What is a Plastic Surgeon?

A plastic surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in performing surgical procedures to enhance or alter a person's appearance. These procedures may include reconstructive surgery to repair physical defects caused by birth defects, trauma, burns, or disease. They may also perform cosmetic surgery, which involves altering the appearance of a person's face or body to improve their aesthetic appeal.

Plastic surgeons have extensive knowledge of the human anatomy and use a variety of surgical techniques to achieve their patients' goals. They work closely with their patients to understand their desired outcomes and create personalized treatment plans. Additionally, plastic surgeons are often sought out for their expertise in using the latest surgical technology and techniques to provide safe, effective, and natural-looking results.

What does a Plastic Surgeon do?

A plastic surgeon operating on a patient.

Duties and Responsibilities
A plastic surgeon is responsible for providing surgical and non-surgical procedures to improve the appearance and function of various parts of the body, closely monitoring patients' recovery, providing post-operative care, and adhering to ethical standards while collaborating with other medical professionals to ensure patients receive the highest level of care possible. The duties and responsibilities of a plastic surgeon may vary depending on their specialization, but generally include:

  • Consultation: A plastic surgeon meets with patients to discuss their concerns, evaluate their condition, and develop a treatment plan. They also inform patients about the risks and benefits of the surgery, as well as any alternative treatments that may be available.
  • Preoperative planning: Before performing any surgery, a plastic surgeon must develop a detailed plan that includes the surgical technique, anesthesia, and postoperative care.
  • Surgical procedures: Plastic surgeons perform a variety of surgical procedures, including repairing physical deformities or defects, breast augmentation, liposuction, facelifts, rhinoplasty, and tummy tucks. They use their knowledge of anatomy, surgical techniques, and medical equipment to perform these procedures safely and effectively.
  • Postoperative care: After a surgery, a plastic surgeon closely monitors the patient's recovery to ensure they are healing properly. They also prescribe medication to manage pain, prevent infection, and minimize scarring.
  • Follow-up appointments: A plastic surgeon schedules follow-up appointments with patients to monitor their progress, remove any sutures, and provide additional instructions for postoperative care.
  • Patient education: A plastic surgeon educates patients on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following postoperative instructions, and avoiding activities that could jeopardize the success of the surgery.
  • Research: Some plastic surgeons conduct research to improve surgical techniques, develop new treatments, and advance the field of plastic surgery.
  • Collaborate with other medical professionals: Plastic surgeons work closely with other medical professionals, including anesthesiologists, nurses, and surgical technicians to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the surgical procedures.
  • Adhere to ethical standards: Plastic surgeons must adhere to strict ethical standards and ensure patient confidentiality. They also avoid performing unnecessary procedures and maintain the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

Types of Plastic Surgeons
Plastic surgery is a diverse field that encompasses a wide range of procedures, from cosmetic surgery to reconstructive surgery. Within this field, there are several specialties that focus on specific areas of the body or types of procedures.

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: Cosmetic surgeons specialize in performing procedures that enhance a patient's physical appearance. They may perform procedures such as breast augmentation, facelifts, rhinoplasty, and liposuction.
  • Reconstructive Surgeon: Reconstructive surgeons specialize in repairing physical deformities or defects caused by injury, disease, or birth defects. They may perform procedures such as breast reconstruction after mastectomy, skin grafts, and cleft lip and palate repair.
  • Hand Surgeon: Hand surgeons specialize in treating injuries and conditions that affect the hands, wrists, and forearms. They may perform procedures such as carpal tunnel release, tendon repair, and hand reconstruction.
  • Craniofacial Surgeon: Craniofacial surgeons specialize in treating deformities and abnormalities of the skull, face, and neck. They may perform procedures such as craniosynostosis correction, cleft lip and palate repair, and facial reconstruction after trauma.
  • Burn Surgeon: Burn surgeons specialize in treating patients with burn injuries. They may perform procedures such as skin grafts, scar revision, and tissue expansion.
  • Microvascular Surgeon: Microvascular surgeons specialize in repairing blood vessels and nerves that have been damaged or severed. They may perform procedures such as replantation of amputated limbs and reconstruction of complex defects.

