How to become a plastic surgeon

Plastic surgeons serve high-profile clientele, like movie and TV stars, as well as people recovering from accidents and illnesses. They also help people born with birth defects. Whether performing cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, plastic surgeons make big bucks helping people. If you are willing to put in many years of hard work, you can become a plastic surgeon one day too.

Here's how to become a plastic surgeon:


  1. Obtain your bachelor's degree in a premedical major, such as biology or chemistry.
  2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). You might want to consider taking an MCAT prep course so you get a good score.
  3. Complete a four-year doctor of medicine (MD) degree from an accredited medical school [source: Education-portal]. Choosing a school with a plastic surgery residency program could make your next step easier.
  4. Undergo surgical residency training upon completing medical school. This three-year residency is a general surgery residency.
  5. Undergo a second residency specializing in plastic surgery. This is also a three-year residency. Some programs combine everything into one long residency [source: ABPS].
  6. Become familiar with the role of a plastic surgeon through the rules and guidelines of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and connect with groups like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  7. Choose a specialty upon completing your general surgery training, or during your second or third year of mixed training. Some possibilities include hand surgery, aesthetic surgery and cutaneous malignancy surgery.
  8. Secure certification with the ABPS through examination and conformity with a code of ethics.

After completing your residency, you may decide to do a fellowship. This will help you further master your skills in your chosen area. After that, you will be ready to perform plastic surgery.