Cosmetic surgeon

Plastic surgeon, reconstructive surgeon

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Cosmetic surgeons treat people who choose to alter their appearance. Plastic surgeons repair tissue damaged through illness or injury.

Salary range: £27,689 to ££74,661

How to become a cosmetic surgeon

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

To become a cosmetic or plastic surgeon you’ll need to complete:

  • a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
  • a 2-year foundation programme of general training
  • 2 years of core surgical training in a hospital
  • up to 6 years of specialist training

You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine without A levels or equivalent qualifications in science. The course includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.

If you already have a first class or upper second class science degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you’ll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

There’s a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 7 (A* or A), including English maths and sciences
  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry

More information

More information

Registration

Further information

You can find out more about how to become a cosmetic or plastic surgeon from the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of English language
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • assessing patients’ reasons for choosing to have surgery
  • explaining treatment choices and risks to patients
  • operating on emergency and scheduled cases
  • carrying out cosmetic treatments like facelifts, implants and liposuction
  • restoring tissue, skin and limb function, using plastic surgery methods
  • checking patients’ progress after surgery
  • working closely with other medical and nursing staff
  • updating patient records
  • teaching trainee surgeons

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

Career path and progression

You could specialise in particular forms of surgery, for example dealing with burns or scarring. With experience, you could apply for senior or consultant roles, leading a team of surgeons or managing a hospital surgery department.

You could also move into teaching and training student surgeons, or set up your own private practice, offering cosmetic procedures.

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