Globally, rhinoplasty is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), it is the sixth most common surgical procedure among women and the top surgical procedure among men.
However, because of the very nature of the procedure, it remains expensive, usually costing £7,000 to £10,000 in the UK. For this reason, many people wonder if the surgery can be covered by the NHS or even private medical insurance.
But the problem is that a nose job can be both cosmetic and/or functional. While a functional rhinoplasty may be free, a cosmetic one is unlikely to be.
Still, in some cases, the NHS does cover the cost of this procedure. In this guide, you’ll learn how to get a free nose job in the UK, and if not, what other options you have.
Can You Get A Free Nose Job In The UK?
You may only be able to get a free nose job in the UK if you have a medical/functional issue with your nose. This can include breathing problems or any nose injuries or accidents.
In these instances, the surgery is considered reconstructive rather than cosmetic, and that might be covered by the NHS and private insurance.
However, if you’re looking for a free cosmetic nose job in the UK, you’re unlikely to be able to get one. The NHS explicitly states that rhinoplasty is “not usually available” when done for cosmetic purposes. But it may be covered if you have a reconstructive need.
One example of it is septoplasty – a surgical procedure that straightens a deviated septum to treat breathing problems or sinus issues. Then there’s also a septorhinoplasty that combines a septoplasty with a nose job.
You may be able to get that on the NHS if you have a deforming injury. However, if it’s just for cosmetic reasons, it’s not usually available.
And keep in mind that this doesn’t only go for the NHS. Even private medical insurance in the UK is unlikely to cover the cost of an elective procedure. It needs to be considered a “medical necessity” for you to be eligible.
Who Can Get Free Nose Surgery In The UK?
You’re likely to get a free nose surgery in the UK if you have a structural or functional issue with your nose due to:
- Genetic conditions
- Accidents, burns or injury
- Health problem
For instance, if you have nasal polyps that require surgical removal, you may be suggested surgery for this by your GP.
Similarly, if a traumatic event has damaged the tissues of your nose, you may be eligible for a reconstructive nose job.
Can You Get A Nose Job On The NHS For Mental Health?
The NHS does state that “occasionally” they may offer surgery for “psychological” reasons. However, even still, you might find it difficult to qualify for one.
Keep in mind that when you’re trying to get cosmetic surgery on the NHS, you may have to undergo a psychological assessment to determine if you’re really suitable.
Despite that, there have been instances where people have made false claims about their mental health just to try and qualify for this procedure on the NHS.
One very popular example of this was an internet personality Carla Belluci who claimed that she’d faked depression to get a free NHS nose job.
However, on this, the NHS Foundation Trust did respond by saying that the surgery was for an injury and not cosmetic work.
How To Apply For A Free NHS Nose Job In The UK?
If you want to apply for a free nose job on the NHS, you’ll have to go to your general practitioner (GP) first.
If you’re believed to be a suitable candidate, your GP will refer you to a specialist who will further assess your nose.
And as mentioned above, this process can also include a psychological assessment to make sure that you really qualify.
For procedures that aren’t routinely performed on the NHS, an “Individual Funding Request (IFR)” is also made by the treating clinician on your behalf.
According to NHS England, the application is further assessed by individuals who’re not part of your procedure. This can include “doctors, nurses, public health experts, pharmacists, NHS England representatives and lay members.”
If the IFR panel declines your request, you may be able to appeal within a set timeframe. But there needs to be clear grounds for this.
What To Do If You Can’t Get A Free Nose Job?
If you’re unable to get free nose surgery in the UK, there are ways in which you can get this surgery more affordably.
Flexible Payment Plan
Since it can be difficult to pay for the surgery at once, some clinics offer their patients flexible payment plans. The cost is essentially spread out over a few months.
You’ll pay a (relatively) small amount of money each month before you’re finally able to have this surgery. If you want to have this option, make sure to ask your clinic about this beforehand.
Some clinics also assist their patients in securing loans for their cosmetic procedures. They may not offer the loan directly.
Instead, they’ll connect you with third-party lenders so that your surgery can be financed. There are different loan options, like a credit card or a personal loan. However, you should further consult finance specialists for this.
Nose Job Abroad
A big reason why many people choose to have a nose surgery abroad is the more affordable cost. And when it comes to rhinoplasty, Turkey is a very popular tourist destination.
Other than getting the surgery for much cheaper (around £2,000), patients are also able to skip long queues and waiting times.
With research, you can also find surgeons who’re members of renowned international organisations like the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
Even in Turkey, there are companies that offer their patients the option of a flexible payment plan. So, if you’re unable to pay a lump sum amount, you can choose to have this.
Whether or not you can get free nose surgery in the UK depends on why you’re getting it. If it’s for functional (reconstructive) purposes, the NHS or even private insurance is likely to cover it. However, it’s not likely if the reasons are purely cosmetic.
Cosmetic surgery is considered to be of low clinical priority. Since it’s not the treatment for a life-threatening condition, it’s hardly covered by the NHS or offered on insurance.
But even if you’re not able to get this surgery for free, you can get it more affordably (or pay for it more easily) through other means. But no matter where you are, make sure to do your research to find the right surgeon.