Can You Get Free Rhinoplasty on the NHS
Rhinoplasty on the NHS
Under certain select circumstances, you may be able to have a nose job carried out on the NHS.
However, as rhinoplasty surgery is normally viewed as being cosmetic surgery, it is more often the case that you will need to have this procedure carried out at a private clinic. In order to have rhinoplasty or a “nose job” carried out on the NHS, it will need to be demonstrated that the procedure is medically necessary, not aesthetically preferable. A functional defect that impairs your breathing, for example, would be deemed reason enough for medically essential corrective surgery.
If you think you may qualify, you should first make an appointment with your GP to discuss your options. They will assess your case and offer expert opinion regarding whether or not you will be able to have the surgery carried out on the NHS. If this is deemed to be the case, they can make a referral for you to meet with a surgeon, who will examine your nose in greater detail. You may also have to undergo a psychological assessment to determine your capability and suitability for the surgery. Should the surgeon, psychologist or any other party deem you mentally unprepared to undergo a rhinoplasty, you will not be able to pursue to procedure on the NHS.
Clinical Commissioning Groups
Whether you can get a rhinoplasty on the NHS will now often depend on your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCP). That is a body made up of all the GP groups in your area, part of a system that replaced the old primary care trust model in 2013. The main role of CCGs is to decide which centres and medical staff should carry out particular treatments, but they also now have authority over the provision of elective surgery in their area.
NHS Treatment Process
The first step towards getting NHS-funded rhinoplasty is visiting your GP and asking for a referral to a specialist consultant. You cannot go directly to a specialist without a referral if you want NHS funding. As well as being seen by a specialist, you may have to go through counselling and a psychological evaluation before a final decision is made about whether you can get funding. Normally the specialist will make the decision, following the relevant CCG's guidelines. There is no appeal process if you are turned down.
If you are not eligible for NHS-funded rhinoplasty, or if you do not want to be on a waiting list for treatment, you can get the surgery privately. Treatment often starts at around £3,000, though prices can vary. You may have to pay more in particular areas of the country such as in central London. You should also check what aftercare is included in the cost of treatment. Given the cost of the surgery, some clinics offer financing options, though make sure you understand the long-term costs of any interest charges.
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Usually you will be eligible for rhinoplasty on the NHS if your nose is causing functional problems. This could mean that a problem with your nose is causing you difficulty breathing, leads to sinus problems, or causes headaches. However, even if you are eligible in principle, what actually happens in practice may depend on your local CCG's policies. A CCG will often class rhinoplasty for medical reasons as a low priority, meaning you will face a very long wait before getting the treatment with NHS funding. It is even possible a CCG might have rules on how severe the effects of a nose defect must be before it will fund rhinoplasty.
The NHS does sometimes fund cosmetic treatments where a nose defect is causing serious psychological, social or mental health issues and where treatment will therefore benefit your overall health. Exactly how this works will be determined by your CCG's policy. In many cases, all the CCGs in a particular region of the country will band together to adopt a common policy.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The primary advantage of undergoing rhinoplasty on the NHS is the fact that it will not cost you anything financially to do so.
Unlike when you undergo treatment at a private clinic, you will not have to pay anything to have your nose job carried out. However, the disadvantage of going through the NHS is the lengthy process and waiting time that is involved. It can often be that there is a long list of people before you, and so even if you are granted surgery, you may have to wait up to 18 months to obtain it. If you are in considerable discomfort as a result of your deformity or defect, you may wish to have surgery carried out privately to expedite the process.
Choosing a Surgeon
Once you have decided to undergo a rhinoplasty, you will need to decide upon a cosmetic surgeon to carry out this procedure.
The best place to start when looking for a trusted and qualified surgeon is with your GP. By making an appointment and discussing your needs, they will be able to point you in the direction of local private and NHS surgeons (if you qualify) that may be able to help. As they are already aware of your medical history, they will be able to alert you to any complications or issues, helping you make a more informed choice. It is important to visit many clinics, and to ask for lots of referrals and testimonials to compare each one. You may wish to enquire about the surgeon’s experience conducting this kind of procedure, before asking after their education and qualifications. You can take notes from your GP appointment to ask about your specific case, and ask more general questions about the procedure too, such as the cost (and whether any financing options are available), the recovery time, and post-operative care available.
It is recommended that you choose a local surgeon, and that you ensure the clinic or hospital at which they are operating is registered under the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Qualifications To Look For
It is important to ensure your surgeon has the right qualifications before entrusting them to carry out your rhinoplasty surgery.
Any surgeon with the letters "FRCS (Plast)" after their name has obtained specialist qualifications from the Royal College of Surgeons, and as they are a “Fellow”, they have graduated with the training and ability to carry out all types of cosmetic surgery. The letters FRCS (Otol) denote that the surgeon has obtained a specialist fellowship in otolaryngology, meaning they are able to carry out specialist ear, nose and throat surgery.
You may also come across what is termed an ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon – this is simply a shorter name for an otorhinolaryngology surgeon. They will be equipped to carry out surgery on your nose that is not only cosmetic, but also reparative. For example, if you are having treatment to fix a breathing condition but would also like the shape or size of your nose cosmetically altered in the process, your cosmetic surgeon may work alongside an ENT to carry out the procedure. You should ensure that he or she is an accredited member of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology prior to undergoing surgery.
To check whether or not your surgeon is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC), you can either search online, or call 0845 357 3456.