Plastic SurgeonJob Description:
Plastic surgeons perform surgery that reconstructs or alters skin and tissues, for either medical or cosmetic reasons.Job Category:
What you will do:
Plastic surgeons perform two different kinds of operation:
- reconstructive surgery, and
- aesthetic (or cosmetic) surgery.
This usually involves a mixture of elective (i.e. planned in advance) surgery and emergency work.
The majority of work for the most government hospital plastic surgeons is reconstructive surgery, restoring appearance and function to body parts after illness or physical injury. Such procedures include the following:
- Treatment for cleft lips and cleft palates
- Breast reconstruction, such as after cancer
- Trauma surgery, such as after severe burns or road traffic accidents
Aesthetic surgery refers to any procedure performed purely to alter a person’s appearance at their request:
- Facelifts – tightening the skin of the face to lessen the appearance of unwanted wrinkles
- Breast augmentation or reduction
- Liposuction – removing unwanted fat from under the skin
Plastic surgery is a highly innovative branch of medicine: research is a major part of the work and new techniques are being developed all the time.
You will likely need the following:
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- knowledge of biology
- knowledge of English language
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
As well as:
- thinking and reasoning skills (adaptable)
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
- the ability to accept criticism
- the ability to make difficult decisions
- calmness and focus under pressure
- excellent eyesight
- good hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
- excellent communication skills
- leadership and management skills
- artistic abilities are are also very useful.
As with other types of medical specialty, you need to have completed the following:
- A five-year medical degree
- The two-year Foundation Programme of general training
Then you will need surgery-specific training:
- At least two or three years of surgical training
- Up to six years of specialty training
You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine without UK A levels or equivalent qualifications in science. The course includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.
If you already have a first-class or upper second-class science degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.
When you apply for a course in medicine in the UK, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you’ll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.
There’s a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.
Working Hours and Environment:
Like many medical professionals, plastic surgeons sometimes work long and irregular hours and are often expected to be on call outside those hours, such as at the weekends or in the evenings.
You’ll spend time in a variety of settings such as consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency. Interaction with patients and colleagues will be very frequent.
Career Path & Progression:
Most plastic surgeons develop what’s known as a ‘sub-specialty’ – i.e. a specialty within plastic surgery – such as paediatric plastic surgery (working with children), congenital conditions (conditions that are present since birth, like facial deformities), hand surgery, and breast surgery. This means they will have increased expertise in that area and may be called upon by colleagues to advise on treatment or other procedures
With experience, there is potential for managerial opportunities – leading a team, a department, or even an entire hospital trust.
It is common too for plastic surgeons to be involved in teaching and supervision of junior doctors.