plastic Surgery)

This is the most important qualification. It confirms that the holder has passed their exit specialty examination in Plastic Surgery to UK standards. It consists of two written examinations followed, 3 months later, by examined clinical patient encounters and viva voce (oral) examinations. If a surgeon does not hold this qualification, there is no guarantee as to the quality of their training in Plastic Surgery.

In addition to these qualifications, see my previous blog for additional information regarding the GMC Specialist Register and membership of BAPRAS or BAAPS

Be safe, be informed!

As ever, all comments welcome

Friday, 11 October 2013

The DOs and DON'Ts of choosing where and by whom to have plastic surgery

Choosing to go under the knife is a difficult decision. There is an agony of choice that goes hand in hand with any procedure: Which surgeon? Which hospital? This short blog gives my own opinion as to how to best go about making that decision a little easier:


  • Your research - not all surgeons are equally qualified to do the job, and neither do all private hospitals offer the same quality of care
  • Ask friends or relatives who have had surgery for some advice
  • Speak to your GP - perhaps they know a reputable surgeon and hospital
  • Visit the clinics and ask questions - reputable clinics have nothing to hide and will be happy to answer
  • Ask your surgeon about his/her qualifications/experience/complications
  • Ask about the procedure itself AND the aftercare that can be expected
  • Ask how much it all costs and if there are any hidden costs
  • Choose a surgeon who is on the GMC Specialist Register in Plastic Surgery
  • Choose a surgeon who holds the FRCS(plast) qualification
  • Choose a surgeon who is a member of BAPRAS or BAAPS
  • Choose a surgeon who holds (or has held) a NHS Consultant post - these are highly competitive positions and NHS surgeons are subject to large amounts of oversight


  • Assume that a good deal is a good deal - you usually get what you pay for
  • Go abroad for your surgery - it may appear cheaper, but the pieces too often get picked up back home
  • Accept to talk to anyone other than your operating surgeon in your consultations
  • Be fooled by 'special deals' - trying to get you through the door in that manner is unethical practice and should ring alarm bells as to the ethical standards of that clinic
  • Feel pressured into having surgery EVER
  • Rush your decision - a good surgeon and clinic will not operate within 2 weeks of your first consultation and will usually offer a free second consultation prior to any surgery
  • Assume that big is better - larger cosmetic chains are businesses first and foremost. They look at the bottom line. You don't seriously think that the cost savings from using PIP implants was passed to patients do you?

The list is by no means exhaustive and I welcome comments and suggestions. Be safe!