Can I have blepharoplasty / eyelid surgery on the NHS?

Unless you can demonstrate that you are experiencing physical and mental discomfort then the NHS is unlikely to pay for cosmetic surgery.

They can pay for a blepharoplasty if your eyesight is being affected by drooping eyelids. However, this is subject to a set of strict criteria. If you can show a measurable benefit from this surgery then the NHS may cough up.

Every local health authority has strict guidelines on what they can fund. The NHS has a limited amount of money and this has to be allocated fairly and sensibly. It has to go where there is likely to be the most need, and, the greatest benefit.

What the NHS will consider is cosmetic surgery carried out for reconstructive purposes. So, if a woman has a breast removed (mastectomy) as a result of cancer then she may be eligible for help with breast implant surgery.

Basically, if you apply to the NHS because you want bigger breasts or a flatter tummy then you are likely to be disappointed. If, however, you approach the NHS with evidence of physical/mental stress as a result of your condition then they may pay for surgery.

If you decide to apply to the NHS then you will have to go through your GP first. He/she will decide if you have a valid reason for surgery and if so, will be able to refer you to a plastic surgeon.

This will involve a thorough consultation with him/her and, a psychological assessment. If the health authority feel that there would be a social, physical and mental benefit of having surgery then they will cover the cost.

It is a good idea to discuss your desire for surgery with your GP, irrespective of whether you are applying to the NHS or ‘going private’.

If you are unsuccessful in your application to the NHS then you will have to pay for surgery yourself. You then have the option of treatment here in the UK or abroad. It can be very tempting to go overseas for cosmetic surgery as it tends to be cheaper than the UK.

However, there are very good reasons why it costs more in the UK and you need to research this thoroughly before making this decision. Cosmetic surgery is safe but like all surgery, complications can occur.

You need to think about aftercare, how you contact your surgeon if something does go wrong, the cost of the flight and accommodation, and the standards of the clinic and the staff.

The next question offers help and advice if you are thinking of going abroad for surgery.

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