What is a plastic surgeon?
This is a surgeon who focuses on restorative or corrective surgeries. They are also known as “reconstructive surgeons.” The name of this medical field is derived from the word “plastic” which means “malleability”. When you look at the results of plastic surgery what the word means holds to the idea that skin and flesh can be modeled to help restore function and form. They are medical doctors who perform operations to alter and repair various parts of the body. The field of plastic surgery is a very lucrative career choice but it can also be a very challenging field of medicine.
Job description of a plastic surgeon
When becoming a plastic surgeon it can include specializing in microsurgery, treating burns by doing skin grafts, laser surgery, tissue transfers, body contouring, and reconstructive surgery. A plastic surgeon will see people who are suffering from birth defects, genetic deformities, improperly developed bone structure, and injuries and need help correcting these problems and hopefully making life better for them. One of the more common procedures that a plastic surgeon does is skin grafts. This is the transplanting of tissue to a damaged area of the body. These skin grafts will either come from a part of the patient’s body that is not damage or from a donor.
Being a plastic surgeon you will be doing a variety of surgeries like collagen injections, chemical peels, Rhinoplasty, tummy tucks, breast reductions and enhancements, and face lifts. Which surgeries you would do would depend on what specialty you have. When doing any type of plastic surgery there is no room for error and it demands complete focus on the patient you are doing plastic surgery. A vital aspect of plastic surgery is reconstructing body parts. Being a plastic surgeon you have to be very skilled in handling tools and using the latest technology that is related to the surgery you are doing.
If you are working as a plastic surgeon in an emergency room you have to also be talented at trauma care. You also have to be able to deal with highly stressful situations. A plastic surgeon also must have good eye-hand coordination, the ability to pay attention to details when doing plastic surgery, and have a steady hand. They also must have good communication skills in order to talk to the patients and other medical personnel.
How to become a plastic surgeon?
The path to becoming a plastic surgeon is a long demanding one and you will have to complete many levels of education and training. As with any medical degree you will start out earning your bachelor’s degree. Although it there is no specific major you need it is advisable to major in pre-medical like chemistry or biology. One thing to note is that there are certain prerequisite classes that include physics, biology, and chemistry. Once you have your bachelor’s degree you will have to take the Medical College Admission Test to get into medical school.
Once you are in medical school you will have 2 years of classroom and laboratory work and the last 2 years you will do clinical rotations in vary areas of medicine like cardiology and neurology. One rotation that is required is surgery. There are also some medical colleges that offer clerkships in plastic surgery. Before you graduate from medical school you will have to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam. Which exam you take depends on if you are a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy.
Once you graduate from medical college you will have 2 choices of residency programs. There are some schools that offer a combined residency of plastic and general surgery program that can take 6 years to complete while other schools will offer the residencies separately with each taking 2-3 years each to complete. If you decide to go the route of doing each separately you will have to do your general surgery residency first. During residency you will incorporate training in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Near the end of your residency you will be allowed greater independence and have the ability to do some minor plastic surgery under the guidance of an experienced plastic surgeon.
After completing all of your schooling, training, and residency you will need to complete a fellowship if you want to work in a sub-specialty like hand surgery, neck surgery, etc. Most of these fellowships last for 12 months. You can also seek optional board certification by passing an exam that is administered by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery or the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To be certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery you have to have done at least 50 operations while they were residents along with passing written and oral exams. They can choose to be tested in dermatological cosmetic surgery, general cosmetic surgery, facial cosmetic surgery, or cosmetic surgery of body extremities. It is also a requirement that to get this certification they have to have hospital operating privileges and certification in advanced cardiac life-support.
The work environment for a plastic surgeon is challenging and demanding but on the flip side it also offers a sense of reward and mental stimulation. Plastic surgery can be used to help erase the signs of aging to being used in a life-saving manner such as skin grafts on a badly burned patient. Most plastic surgeons will work in either private clinics or hospitals but there are some who opt to open their own private practice or join an existing group practice. Wherever they choose to work they need to make sure that where they do the surgery is comfortable, clean, and has plenty of light. Most of the surgeries that a plastic surgeon does can be done in their office but there are surgeries that can only be done in a hospital as an out-patient or in-patient. Plastic surgeons also have to get use to being on their feet for many hours and quite possible leaning over an operating table for some plastic surgeries.
Depending on where they choose to work they can work more than 40 hours a week. If they work in a hospital setting they may have days that they are on-call. If they are doing surgery they could go over the time that was allotted for the surgery resulting in the other scheduled surgeries to be pushed back some so this causes them to work longer hours. The main job of a plastic surgeon is to analyses, diagnose, and perform surgeries that are cosmetic in nature or will help someone feel better about themselves.
