Is cosmetic eyelid surgery available on the NHS?
Purely cosmetic surgery such as for the purposes of making people look younger is neither available on the NHS or through private medical insurance schemes. These are usually paid for via patient self funding.
However, some types of oculofacial surgery to reverse or minimise the disfiguring effects of a disease process are sometimes available as part of patient rehabilitation e.g. eyelid lowering surgery for thyroid eye disease, and are thus available on both the NHS and via private medical insurance schemes. So how do I choose my surgeon?
In the USA, there are many institutions or ‘boards’ which offer certification or membership to different doctors and doctors often declare membership of different boards as a qualification of their surgical expertise. It is often confusing that some doctors often declare certification of different boards/institutions when there are many different institutions each with their own membership criteria and certification criteria. Indeed some have commented that the reason why there seem to be so many certification boards is because there is a lack of regulation of the entire US cosmetic surgery system with each group of surgery provider having its own certification board often because of competing commercial interests.
In the UK, cosmetic surgery is similarly often performed by a bewildering variety of practitioners e.g. plastic surgeons, ear nose and throat surgeons (ENT/otolaryngologists), general surgeons, ophthalmologists, general surgeons, dermatologists...even some beauty therapists! In recognition of this fact, many of the Royal Colleges which represent each of the individual subspecialties of medical practitioners who offer cosmetic surgery, have issued a joint statement as advice for patients. Click here to view
Making an informed choice about whether or not to have surgery and also who to perform it is a difficult and important decision that should not be taken lightly. For this reason, one should try and research the options carefully and thoroughly. Many independent sources can offer useful advice on cosmetic surgery e.g. UK Department of Health. Often, the ultimate decision is based not only on qualifications/credentials, location, convenience and reputation/personal recommendation.
Although the cost of procedure is obviously important to the individual, it should be stressed that this should not become a high priority in deciding between surgeons. Cheap surgery may be more ‘expensive’ in the long run!Useful Links/Files:British Oculoplastic Surgery Society
Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee Advice