A plastic surgeon is a doctor who has specialized in the field of plastic surgery. Plastic surgery is a medical specialty which is concerned with re-constructive procedures and cosmetic surgery. Although the term is more associated with cosmetic enhancement, a plastic surgeon is required for re-constructive or restoration surgery, microsurgery, etc. He belongs to the field of medicine and is primarily a surgical specialist. The word "plastic" of the plastic surgeon title has been derived from the Greek word plastikos which means to mold or to shape; and true to its meaning, this is what a plastic surgeon does. As they perform a variety of surgical procedures such as mastectomy, contracture surgery for burn victims, rhinoplasty, abdominoplasty, augmentation mammaplasty, chemical peel, etc., they have to constantly refine and upgrade their skills. A plastic surgeon should also be aware of the latest surgery techniques and any advancements made in their field of specialization. Since plastic surgery is a growing field, the salary has been expected to rise very high (higher than now) in the near future. Here we will discuss the salary range of a plastic surgeon as well as the educational qualification required to become one.
Salary of a Plastic Surgeon
As cosmetology along with better re-constructive surgery for burn or accident victims is on the rise, the demand for good and experienced plastic surgeons will only increase in the near future. The salary of a plastic surgeon depends upon his area of specialization, number of years of experience, geographical location and of course his professional reputation and caliber. The salary ranges from USD 66,977 to USD 508,306 which includes profit sharing, bonus and commission. The average salary is largely dependent on his/her experience. Surgeons having one to four years of experience can earn anywhere between USD 66,977 to USD 256,308. Established surgeons who have more than ten years of experience can earn upwards of USD 359,980 annually. As mentioned earlier, the salary is also dependent on the geographical region. It has been seen that the earnings of a plastic surgeon in cities like New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles is higher than any other city in United States. Now let us take a look at the educational qualification required to become one.
How to Become a Plastic Surgeon
A good academic record, especially in mathematics and science in high school is the first path towards getting the right education. Armed with good grades one can enroll in a recognized college to earn a Bachelor's degree with majors in science. Bachelor's degree is for four years. Maintaining a good grade point average (GPA) throughout the period of four years is crucial. The last two years should also be spent planning and preparing for the Medical Common Admission Test (MCAT) to ensure entry into an accredited medical school. Medical school is for four years where one will study medical ethics, immunology, pharmacology, anatomy, etc. for the first two years, and then follow it up with a preview into various fields of medical science such gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, etc. One will obtain a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) on the successful completion of four years at the medical school.
After obtaining a MD, an individual will need to complete five or six years of residence training to specialize in plastic surgery. The years are split into general surgery followed up with plastic surgery training. Besides classroom activity and on field training, soft skills like interpersonal communication, patient care, medical ethics are also taught. At the end of this term, one can be addressed as a plastic surgeon. However, as this field is all about specialization, most surgeons choose to pursue a specialized fellowship, in fields such as hand surgery, breast reconstruction, craniofacial surgery, aesthetic surgery, re-constructive surgery, etc. Some of them prefer to get into research and development, as well as teaching. Obtaining certifications as per the country and local rules is very important for a plastic surgeon to practice. In America, one needs to apply for a certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. A written and oral examination is conducted by the board before awarding one a certification.
A plastic surgeon does more than just 'fix up'. Besides being good at what they do, they also need to be very sure about their concepts, tools and techniques. Before a surgery, they need to discuss with their patients/clients the procedures involved in the surgery as well as the risks. As regards to salary, the number of years of experience, the area of expertise as well as geographical location plays a very important part in the pay package of a plastic surgeon.