Plastic Surgery involves managing patients who need reconstructive plastic surgery following trauma or illness. A plastic surgeon will also perform aesthetic surgery.
The Royal Society of Medicine offers a range of events for different surgical specialties, including Plastic Surgery – see a full list on our Events page>>
Entry Route into Plastic Surgery
Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme before they are eligible to apply for the two years of Core Surgical Training (CT1-2). This core training allows trainees to work in a variety of surgical specialties, but requires them to complete the MRCS examinations.
After completing Core Surgical Training, applicants must then apply for ST3 posts to progress. Trainees must have at least six months’ experience in plastic surgery before they can apply.
Job Progression as a Plastic Surgeon
Higher speciality training in Plastic Surgery takes at least six years to complete (ST3-8), and can take longer if additional training in cosmetic surgery is undertaken. Before trainees can obtain their CCT, they must pass the intercollege speciality examination to become a FRCS Plast.
Subspecialties in plastic surgery include
- hand surgery,
- breast surgery,
- trauma surgery,
- paediatric plastic surgery, and
- hand and upper limb surgery.
There are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as
- a director of medical education overseeing postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean responsible for managing the training programme.
Academic Plastic Surgery Roles
Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.
Competition for Plastic Surgery Roles
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 3.73, with 123 applications for 33 posts. The competition ratio for Core Surgical Training was 2.56, with 1,608 applications for 629 posts.
In December 2017, there were
- 475 consultants,
- 21 associate specialists,
- 44 speciality doctors,
- 437 speciality registrars,
- 162 core trainees,
- 27 F2 trainees, and
- 8 F1 trainees.
Salaries in Plastic Surgery
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life of a Plastic Surgeon
Reconstructive surgery – including trauma surgery, head and neck reconstruction, breast reconstruction, treatment for cleft lip and palate, and hand surgery – makes up the bulk of a plastic surgeon’s work. Aesthetic surgery involves procedures such as blepharoplasty, breast augmentation and reduction, liposuction and facelifts, but is less common. Additionally, surgeons will have to attend ward rounds, review patients in outpatient clinics, teach, and contribute to research. There is also regular on-call work.