Can I have nose reshaping surgery (rhinoplasty) on the NHS?

Cosmetic surgery is not usually paid for by the NHS but if you can show that there is a medical need then the NHS might pay for your procedure.

If your nose is causing you physical distress such as difficult with breathing, problems with your sinuses or headaches then this is what constitutes a medical need. Also, if you have a congenital defect which was present for at birth then again, this is a good reason for surgery.

If however, you are looking to change the shape of your nose because you are unhappy with the way it looks or feel that a new nose would improve your job prospects then this tends to be seen as a ‘lifestyle decision’.

And, in this case, the state is unlikely to pay.

If you do feel that you have a genuine case then start by discussing this with your GP. Your GP can refer you to an NHS plastic surgeon and you need this referral before you go any further. You will also have to undergo a psychological assessment by either a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

The NHS will have a set of stringent rules for who is suitable for surgery. They will be concerned with the amount of benefit to be gained by rhinoplasty. The greater the benefit for your social, health and physical wellbeing the greater the chance of you having this surgery.

As you are all too aware, the NHS had limited funding and has to allocate funding to where it most needed, and will give the greatest benefits. Cosmetic surgery tends to come some way down the list of priorities and so you need to have a strong case for NHS treatment.

If you are turned down by the NHS then you are looking at surgery as a private patient. This means finding a good, reputable cosmetic provider. Prices for rhinoplasty vary from one provider but do not be guided by price alone. We realise that this is an important factor but what you want more than anything is a highly qualified and experienced surgeon.

One option if you are thinking of going private is to apply for help from your private healthcare provider. If you have taken out private medical insurance and can demonstrate the same ‘medical need’ then your insurer may pay. Check with your insurance company.

Another option is to look at going abroad for surgery as prices can be cheaper than here in the UK. However, this is not without its pitfalls and our next question deals with this in more detail.

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