Plastic surgeons are highly trained specialists capable of performing complex surgeries to restore form or function throughout the body - operations may be either reconstructive or cosmetic in nature.

About Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgeons are highly trained physicians who are capable of performing operations to correct or restore the body’s functionality or appearance. Plastic surgeons are typically categorized by the two main subspecialties of the field: reconstructive or cosmetic (also known as elective plastic surgery). Nonetheless, all plastic surgeons have received extensive training in a wide range of surgical areas during residency and/or fellowship training.

Reconstructive plastic surgeons perform a variety of procedures and techniques to repair complications that arise as a result of congenital defects, trauma or disease. Reconstructive surgeons may: repair scar tissue, repair cleft palates or lips, reattach appendages, reduce breast size, reconstruct overtly large or deformed ears (typically in children), reconstruct breasts (post mastectomy), reconstruct elbows or knees (usually resulting from sports-related injuries), remove tumors and/or skin cancers, reconstruct facial features following trauma or repair crushed bones, among many other surgical procedures. Some reconstructive surgeons specialize in one area of surgery or one type of injury, but this is not always the case.

Cosmetic surgeons also provide a wide range of surgeries, which may include: Botulinum Toxin treatments (commonly referred to as Botox, which is a brand name), body lifts, eyebrow lifts, chemical peels, dermabrasions, various types of dermal fillers, facial implants, laser skin resurfacing, breast augmentation, facelifts, skin rejuvenation and resurfacing, permanent makeup procedures and spider vein treatments, among many others.

Plastic Surgery Education & Training

Plastic surgeons must undergo a demanding educational and training path that begins with a bachelor’s degree before earning an MD or DO degree. After earning a four year medical degree, the physician must decide which area of the specialty they would like to practice, as the post-doctorate training of a plastic surgeon differs from that of a cosmetic surgeon. Regardless, all plastic surgeons are trained in the areas of microsurgery, pediatric and craniofacial surgery, hand surgery and cosmetic surgery.

Physicians who wish to become a plastic surgeon must complete a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Some residency programs combine general and plastic surgery into one residency, typically lasting five to six years. On the other hand, some plastic surgeons must complete a general surgery residency lasting at least three to five years before entering into a two to three year residency in plastic surgery. After completing residency training, plastic surgeons who wish to subspecialize may pursue fellowship training in a specific surgical area. Many plastic surgeons seek board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) Surgeons who are board certified by the ABPS must apply for re-certification after ten years, as well completing maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements in which they must demonstrate a continuing devotion to education and excellence in the field.

Cosmetic surgeons must complete a residency and/or fellowship after graduating from medical school in a surgical specialty; following completion of post-doctorate training, most will seek board certification in their area of training, but may also be certified by the ABPS (if applicable). This will allow the surgeon to pursue additional post-residency training in a cosmetic surgery fellowship program; many cosmetic surgeons also receive training through attending lectures, workshops and seminars.