What Is Required to Become a Plastic Surgeon?

In life, we trust our fates to many professionals. Lawyers, doctors, preachers, and teachers all guide and shape us to one extent or another. Our trust is so deep, we sometimes forget to ask the basic question like, “How did this person get this job?” Even when professionals display their degrees along the wall, we usually don’t scrutinize them. We simply see them hanging there and think, “That looks legitimate.”

It’s always important to inform yourself, especially when it comes to those work on your body. Plastic and cosmetic surgeries literally alter your form, and you should know what it takes for surgeons to engage in these practices.

In this article, we will inform you of the qualifications to become a plastic or cosmetic surgeon.

Cosmetic Surgery vs. Plastic Surgery

When most people hear the term “plastic surgery,” they often think of “cosmetic surgery.” Plastic surgeons may certainly perform cosmetic surgery, but the two practices are, at their core, very different.

Cosmetic surgery is primarily concerned with changing someone’s appearance. When you think of a facelift, breast augmentation, liposuctions, and so on, you are thinking of cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons must earn a standard, four-year medical degree. From there, they must go to several years of general training, followed by two years of surgical training in a hospital.

Plastic surgery, at its core, is about reconstruction. If, for instance, someone is disfigured in a fire, a plastic surgeon helps rebuild their appearance. Plastic surgery is less about beautification than it is about restoring someone’s humanity.

The requirements for a plastic surgeon are quite close to those of a cosmetic surgeon. After earning a bachelor’s degree, future plastic surgeons enter their four-year MD program. Residency and surgical training take about six more years, and then they are cleared to practice on their own.

None of this is to suggest that cosmetic surgery is somehow inferior to plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgeons are still medical doctors. They’ve gone through the same grueling process as any other doctor, and their work is meticulous. They are still, after all, dealing with bodies, and their practice requires a skilled, knowledgeable hand and deft touch.

Board Certification

In many professional fields, there is a level above the standard requirements. This is known as board certification. Doctors, lawyers, and even teachers can be board certified. Essentially, certification means that a nationally recognized organization endorses you. You must pass their rigorous standards, proving that you are at the top of your field. Once board certified, you can legally declare yourself an “expert” in your field.

For doctors, this board is the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). Physicians who earn certification from this board must pass rigid requirements. First, they must be graduates of an accredited medical school. Next, they must undergo at least five years of residency in both plastic surgery and general surgery, ensuring that their skills are well-rounded. Finally, they must pass rigorous exams, both written and oral.

At West Coast Plastic Surgery Center, our surgeon is board-certified, so you know that you’ll receive the best results under her care. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (805) 978-8545 or contact us online.

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