How to Become a Plastic Surgeon
Plastic Surgeon Careers & Degrees

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Plastic surgery might be the most lucrative specialty in the surgical field because of its high wages.

Plastic Surgeons can choose to specialize in reconstructive or cosmetic surgery but can also choose to apply both procedures in their practice.

Plastic Surgeons can work with patients who have chosen elective surgery to improve cosmetic flaws.

They can also perform surgeries for people who have gone through other medical procedures and need some cosmetic or reconstructive surgery in order to eliminate scars or other types of disfigurements.

They can also perform minor cosmetic surgeries or invasive procedures for patients with deformities.

Students who have already decided that they want to become a Plastic Surgeon may already know about the high wages associated with this profession.

It is also important for candidates to know that entering this field is highly competitive and requires a lot of schooling in order to begin a career.

In addition, surgeons in general are expected to fulfill long and irregular hours on the job.

However, Plastic Surgeons are handsomely awarded with some of the highest wages among all professional fields.

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Education Requirements to Become a Plastic Surgeon

In order for students to become a Plastic Surgeon, they must follow a specific route that includes competitive entry into a medical school.

First, however, candidates should enter a four year college or university and attain a Bachelor’s degree.

Students should choose an undergraduate program that will help them get into a medical school such as pre-medical or a Biology track.

Because of its competitive nature, candidates need to have a high GPA in order to be accepted into a medical school program.

Some medical schools look to see whether certain requirements have been met, such as completing a specific type of class for example, an anatomy course.

Medical schools also look at a candidate’s Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores in order to measure their knowledge of medical and scientific concepts, critical thinking and problem solving capabilities.

It is a multi choice test and you can learn more information about this entry exam by visiting their website.

The MCAT Exam

In addition, the MCAT’s website is a great source for students who are just getting started or are having a hard time researching medical schools.

Plastic Surgeon Job Description

Plastic Surgeons are licensed doctors who specialize in restoring, mending or reconstructing the human body for patients with a variety of needs and requests.

Plastic Surgeons can perform reconstructive or cosmetic surgery as well as a combination of both types of procedures.

Some types of cosmetic surgery are considered to be elective thus Plastic Surgeons often deal with patients who are opting into this type of treatment.

Some common cosmetic procedures a Plastic Surgeon can perform include:

  • Breast Augmentations
  • Breast Lifts
  • Liposuction
  • Post Bariatric
  • Body Contouring
  • Nose Reshaping
  • Eyelid Surgery
  • Lower Body Lift
  • Facelifts

All the previously listed procedures are considered elective surgeries.

Reconstructive surgery is a procedure that is geared to repair the function and shape of a body part that has been affected by something such as an accident.

The goal of reconstructive surgery is to reverse the negative effects created by a wide range of possible causes.

Some typical types of reconstructive surgeries include the following:

  • Cleft Lip
  • Reconstruction after a required surgery
  • Craniofacial Trauma

It is important to know the differences between Reconstructive and Cosmetic surgery.

The main difference being that Cosmetic Surgery is elective while Reconstructive Surgery aims to improve a patient’s quality of life.

Plastic Surgeon Salary and Career Path

As previously mentioned, Plastic Surgeons make some of the highest wages in the medical industry.

The salary range for these professionals according to bls.gov is approximately $186,000 to $340,000 or higher per year.

These high numbers are one of the reasons why the plastic surgery specialty is one of the most sought after positions resulting in high competition for any open positions.

This career is also expected to expand in the future.

Some experts attribute this growth the expected rise in accident and burn victims but some credit can be given to patients opting for elective cosmetic surgery in order to fix some minor flaws.

Whatever this growth can be attributed to, potential Plastic Surgeons can expect to advance in their career once they secure a position as a Plastic Surgeon, or decide to open a private practice.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$252,040
$83K
$207K
$252K
$K
$K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$258,110
Alaska$#
Arizona$280,860
Arkansas$248,380
California$248,100
Colorado$250,480
Connecticut$225,150
Delaware$275,720
District of Columbia$242,640
Florida$189,260
Georgia$247,390
Hawaii$250,180
Idaho$250,670
Illinois$261,880
Indiana$216,040
Iowa$249,920
Kansas$269,460
Kentucky$270,580
Louisiana$252,510
Maine$281,470
Maryland$278,720
Massachusetts$242,310
Michigan$228,660
Minnesota$#
Mississippi$276,170
Missouri$#
Montana$219,320
Nebraska$#
Nevada$258,890
New Hampshire$#
New Jersey$279,660
New Mexico$248,740
New York$230,890
North Carolina$274,240
North Dakota$#
Ohio$280,030
Oklahoma$286,320
Oregon$#
Pennsylvania$258,650
Rhode Island$278,020
South Carolina$#
South Dakota$285,320
Tennessee$270,180
Texas$237,240
Utah$270,260
Vermont- NA -
Virginia$261,220
Washington$232,700
West Virginia$250,940
Wisconsin$#
Wyoming$269,830
Puerto Rico$70,570

The top earning state in the field is Oklahoma, where the average salary is $286,320.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Oklahoma - $286,320
South Dakota - $285,320
Maine - $281,470
Arizona - $280,860
Ohio - $280,030
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists, OCC Code 29-1248, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a plastic surgeon?

Plastic surgeons are physicians specialized in the restoration, reconstruction, or alteration of the human body.

They perform surgeries to reduce scarring or disfigurement resulted from accidents or birth defects but they are also involved in treating diseases such as melanoma.

Many plastic surgeons also perform cosmetic interventions, such as breast augmentation, eyelid surgery or facelifts.

As a plastic surgeon, you will need a variety of skills, including compassion, dexterity, community skills, and an eye for details.

If you want to become a plastic surgeon you should be ready to work long hours in order to accommodate your patients’ needs.

QuestionHow much does a plastic surgeon make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for surgeons, in general, was $255,110 a year, as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors, including the surgeon’s level of experience, the region, and the employer.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a plastic surgeon?

Plastic surgeons, like all surgeons and physicians, need many years of training beyond high school.

If you want to become a plastic surgeon you should first earn your bachelor’s degree.

You must also take the MCATs before enrolling at a medical school.

Competition for med schools is fierce and obtaining a high score at MCATs may help you stand out from the crowd.

Medical school can cost you anywhere between $35,000 and more than $60,000 a year, depending on the school you choose.

After obtaining your Doctor of Medicine degree you will have to complete a residency in plastic surgery and to get your state license.

QuestionWhat is the demand for plastic surgeons?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of surgeons, in general, is expected to grow by 1 percent, slower than the average for all occupations.

However, job opportunities vary depending on the specialty and the region.

If you also specialize in cosmetic surgeries you should have better job prospects as the demand for these types of procedures continues to grow in the U.S.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a plastic surgeon?

If you want to become a plastic surgeon you will need at least 14 years of training beyond high school.

After finishing college, the first step is to get your undergraduate degree which usually takes around 4 years.

Earning your Doctor of Medicine degree is the next step and it requires 4 years of medical school.

After graduating from medical school you will have to complete two years of residency in general surgery and four years of residency in plastic surgery and to get your state license.

If you want to specialize further in a particular field of plastic surgery you will need to complete a fellowship which is 1-2 years long.

Seeking certification from a professional organization, such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons will help you prove your skills to patients and potential employers.

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