Cosmetic Surgeon School and Education Programs
Learn about the educational and licensure requirements for a career as a cosmetic surgeon. Get tips on selecting a school as well as information about typical work responsibilities.
What You Need to Know
Cosmetic surgeons help patients fix any deformities or make changes to their bodies. A bachelor's degree is required before pursuing medical school and a fellowship.
|Education||Bachelor's degree, complete medical school and a residency program; cosmetic surgery fellowships are available|
|Training||6-year residency program; on-site surgical facilities; social organizations for networking|
|Responsibilities||Improving quality of life for people with birth defects; erasing scar tissue or burns; reducing health problems of excess weight; skin resurfacing; addressing mental health and confidence|
What Cosmetic Surgeon Education Programs Are Available?
In order to become a surgeon you'll have to earn a bachelor's degree, complete medical school and then begin a residency program in plastic and reconstructive surgery. These programs can take you up to six years beyond the bachelor's to complete, typically splitting time between clinical and academic experiences. Clinical experience in the early years may focus on general surgical techniques including transplant, trauma and cardiac surgery. The final years of study may allow you to focus more intensely in plastic and reconstructive surgery to help you prepare for cosmetic work.
After completing a 6-year residency, you may move on to a 1-year cosmetic surgery fellowship, which allows for further specialization in less medically- and more aesthetically-minded practices. Some fellowships may take up to two years to complete. Fellowships may allow you to transition directly into independent practice of cosmetic surgery.
What Can I Focus on in a Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship Program?
Fellowships are available in such areas as burn surgery, micrographic surgery, craniofacial surgery and breast reconstruction. You can study techniques for:
- Scar removal
- Breast reduction and implants
- Skin reconstruction
How Can I Choose a School?
As someone with an interest in cosmetic surgery, you may prefer 6-year residency programs that allow for some concentration on aesthetic plastic surgery, since that might allow you to incorporate plastic surgery techniques into the earlier years of the program. If you have interests in areas outside of cosmetic surgery, such as cranial or hand reconstruction, you should be sure that a prospective program includes studies in that area.
You may find schools with up-to-date, on-site surgical facilities beneficial for the accessible hands-on work experience they provide. Programs with social organizations for aspiring surgeons could help you network with professionals, faculty members and fellow students, which could be advantageous when seeking employment. Some fellowship programs can be found through hospitals or medical centers.
Schools offering residencies and fellowships in cosmetic surgery include:
- Johns Hopkins University
- University of Tennessee
- University of Utah
- University of Michigan
- Yale University
- University of Chicago
- University of Kansas
- University of California - Davis
How Do Cosmetic Surgeons Help People?
By helping to reconstruct someone's physical appearance you may improve the quality of life for individuals with deformities caused at birth, like cleft palates and hair lips. You can also help to erase scar tissue or severe burns in victims of accidents.
Health problems caused by excess weight and back problems caused by large breasts can be resolved through cosmetic surgery. Those who have lost excessive amounts of weight may need skin resurfacing. You might address issues of a patient's mental health and confidence through physical alterations such as rhinoplasty and facelifts.