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How Much Do Plastic Surgeons Make

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Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Change Lives

Plastic surgeons are medical doctors specializing in the alteration and reconstruction of the face and body. They tend to have more control over their schedules than other surgeons but, like general and specialty surgeons, most work long hours. Plastic surgeons with young families need reliable child care to accommodate their busy work schedules.

Job Description

Plastic surgery is the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects involving the skin, body, musculoskeletal system, cranial and maxillofacial structures and extremities. Plastic surgeons perform skin grafts and tumor surgery, repair complex wounds and use implantable materials. They may operate on newborns and infants to correct birth defects. They may provide surgical treatment to individuals disfigured by illness or injury.

Cosmetic surgery is a subspecialty of plastic surgery. It is elective surgery for patients who want to enhance their faces or bodies. Cosmetic surgery can involve a face lift, hair transplant, rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast augmentation or other procedures that can help individuals gain confidence about their physical appearance.

Some plastic surgeons are engaged in research and are responsible for innovations that save lives or improve the quality of life for patients suffering from various conditions. Plastic surgeons are needed in medical schools to help train the next generation of specialized surgeons.

Education Requirements

Becoming a doctor starts with earning a bachelor's degree. Although a specific major is not required for admission to medical school, most applicants possess a degree in math or one of the sciences. Admission to medical school is very competitive, so you'll need a grade-point average of 3.65 or higher, good scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and letters of recommendation from people who can attest to your abilities and work ethic.

Medical school takes four years to complete. Students attend lectures and take advanced laboratory sciences. They complete supervised clinical rotations in a variety of specialties to gain experience and skill and to help them decide on a career path.

After graduation, new doctors must pass the three-part United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Residency for plastic surgery requires a minimum of four years; some plastic surgeons opt to become further specialized by undertaking one or more fellowships. Specializations can include hand surgery, burn injuries, microvascular surgery and others.

Certification can be obtained through the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Certification lasts for ten years and is renewed through a process that requires verification of medical licensure and practice, peer evaluations, a written exam and at least 150 hours of continuing medical education.

About the Industry

Plastic surgeons work in hospitals and medical centers as well as outpatient surgical clinics. Typically, they consult with patients, physicians and others in an office setting, sometimes as part of an individual or group private practice. They may work as part of a team that includes other medical specialists and healthcare professionals. Because of the various types of plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, plastic surgeons may enjoy more flexibility in their careers than physicians practicing other specialties.

Years of Experience

Geographic location and surgical specialization impact salaries for plastic surgeons. Depending on years of experience, here are average salary ranges:

  • Less than 1 year experience: $328,391-$363,979
  • 1-2 years experience:

    $332,953-$368,542 3-4 years experience: $354,854-$395,920 7-9 years experience: $373,105-$424,103 15-19 years experience: $373,105-$424,103 20+ years experience: $373,105-$424,103

Job Growth Trend

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts above-average job growth for physicians and surgeons in all specialties. The increase in population, along with advances in plastic surgery techniques, will likely contribute to continuing demand.