Cosmetic surgery is becoming more popular. Over 100.000 cosmetic surgeries are carried out each year in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the quality of care cannot be guaranteed everywhere. A lot goes wrong and plastic surgeons often must deal with restoration operations of treatments that haven’t been done correctly. Often it involves an incompetent doctor, complications that were not timely dealt with, or lack of after care for patients who chose to have the surgery done abroad.

We also see an increase in the number of intermediaries. They offer so-called ‘expert advice’ on-line to customers who are considering cosmetic surgery. They earn a lot of money by doing this. The Dutch Association for Plastic Surgeons (NVPC) warns about the large variety between clinics, doctors and surgeries within the cosmetic surgery branch.

 5 golden rules

You are considering having cosmetic surgery. Think beforehand exactly what it is that you want and why. Look at the different options to achieve this goal, both surgical and non-surgical. Take your time with this decision, no matter how much you want the surgery. It is really important to have looked at all the options and to find the right surgeon. You will only get the desired results if you have the surgery done for the right reasons, and by a skilled surgeon who understands your wishes.
Below are the 5 golden rules that will help you to make a well informed decisions when choosing a certain surgery or doctor. This will reduce the chance of you being disappointed.

  • 1. Think well beforehand what changes you wish to see and what results you expect.

  • 2. Determine where and by whom you wish to be treated.

  • 3. Discuss your wishes and expectations with the plastic surgeon.

  • 4. Take enough time to think about it after your initial discussion or consultation.

  • 5. Choose wisely: is after care included? What exactly do I get for my money?

1. Think well beforehand what changes you wish to see and what results you expect.

Once you know what surgery you would like, try to gather as much information as possible. Should you not yet have decided which surgery you would like, but you know what you would like to change, show this to the surgeon in front of a mirror. Try to get a good visual together with the surgeon of the desired results and whether this is achievable.

2. Determine where and by whom you wish to be treated.

Should you be considering cosmetic surgery, make sure that the surgeon has the necessary qualifications. Do some research on their experience or ask about it during the consultation. Some doctors call themselves a plastic surgeon, but they are not. You can find all registered plastic surgeons on this website A general medical practitioner who is not specialised, is only registered as a doctor. Plastic surgery is the only specialism that includes cosmetic surgery in their education. Some plastic surgeons specialise themselves further, after their education, for certain specific treatments.

Almost all plastic surgeons who do cosmetic surgery are a member of the NVPC ( and a member of the Dutch Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (NVEP, Being a member of these associations says something about the specialisation of the surgeon. It also shows that the surgeon regularly trains so that the quality of care remains good. There is often more information about the surgeon on the clinic’s website. Look for references to trainings, associations and congresses. With regards to the clinic that you are considering, walk around and see if you get a good vibe. 

3. Discuss your wishes and expectations with the plastic surgeon.

Your discussion with the surgeon is very important. He is, after all, the one who is going to operate and is also the only one who can say whether your wishes are feasible or not.

Try to describe your problem or wish as clearly as possible. Therefore, don’t just say you don’t like your nose, but say what you don’t like about it. Do you think that your nose is too big, too small or too crooked? This way the surgeon can get an indication as to whether he can help you, and if your expectations can be met. You can also ask to see photos of others whom the surgeon has operated on. It is important that he tells you a number of things during the discussion. You should at least be informed about:

  • The surgery: how will the surgery be done, will it be done under general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic, how long will the surgery take, and will I have stitches?
  • The recovery period: What are you allowed and not allowed to do, do you have to wear any specific clothing and for how long, will you be in pain after the surgery, and when are you allowed to go back to work?
  • What are the possible risks and complications?
  • Are there any alternatives to the surgery?

Should you not be comfortable with the surgeon, or have not been sufficiently informed, we advise you to not let the surgeon perform the surgery.

4. Take enough time to think about it after your initial discussion or consultation.

Even if you are sure that you would like the surgery to go ahead after your initial discussion, it is still wise to take enough time to think about it. Try to avoid the temptation to immediately go under the knife.

You’ve had your first consultation and have looked at the options together with the surgeon and what surgery you would possible like to have done. Do some more research and allow time for the discussion to sink in. Do you feel confident? Do you have any other questions or queries? Do you still support your decision? Would you like a second opinion?

Once you have made your decision, you should – all being well – be happy and be 100% behind your decision. Should that not be the case, find out what your concerns are and postpone the surgery. It is compulsory to wait 24 hours after the discussion and before the surgery in the Netherlands.

5. Choose wisely: is after care included? What exactly do I get for my money?

Having cosmetic surgery done is a big step. Make sure that you are 100% behind your decision. And know what you’re signing for. It is also important to know if the after care is well organised. Every medical surgery can have complications, even cosmetic surgery. Ask how complications are dealt with at the clinic of your choice. Is the clinic available at night and on the weekend? Can you always talk to a doctor? Does the clinic have an arrangement with a local hospital? Should the desired results not be achieved, this can be seen as a complication – how will the doctor or clinic proceed? Furthermore, it is important to know what is included in the price. That way you avoid any unexpected surprises. For example: check whether all the consultations before and after the surgery are included in the price. Including a possible overnight stay, bandages, bras, compression pants or other supplies. If everything is clear beforehand, then you will not be confronted with any unexpected financial surprises.


There is a commercial aspect to cosmetic surgery. This can have a huge effect on the quality of the care given. There are a lot of providers and offers, which raise certain questions. If an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Recognised plastic surgeons are not allowed to offer promotional discounts.

The biggest problem in this sector is that doctors, without a specialised surgical education or the correct qualifications, are still allowed to perform cosmetic surgery. Every general practitioner in the Netherlands can call himself a cosmetic or aesthetic doctor. This can mislead patients.

Do you feel confident? Listen to your instincts and don’t do business with them. Should you choose for an operation abroad, have you thought about good after care? We realise that this can seem very appealing. But in practice we see this happen only far too often: problems caused by surgery that hasn’t been done correctly, or surgery that was carried out under incorrect circumstances and without after care. If you stick to our 5 golden rules, then the chances of an unpleasant experience are very slim.