The patients that a plastic surgeon sees can be a combination of referrals and walk-in patients. When seeing the patient for the first time they would ask what their symptoms and needs are, and their medical history. They will them exam the area that the patient wants the surgery done on to see if it can be done. Once the plastic surgeon knows what the problem is they will suggest the right medical procedure to correct it and what the risks and benefits are of having this medical procedure done. If the patient decides to have the medical procedure the plastic surgeon will either schedule the operation themselves or have their office manager do it plus make sure that all the necessary personnel for the operation will be available on the day of the surgery. They will meet with the patient before the surgery and discuss any pre-operative things they must do and after the surgery they will do a follow up with the patient to make sure that they are doing the recommended post-operative things.
If they are in a private practice they will need to have managerial skills so they can set the practice up along with hiring the office staff including an office manager. A plastic surgeon will also need to do continuing education courses, attend conferences, and read medical manuals and magazines in order to keep up with the latest technology and procedures.
Pros and cons of being a Plastic Surgeon
Every career has its ups and downs, its pros and cons and being a Plastic Surgeon is not one career that is without these features. This professional’s role except taking beauty to another level is to give a specific aid to those who were affected in a car accident or other accidents. Their mission is and the rewarding it comes with is to help correct even birth defects that are severe, or repair faces of patients who were disfigured by tragically events.
Each time when patient feels that his new look is worth all the money or that he feels that he can leave with it the Plastic Surgeon becomes the hero. To be able to practice Plastic Surgery, you’ll need a higher education and many years in which you are formed, and you gain knowledge and experience. From this point of view getting the right education can be estimated as a huge con.
To become a Plastic Surgeon and be able to practice, you’ll need undergraduate premedical schooling and medical schooling. Such training lasts for four years each, followed by a residency in surgery that can last up to five or even six years depending on the training program and the institution. Figuring this part out will assume having to pay a costly debt since the educational system is very expensive.
The pro though is linked with the job itself, mainly with the salary that you’ll be earning. A Plastic Surgeon salary in the US can reach about $317,020 per year and with this average, you can afford to start paying your college debts. Some of the Plastic Surgeons can reach a salary that can easily encompass $500,090 per year and can get even higher up to $700,010 per year. The wages depend on the state, the facility in which you work and other factors.
As a Plastic Surgeon, you can find many rewarding things starting from the gratitude of your patients, up to becoming the best in this career. Opportunities also target a higher salary, or even the thought that you’ve helped the world to be better, and you’ve improved the way the life goes for many patients.
Plastic Surgeon job growth
There is a very real job growth estimated at 18% for the next ten years or so for the plastic surgeons especially due to the number of increased demanding and the area of specialty that this field provides such as cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery and other as well.
The job outlook has a faster than the average rate for all physicians and surgeons for the next couple of years, this leading to profitable employment opportunities. Another factor affecting the growth of the healthcare industries as well as in the surgery branch is an expansion in the aging population and a quite high demand for new innovative medical technologies.
Plastic surgeon salary
Becoming a plastic surgeon you will be considered a “surgical specialist.” Plastic surgery is a growing field so as it grows so does their salary. One thing that will help to determine the average yearly plastic surgery is whether you have an area of specialization. The geographical location, your professional reputation, how many years experience you have, and where you work also figure into the salary you receive. If you work in a large city the salary will be higher. Because there are many actresses and actors getting face lifts, tummy tucks, breast enhancement or any type of cosmetic surgery working in a city where they are can help to ensure that your salary will be high. It might not be very high in the beginning but as you gain more practice and work experience and make them look young and beautiful they will tell friends and soon you will have a larger practice and can name your own price. On average the yearly plastic surgeon salary just starting out could be as low as $66.977 but again, all the above factors will be taken in consideration.
For an established plastic surgeon that has more than 10 years experience they can earn as much as $359,980 yearly. It is also shown that if you work in a surgical or general medical hospital that you will receive a lower average yearly salary. The difference can be as much as $100,000 a year.
The average yearly salary for a plastic surgeon is higher in cities like:
- $341,000 in New York
- $299,000 in Houston
- $300,000 in Miami
- $326,000 in Los Angles
- $317,000 in Seattle
There is also the benefit package that can include paid vacation days, sick days, personal days, holiday pay, life insurance, health insurance, malpractice insurance, social security, pension, 401K, and more. It would depend on your employer what would be included in the benefit package if you are working for a hospital, clinic, or group practice.
