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Cosmetic Surgeon Job Description, Career as a Cosmetic Surgeon, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Advanced degree and specialized training.

Salary: Median— $211,000 annually

Employment Outlook:— Very good

Cosmetic surgeons are specialized surgeons who correct or improve the appearance of physical features. Liposuction, rhinoplasty (remodeling of nose), blepharoplasty (removal of slack skin around eyelids), rhytidectomy (face lifts), mammoplasty (modification in the shape of breasts), and rectification of cleft lip are the most common operations performed by cosmetic surgeons. Cosmetic surgeons may often be required to work with burn and accident victims and reconstruct their damaged areas.

All plastic surgeons are not necessarily cosmetic surgeons, because plastic surgeons do not have training pertaining to all cosmetic surgery procedures. Doctors who are specialized as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, general surgeons, and facial plastic surgeons perform cosmetic surgery after attending fellowship programs and studying extensively in the field of cosmetic surgery.

Education and Training Requirements

Cosmetic surgeons have to complete four years of medical school and a three-year residency program before applying for a fellowship in cosmetic surgery. The entire procedure is intellectually demanding and expensive.

Students who wish to become cosmetic surgeons have to take undergraduate courses in the field of science. They must maintain a good grade point average. Medical schools are very selective when it comes to admission of students. Aspirants are expected to take the MCAT before admission. After medical school, doctors will have to complete a residency in surgery or a related field as there is no residency program exclusively in cosmetic surgery. On completion of the residency program, the candidate needs to pursue a 1-year or 2-year fellowship program in cosmetic surgery. The fellowship must, in turn, be followed by a certificate program.

The only board that certifies cosmetic surgeons is the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. In order to be certified, doctors who have completed a two-year fellowship program need to perform 50 documented cosmetic procedures, while those who have attended a one-year fellowship program need to perform at least 100 such procedures. Primary surgeons who have performed more than 1,000 documented cosmetic surgeries in six years are also eligible for certification. The board grants certificates to candidates who pass its rigorous two-day test.

Getting the Job

The current trend in cosmetic surgery is private practice. However, it is advisable to spend the first few years of one’s career under the guidance of an experienced cosmetic surgeon. This not only helps the newly trained surgeons gain expertise, but also makes it easier for them to build up a potential customer base. Often, job openings in cosmetic surgery are advertised in websites on the Internet, and in newspapers. One can also directly contact clinics specializing in cosmetic surgery and inquire about employment opportunities with them.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

While starting out in this profession, cosmetic surgeons are likely to take up salaried jobs with medical clinics or hospitals. Over the years, they can move up to supervisory or managerial positions. Later in their careers, they may set up private practice. If they opt to remain in academics and take up faculty positions, they can continue with research.

Employment opportunities are expected to be extremely favorable for cosmetic surgeons. The job market is likely to grow by 14% in the next decade. This demand is, to large extent, fueled by the increasing consciousness of people regarding their looks and appearance.

Working Conditions

Cosmetic surgeons work in comfortable, clean, and well lit environments. The early years of medical training are grueling. Medical interns have to work for long hours and get used to rotating shifts. Later in their lives, cosmetic surgeons can enjoy more flexible work schedules. Another benefit of this profession is that cosmetic surgeons are not required to be on call because they do not deal with emergency cases.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
737 North Michigan Ave, Suite 2100
Chicago, IL 60611-5641

American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation
444 E. Algonquin Rd.
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
18525 Torrence Avenue
Lansing, Illinois 60438
Tel: 708-474-7200

International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary for cosmetic surgeons in the United States is $211,000 according to the records of 2009. Earnings depend largely on years of experience, skill, professional reputation, and geographic location. In fact, experienced surgeons have reported annual salaries to the tune of $408,065. Unlike other medical practitioners, cosmetic surgeons can get the full payment for their services right away and do not need to wait for the clearance of insurance checks.

Salaried surgeons enjoy employment benefits like paid leaves and vacations, as well as health and life insurance. Self employed cosmetic surgeons need to fund their insurance and retirement.

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