Here's How to Become a Plastic Surgeon (Professional Guide)

Here's how to become a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons frequently work with celebrities and others who are recuperating from diseases or injuries. They can also assist those who desire or need to modify the form of a body component. Plastic surgeons serve patients every day, whether they're doing reconstructive or cosmetic surgery.

how to become a plastic surgeon

What does a plastic surgeon do?

A plastic surgeon is a doctor who conducts procedures to change the look or shape of a patient's body. These certified medical professionals conduct reconstructive operations for patients with facial and bodily deformities caused by injury, birth defects, disease, or age, as well as aesthetic treatments such as facelifts and nose jobs.

The operations that plastic surgeons do are determined by their expertise. Patients with problems affecting the face, neck, jaws, and mouth, for example, are diagnosed and treated by craniomaxillofacial surgeons. Liposuction and breast augmentation are two procedures that cosmetic surgeons can do. On patients with burn injuries, burn surgeons can remove dead skin, graft new skin, and attempt to minimize scarring.

A plastic surgeon's other tasks and obligations include:

  • Conducting patient discussions and proposing the most effective therapies.
  • Before surgery, tests are performed.
  • Providing patient follow-up treatment after surgery.
  • Patients are referred to additional experts, such as physical therapists, to help them finish their rehabilitation.
  • Performing some administrative duties, such as updating patients' medical records.

Average salary of a plastic surgeon

There are nine states where a Plastic Surgeon's average income is higher than the national average. Massachusetts is at the top of the list, followed by Hawaii and Connecticut in second and third place, respectively. Connecticut outperforms the national average by 4.7%, while Massachusetts continues the trend with a $21,611 (6.8%) increase above the U.S. national average of $316,071 per year for a plastic surgeon.

How to become a plastic surgeon

It might take more than ten years of training and study to become a well-known plastic surgeon. Given the high skill level and hazards connected with the work, this extensive preparation is required. The following are the normal stages to become a plastic surgeon:

Complete bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is the starting point for a plastic surgeon's education. Biology, physics, and chemistry are ideal programs. Some colleges have pre-med programs that will prepare you for medical school. If you want to be a doctor, you'll need to take math, physics, chemistry, and biology lessons. If your institution doesn't offer a pre-med degree, it could have a pre-med program or track that focuses on advising and exam prep.

You must pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and submit letters of reference from mentors, professors, renowned doctors, or community members to obtain admission to a medical school. When applying to medical school, demonstrating leadership skills, working at a health care institution, and attending numerous medical conferences can all help you stand out.

Complete the four-year doctor of medicine degree

Before you can enroll in post-graduate study in plastic surgery, you must have a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree. It usually takes four years to finish an M.D. or D.O. program. Advanced anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, and pathology studies will take up your first two years of medical school. Clinical rotations will take up the next two years, during which you will acquire experience working directly with patients.

Obtain a state license

To legally conduct plastic surgery in the United States, you must first get a medical license. You must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination to acquire a license (USMLE). You must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam if you are a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) (COMLEX). Each component of the USMLE and COMLEX is designed to assess how well you apply fundamental and advanced scientific principles to the practice of medicine.

Complete your residency

You must finish a three-year residency program in general surgery after becoming a licensed physician, which involves clinical rotations in several types of surgery. After that, you can pursue a three-year residency in plastic surgery, which requires you to cycle among multiple hospitals and practices' plastic surgery wards.

Head, face, burn, and neck surgery, skin grafting and surgery, plastic microsurgery methods, and cosmetic surgical of the breast, neck, and head can all be covered in a plastic surgery residency program. Wound healing, emergency treatment, fluid replenishment, and the relationship between fundamental science and surgical procedures can all be covered. Attending conferences, gaining teaching experience, conducting research, participating in journal clubs, and dissecting cadavers can all be part of the program.

Complete a fellowship

A one-year fellowship program in plastic surgery can help you concentrate in a certain specialization. Aesthetic surgery, microvascular reconstructive surgery, body contouring, craniofacial surgery, and hand surgery are among the fields where fellowships are provided. You can be required to do a research project in addition to clinical training in your specialization. The American Board of Plastic Surgery offers optional subspecialty certification in hand, neck, and head surgery to allopathic plastic surgeons (ABPS).

