How to Become a Plastic Surgeon

How to Become a Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery is a specialty of medicine that deals the correction and restoration of the body. It is divided into two main fields: reconstructive surgery and body modification. Plastic surgeons are specially trained doctors that perform these procedures on a variety of patients for many different reasons.

What does a plastic surgeon do?

Plastic surgeons are physicians that perform a variety of reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. They often perform delicate and precise procedures such as skin grafts, musculoskeletal reconstruction, tissue transfers, and mastectomies, breast augmentation, face-lifts, chemical peels, collagen injections, and sexual reassignment surgeries. They work with many different patients such as those that have suffered from birth abnormalities, car accidents, burns, cancer, and other injuries. Plastic surgeons carefully plan their incisions and make sure they line up with natural skin lines and folds.

What kind of training does a plastic surgeon need?

Plastic surgeons must complete a bachelor degree and attend medical school to obtain the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Medical school education focuses on learning all of the aspects of the human body, patient care, and medical conditions. After completion of medical school, plastic surgeons must pursue residencies and fellowships in plastic surgery. They visit a variety of healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices to learn an overview of the specialty and gain hands-on experience. Depending on the program and subspecialty, plastic surgeons may complete an additional one to two years of residency.

All states require plastic surgeons to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduating from an accredited medical school, completing 1 to 7 years of graduate medical education, and passing a licensing examination. Many plastic surgeons gain board certification from the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS).

What are the prospects for a career as a plastic surgeon?

Employment of all physicians and surgeons is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increased demand for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for plastic surgeons with extensive experience and for those with specialties. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace plastic surgeons that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do plastic surgeons make?

As of October 2009, plastic surgeons with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $78,611 and $297,476. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $99,889 and $250,380 (2).

A career as a plastic surgeon is a great choice for individuals interested in serving patients and improving their appearance and function through reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. Plastic surgeons must have excellent bedside manner, be quick on their feet, and be able to effectively work independently as well as part of a team. Creativity, detail-orientation, good eye-hand coordination, and excellent communication are all essential qualities of plastic surgeons.

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