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What is a plastic surgeon?

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons

A plastic surgeon or what is sometimes known as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon is one of the most highly trained surgeons of all the surgical specialties. They are not only surgeons who perform beautification surgery and procedures, but carry out very complex reconstruction of injuries. For example, when other surgeons cannot close a massive wound, plastic surgeons will be called in to bring in new tissues to cover the wound. Other times peripheral nerves will be repaired or reconstructed by specialized plastic surgeons called microsurgeons. Arm replantations, total face transplants (recently reported in the media) were developed and successfully performed by plastic surgeons.

The Surgeon's Surgeon

These remarkable surgeons are sometimes known as the "surgeons surgeon" as they are all trained in general surgery, most actually complete the requirements to be a board certifed general surgeon. This five years of rigorous training is completed even before they start their formal plastic surgery education. Plastic Surgery training adds a minimum of two more years which makes Plastic Surgeons the surgeons with the most years of training - thus a surgeon's surgeon.

Reconstructive training makes a difference

This reconstructive aspect and formal training in general surgery are what differentiate the plastic surgeons from the non-plastic surgeons who perform cosmetic procedures. Plastic Surgeons are trained to operate on all tissues. A simple perusal through the plastic surgery literature will show you that it is it is filled with surgical procedures on all parts of the body. The hand, the nerves, the small blood vessels, muscles and skin are all within the plastic surgeons domain.

The selection process

The selection process for a plastic surgeon is more rigorous as it is a very competitive specialty and demands the highest standards in surgical care. Many attempt to obtain the training, but only a few are actually picked to become plastic surgeons. These are select individuals who have the grades, the skills and the mind to serve the profession well. It is not easy and as mentioned very competitive which assures the public of the highest quality surgeon who entrust their care.

Continuing Education and Certification

Plastic Surgeons continue to educate themselves through their career as this is a ever advancing field. They attend conferences, read the journals and other contining education activities. After the plastic surgeon becomes board certified they must become recertified as well. This requires taking a exam which tests if the plastic surgeon keeps up with his knowledge. In Hawaii the plastic surgeons (like all American plastic surgeons) have gone through this rigorous selection and traning process.