Time to make safe cosmetic surgery choices

The GMC has recently launched a formal public consultation on their draft new guidance to make cosmetic procedures safer. Included in this advice is doctors should be honest with patients and give them time to think before committing.

But I know I want cosmetic surgery so why should I have to wait?

Just as Mr Tariq Ahmad sees patients at his Cambridge cosmetic surgery clinic who are still hesitant about making a decision, he sees many others who are adamant that surgery is right for them. Even in the face of such certainty, Mr Ahmad will spend time discussing your decision-making process, asking about the catalyst and what you expect to change. He will also talk through what is involved, ensuring you understand the potential risks and side effects, what level of downtime and aftercare is required, and that your expectations are realistic.

Cosmetic surgery asks a great deal of your body and the results are permanent so it is imperative that any decision you make is done so with all the information to hand. A consultation with an experienced cosmetic surgeon is likely to spark new questions and thought processes so it is a good idea to allow yourself time to reflect on these.

Choose a reputable cosmetic surgeon

In the care of a highly qualified and experienced surgeon, cosmetic surgery can be wonderfully rewarding, delivering results that give your self-confidence a real boost. Trust and honesty between patient and doctor is central to the process, and, to this end, Cambridge surgeon Mr Tariq Ahmad believes in having candid conversations about a patient’s goals – and how surgery has its limitations. Those patients who have realistic expectations of their cosmetic surgery tend to be the more satisfied with the results.

Furthermore, Mr Ahmad ensures all dealings with patients are unhurried and unpressurised and he already adheres to the two-week cooling off period advised by BAAPS, the prestigious professional body of which he is a member.

Mr Tariq Ahmad on BBC Radio Cambridge discussing cleft lips and palates

As well as a busy cosmetic surgery private practice, Mr Tariq Ahmad also holds the position of Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge. He was recently invited onto BBC Radio Cambridge with Karen Harris, co-founder of CamSmile, a local charity aimed at helping those with cleft lips and palates both home and abroad.

Tariq trained in the sub-specialty of Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery in Cambridge, Edinburgh and Great Ormond Hospitals as well as training in several hospitals around the world. He discussed how cleft lip and/or palates, the most common congenital abnormality of the head and neck, are treated now in comparison to years' past.

“The training and treatment has changed a lot since I began my plastic surgery training. Every centre would have a plastic surgeon that would do a little bit of cleft work as it's very rewarding work as you can make a big difference to that patient's life.

“Now, however, you can't be really involved with cleft work unless you're part of a multi-disciplinary network. There are now fewer surgeons doing it so it concentrates experience and we're producing much better outcomes that are fully measured.

“To give you some indication, 40 or 50 years ago, a surgeon might do two or three babies a year whereas I now do 45 or 50 babies a year.”

Tariq identified the other, major factor that has improved treatment of cleft lips and palates: “In the past, plastic surgeons would perform surgery, but there was no 'joined-up care' that supported the patients and their parents. I'm just the technician in the team but we now have paediatricians, psychologists, specialist nurses, dieticians, feeding specialists, maxillofacial surgeons and ENT surgeons who all play a role.

“We all work together – we're interdependent on each other and I rely on the team to produce the best possible outcome. If you treat it well then a person with a cleft lip or palate can lead a full and absolutely normal life.”

My eyes are ageing me – what can I do?

Short of wearing sunglasses all the time, there is little one can do to disguise the ageing process at play around the eyes. With folds and creases developing a hooded effect on the upper lid, and lax muscles creating a baggy pouch on the lower, the eyes undoubtedly give away one’s age. Perhaps this is why eyelid surgery – blepharoplasty – is in demand: in 2014, it was the second most desired cosmetic surgery procedure in the UK with 7,752 operations performed, and the most popular surgery among men.

What does a blepharoplasty involve?

While eyelid surgery is enduringly popular, it is a very delicate procedure. In the hands of a skilled and experienced surgeon it can produce extremely pleasing and natural-looking results. During a Cambridge cosmetic surgery consultation Mr Tariq Ahmad will conduct a physical assessment of your eye and the condition of the muscles and tissues surrounding it. He will then tailor a surgical plan to your needs, outlining the potential risks and side effects, as well as explaining the procedure and the aftercare in detail.

The procedure itself can be performed under local or general anaesthetic and involves removing excess fatty tissue and skin and strengthening muscles where necessary. Surgery on the upper lid entails an incision along the natural crease and that on the lower lid entails an incision either below the lash line or through the back of the eyelid. Because of the thinness of the skin on the eyelids, scars tend to heal efficiently and discreetly.

What will NOT be improved by eyelid surgery?

A blepharoplasty can subtly and effectively reshape your eye in a rejuvenating fashion but it cannot get rid of your dark circles, crows’ feet or drooping brow. At his Cambridge cosmetic surgery clinic, Mr Tariq Ahmad offers the full range of treatments, including those to tackle other upper-face problems.