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What is the workplace of a Plastic Surgeon like?

The workplace of a plastic surgeon can vary depending on the type of practice they have and their specific job responsibilities.

Plastic surgeons may work in private practice, hospitals, or academic medical centers. In a private practice, plastic surgeons typically have their own clinic where they see patients for consultations and perform surgeries. They may also have administrative duties such as managing staff, billing, and marketing.

In a hospital or academic medical center, plastic surgeons may have a wider range of responsibilities, including providing emergency and trauma care, teaching and training medical students and residents, and conducting research. They may work in a specialized plastic surgery department or as part of a larger surgical team.

Regardless of the work setting, plastic surgeons spend a significant amount of time consulting with patients, reviewing medical histories, and performing surgical procedures. They may work long hours and be on call for emergencies or urgent cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Comprehensive List of Doctor Specializations and Degrees

Here is a comprehensive list of specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthopaedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.

Corresponding Degrees

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See Also
Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopaedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist

Pros and cons of being a Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery can be a rewarding and lucrative career, but it also comes with significant challenges and risks. Prospective plastic surgeons should carefully consider the following factors before pursuing this career path:


  • High Earning Potential: Plastic surgery is a highly specialized field of medicine, and plastic surgeons often earn higher salaries than other medical specialties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for plastic surgeons in the United States is over $400,000.
  • Career Flexibility: Plastic surgeons can work in a variety of settings, including private practice, academic medical centers, and hospitals. This allows for greater flexibility in choosing a work environment that fits their lifestyle and career goals.
  • Opportunity for Creativity: Plastic surgeons often have the opportunity to use their creativity and artistic skills to enhance a patient's appearance. They can create unique treatment plans and develop new surgical techniques to achieve the best possible outcome for their patients.
  • Positive Impact on Patients' Lives: Plastic surgery can have a significant impact on a patient's self-esteem and quality of life. By improving a patient's appearance, plastic surgeons can help them feel more confident and improve their overall well-being.


  • Long Hours: Plastic surgeons often work long hours, including nights and weekends. They may also be on call for emergencies, which can be stressful and disruptive to their personal lives.
  • High Stress: Plastic surgery can be a high-stress job, as surgeons are responsible for performing complex surgical procedures and ensuring the safety of their patients. The pressure to achieve optimal results can be intense, and mistakes can have serious consequences.
  • Emotional Toll: Plastic surgery can also take an emotional toll on surgeons, as they often work with patients who are unhappy with their appearance or have experienced trauma. This can be emotionally draining and require significant empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Liability Risks: Plastic surgery carries a high risk of medical malpractice lawsuits, which can be financially and emotionally devastating. Surgeons must take great care to ensure the safety of their patients and minimize the risk of complications.

How long does it take to become a Plastic Surgeon?

Becoming a plastic surgeon requires a significant amount of education and training, which can take several years. The path to becoming a plastic surgeon typically includes the following steps:

  • Undergraduate Education: Completion of a four-year bachelor's degree program is the first step towards becoming a plastic surgeon. Students typically major in a science-related field such as biology or chemistry, but other majors are also accepted.
  • Medical School: After completing undergraduate education, students must attend medical school, which typically takes four years to complete.
  • Residency Training: Following medical school, aspiring plastic surgeons must complete a residency program in plastic surgery, which typically takes six to seven years. During this time, residents receive hands-on training in plastic surgery techniques and patient care.
  • Fellowship Training: After completing a plastic surgery residency, some surgeons choose to pursue additional fellowship training in a specific area of plastic surgery, such as hand surgery or craniofacial surgery. Fellowship training typically takes one to two years.
  • Board Certification: In order to become board certified in plastic surgery, surgeons must pass written and oral exams administered by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Board certification is not required to practice plastic surgery, but it is highly recommended and often required by hospitals and other healthcare organizations.

Overall, it can take anywhere from 11 to 14 years of education and training to become a plastic surgeon.

Plastic Surgeons are also known as:
Cosmetic Surgeon Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon