If you love helping others and are fascinated with the aesthetics of the human body, a career as a plastic surgeon might be an option for you to consider. Plastic surgeons are experts in appearances, and they help patients to achieve the outward beauty they desire. While exact responsibilities vary by specialty, the basic duties of all plastic surgeons are the same.
Before you scrub in and head for the operating room, you will hold one-on-one consultations with each patient to assess her concerns regarding her appearance and the services she desires. You will take notes and photographs to use as references to create a plan of action -- through surgical or non-surgical procedures. Your clients may visit you for reconstructive surgery to fix injuries sustained from an accident or natural deformities, or for cosmetic reasons, such as wanting to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or the size of their noses.
Performing Reconstructive Surgery
For clients who want to restore their appearances to the way they looked prior to an accident or fix a natural deformity, such as a cleft lip, you will perform reconstructive surgical procedures. Some plastic surgeons choose to specialize exclusively in reconstructive surgery, so that is an option for you. Reconstructive surgery may involve inserting implants or plates in order to "rebuild" bone structures, or grafting skin from one part of the body to minimize scarring.
Performing Cosmetic Surgery
Sometimes, clients want plastic surgeons to alter or enhance their appearance for cosmetic reasons. From breast augmentation to rhinoplasty, a wide variety of cosmetic surgical procedures exist, and you will perform many of them on a regular basis. You have the option to specialize entirely in cosmetic surgery, or you may offer both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in your practice.
Performing Non-Surgical Procedures
Not everyone who visits your office will need to go under the knife. Many clients will want simple, non-surgical procedures that take only a few minutes to complete and require little healing time. This includes Botox and other cosmetic fillers. Botox is a substance that is injected directly into the muscles to temporarily paralyze them, and is a popular procedure for minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Providing Patient Education
As a plastic surgeon, a huge part of your job will be educating patients about safety concerns or risks associated with the procedures you want. They will ask you questions about the procedures they plan on getting, and it is your responsibility to answer them. Whether your patients require a few weeks off work after surgery or they need to avoid lying down for a few hours after injections, it is your job to properly educate them about proper aftercare following their procedures.
Your job as a plastic surgeon isn't done once a patient leaves the recovery wing; you will schedule followup appointments to check on the healing of your work. Patients will come back to see you and you will analyze how well and quickly they are healing. You will check for any warning signs of infection or other complications, or adjust their recovery plan as necessary.
2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons
Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.