The plastic surgery team consists of surgeons, nurses, hand therapists and psychologists who specialise in altered appearance. Your appointment for a member of the plastic surgery team may be with any one of these people.
Psychologists work within the service to ensure that people receive the best possible treatment for a problem involving a change in appearance. Our work includes:
Assessment of the problem.
What impact does altered or unusual appearance have on people’s lives? Is surgery possible? If so, what do people hope this will change about their lives? Can we help people to make these changes without surgery?
Preparation for surgery
Are people ready for surgery? To reduce complications, many people need to lose some weight before we can offer procedures such as breast reduction. Similarly, people must stop smoking. We can help to set goals and implement plans for achieving behaviour change.
Are people’s expectations appropriate?
Do people understand their surgery? Do they know exactly what is planned and what it will look like? Some educational work is done individually and we also run groups where patients come together to see slides and to hear about the procedure. This enables people to learn about the risks and complications of their surgery and how they can reduce risk. They also learn how to manage their post-operative recovery.
Some patients have been injured in accidents. Managing the psychological impact of trauma is as important as managing the physical changes. Most people recover without intervention. Psychologists monitor problems and offer treatment as appropriate.
The NHS provides very little cosmetic surgery, and only on the basis of exceptional need. Both a surgical and a psychological assessment are needed to provide reports for the cosmetic surgery tribunal, which makes a final decision about each individual case.
Anxiety about appearance is not related to the extent of an injury or disfigurement. Some people with very minor changes in appearance can become excessively worried and preoccupied. Others may reach a point in treatment where surgery has achieved as much as is possible but appearance remains altered. Psychologists help in both situations by intervening to improve self-confidence and reduce appearance concerns.