Plastic Surgeon salary in 2015
Many factors will influence the average and the median Plastic Surgeon salary in 2015. The salary of these professionals will range from $286,010 per year and $424,010 per year. The median salary is estimated at about $340,010 but even those working as beginners will gain a luxury salary compared to other specialty fields.
A plastic surgeon salary is also influenced by the practice in which he works. For example, working in a hospital, you’ll get a lower earning then those plastic surgeons who work in private practices. The geographical area has a word to say when it comes to these professionals salaries, for instance, those, who work in the Southeast, have a lower salary than those who found work in Northwest.
The great news is that the job career opportunities are very good. The benefits package, which is added to the total compensation package for a plastic surgeon, can be estimated at about $441,005 per year.
Plastic Surgeon Salary in 2016
The plastic surgeon income in the United States, for the year 2016 brings like usual an increase in the number of demanding this leading to an increase in the salary. The earnings that these specialists receive are mainly influenced by the geographical location, the fact that you have, or you haven’t got a specialty, the reputation that you’ve gained as a plastic surgeon. Moreover other factors that affect and impact the salaries are the years of experience and the working site.
Since it is an industry that grows more and more in the plastic surgery and there are numerous actors and actresses who want a face lifting or breast enhancement or other various plastic surgical procedures, your payment if you are excellent at what you are doing will increase on a permanent base.
At the beginning of your work it might not be that high – on a starting average your income could be as low as $67,050 per year but with more practice and professional experience gathered your name will spread and you’ll gain reputation, this leading, of course to higher earnings.
Having more than 10 years in the profession, with an established job and reputation your salary could easily go up to $360,100 per year. This salary is also influenced based on the type of setting in which you are working. For instance, those plastic surgeons that found work in a surgical hospital can expect to take home even as much lower with $90,000 or less.
Don’t forget to take into consideration when it comes to a plastic surgeon salary the benefits package that mainly includes malpractice insurance, life and health insurance, paid sick days, or paid vacations days, 401K, pension and more other. The benefits package and what it is included in it will depend mainly on your employer.
With these factors that influence the average income for the year 2016, the estimations that are made will lead to some figures that will range from $286,100 per year and will go up to $424,100 per year. The location in which you prefer to practice your work is important since it will vary according to each state. There will be even cities that will pay plastic surgeons higher salaries while others will reflect due to the cost of living and the gathered living expenses a lower salary.
Plastic surgeon salary in Canada, Australia and the UK
Plastic surgeons that work in other countries like Canada, UK, and Australia could have a salary that is close to what a plastic surgeon earns in the United States In the UK the average yearly salary for a plastic surgeon is a little less than those for Canada, the United States, and Australia.
For example, in the United Kingdom the average yearly salary is around GBP93,000 and in the United States that equals to almost $150,000.
The average yearly plastic salary in Canada, UK and Australia compared to the United State is:
- C$36,487 – C$344,024 in Canada with a yearly bonus of approximately C$49,833. In the United States this average yearly salary would be $33,595 – $316,752 with a yearly bonus of approximately $45,883.
- Au$35,508 – AU$304,689 in Australia with a yearly bonus of approximately AU$1,021 – AU$20, 134. In the United States this average yearly salary would be $33,247 – $285,289 with a yearly bonus of approximately $955.99 – $18,852.
- In your 20’s you could earn up to 36,322 ($61,066 U.S.), in your 30’s you can earn up to 47,461 ($79,793 U.S.), and in your 40’s and 50’s you can earn up to 56,178 ($94,464 U.S.)
Conclusion on plastic surgeon salary
Being a plastic surgeon their salary is not the highest one in the medical field but it is still a lucrative one. Most plastic surgeons expect to earn a six-figure income each year and this is possible but it depends on the same factors as mentioned. The schooling, training, and residency may be long and demanding but receiving a six figure income a year makes it all worth it. When looking for a job as a plastic surgeon make sure that you check out the larger cities on the east or west coast of the United States as this is where you will find people who want cosmetic plastic surgery to help them appear young. Going south to Miami, Florida is another area that offers a high salary to plastic surgeons. Although you may start out earning less than $100,000 a year it will not take long for you to earn an average of over $200,000 a year. As this is a very competitive field of medicine you should start to look for a job as soon as you are in the last year of your residency. You should also take the extra 12 months training and specialize in a subspecialty of plastic surgery.
- First Published Date: 10 June, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 12 June, 2016