Obtain your certification

A plastic surgeon's board certification indicates that he or she is an expert in a certain field or specialization of medicine. The following are some of the certifications required of a plastic surgeon:

Certification by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)

This certification indicates that you have completed additional training and study above the minimal criteria for getting a license. You must hold a medical license and pass a written and oral test to obtain this certification. To keep this certification, you must complete the ABMS Program, which is an intensive ongoing professional development program.

Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)

The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes 24 specialty boards. To get this certification, you must complete the required coursework and pass thorough oral and written exams that cover all aspects of cosmetic surgery.

Common questions

Some of the most commonly asked questions by aspiring plastic surgeons. They are as follows:

What does a plastic surgeon's workday look like?

Community and university hospitals, trauma wards, private offices, multi-specialty practices, and outpatient clinics are all places where plastic surgeons work. They generally work more than 40 hours each week on surgery and other associated activities. Plastic surgeons, like other surgeons, collaborate with a team of assistants or other surgeons to accomplish a procedure.

Plastic surgeons can sometimes be called in to do emergency surgery on short notice. They often operate in well-lit, clean surroundings, such as an operating room in a hospital. They also educate or train prospective plastic surgeons in medical colleges.

Some cosmetic surgeons choose to work in a private practice setting because it gives them more freedom and autonomy. Getting and keeping patients, on the other hand, can be a time-consuming and difficult procedure. Furthermore, compared to a group practice where expenditures are shared, the costs of maintaining a private practice might be significantly greater.

What skills are required?

In order to be successful in this field, prospective plastic surgeons need have the following characteristics:

Motor functions

Anyone conducting medical operations such as sewing wounds or cutting blood arteries requires manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and meticulous attention to detail. You should be able to maintain your composure and maintain a steady hand even while under duress.

General teamwork

Plastic surgeons must be outstanding team players and be able to acknowledge everyone's contribution to a successful operation since they work with nurses, assistants, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals when performing surgery.

Communication skills

Because surgeons require assistance from other experts to accomplish surgery, they must have excellent communication skills to ensure a seamless operation. They should be able to communicate with their staff in an open and professional manner.

Problem-solving skills

An surgery, like any other medical procedure, does not always go according to plan. Plastic surgeons must be able to handle issues swiftly and efficiently in order to avoid endangering their patients' lives.

Patience and stamina

These abilities aid surgeons in completing difficult procedures. Plastic surgeons must be able to stay attentive for the whole procedure in order to prevent making catastrophic errors.

What's required to complete the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)?

The USMLE is a three-part examination. The first phase, which is generally completed at the conclusion of your second year of medical school, examines your scientific knowledge as it applies to medicine. The second phase is typically completed after the conclusion of medical school. It is divided into two parts, each of which takes around one day to complete.

Through quizzes and patient simulations, the second stage assesses your clinical abilities and knowledge. After the first year of residency, the third stage is generally taken. It's a two-day exam that contains questions and simulations that assess your competence to provide unsupervised care to patients.

how to become a plastic surgeon

What's cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Congenital malformations, developmental anomalies, trauma, infection, tumors, and illness all produce aberrant bodily structures that require reconstructive surgery. It's usually done to enhance function, but it can also be done to mimic or improve a natural appearance. Most health insurance policies include reconstructive surgery, however, coverage for specific operations and levels of coverage vary considerably depending on the quality of the policy.

Cosmetic plastic surgery is used to modify natural bodily components in order to improve the shape and look. Typically, health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic or reconstructive surgery are both great career paths for future surgeons. Cosmetic surgery is sometimes referred to as aesthetic plastic surgery.

Plastic surgeons who have completed both an ACGME-approved Plastic Surgery Residency and an AACS Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship (or an ABPS Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Fellowship that fulfills the ABCS's minimal case requirements) can select ABCS board certification as their primary board accreditation.

What about certifications for osteopathic plastic surgeons?

Board certification for osteopathic plastic surgeons is offered by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery (AOBS).

What is a general surgery residency?

You can either finish a three-year general surgery residency followed by a three-year plastic surgery residency, or a six-year integrated residency including both types of training. Clinical rotations in several areas of surgery, such as abdominal, breast, pediatric, trauma, and cardiothoracic care, are completed as part of your general surgery training.

Plastic surgery residents generally engage in lectures, patient rounds with a certified plastic surgeon, and clinical case studies.

How long do fellowships last in subspecialities?

Fellowships in craniofacial surgery and hand surgery are two of the possible subspecialties. Applicants must graduate from medical school and finish a residency that is certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

how to become a plastic surgeon

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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