How to Become a Plastic Surgeon

Early Degree Choices & Ideal Universities


how to become a plastic surgeon

There’s no question that plastic surgery is both a versatile and lucrative career, but it also comes with a certain amount of competition because of that fact. Many will try, but few will succeed and find themselves in thriving practices. This article discusses what the trends are saying, and how important early degree choices along with university-choices are.

Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities o ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act”Maxwell Maltz

The First Step is Being Goal-Orientated

Start from your goal and then connect the dots backwards. Yeah, really. Imagine you’re where you want to be in your career as a plastic surgeon and then just conceptually come to terms with what it will take to stay there.

- If money is the primary motivation vs. the results and life-altering changes you plan on providing to your clients, it’s going to make things harder than they need to be.

- There is more than one type of plastic surgeon. The two major categories are cosmetic and then reconstructive. It means the difference between something that simply enhances features, to something like breast reduction surgery.

- Some of the procedures are going to be required as well, as it pertains to defects or injuries.

- Before setting out on the journey to become a professionally accredited, educated and certified plastic surgeon, define exactly what you intend to specialize in. This saves a fair amount of time and money.

Paying Initial Dues by Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

Because you will have defined your approach, you can then more readily choose the best place to take your pre-med courses. These include things like…

- Organic Chemistry

- Inorganic Chemistry

- Physics

- Human Physiology

- Human Biology

The undergraduate years are incredibly important and pave the way for what really matters in the long run, which is Graduate school.

It’s incredibly important to not only earn a high GPA, as high as possible, but to aquire letters of recommendations. Furthermore, undergraduate school is a foundational place to begin networking.

Thirdly, you need to prepare for and then ace the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test. Medical schools get tons of prospective admission requests, and again, competition can be fierce for popular industries like plastic surgery.

Graduating from Medical School: Doors Begin Opening or Closing

If you strategically made wise early degree choices, got into a well-known undergraduate program and came packing accolades and recommendation, graduating from Medical School is a starting off point.

You will have to go through a couple of years of strictly classroom-based training, and then go into two more years of hands-on rotations within your field of expertise. Wow, take full advantage of those two years because they set the tone for everything that happens once you get the graduate degree.

- Soak in the experience for all it’s worth, because in many respects this experience is going to carry a heavier weight in the professional world than book smarts alone.

- Depending on whether you get an M.D. (Medical Doctor) or a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) you will then need to earn your licensing.

The Licensing Stage: Proving Your Worth

No matter what specialization you choose, each and every officially recognized physician is required to earn and present their patients/clients with a license.

- For M.D. the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required.

- For D.O. the Comprehensive Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX) is required.

They are comprehensive and very in-depth examinations that are composed of three primary parts. They will test your ability to apply what you know or have learned and force you to test them in relation to the actual practice of medicine.

Plastic Surgery Residency

Once you’re licensed you can either do 3 years in a “general surgery residency” which is then followed up by another round of 3 years in plastic surgery residency.

The second option is to just go for a full 6-year integrated residency that covers all the bases at once. This is most common.

Fellowships & Professional Development

Afterwards it’s wise to complete a fellowship and really focus on whatever subspecialty you’ve chosen, if you’ve chosen one. There are tons of fellowships and they really work wonders on developing long term careers.