Plastic Surgeon Career Information
What a Plastic Surgeon does
The term plastic surgery comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means to mould or give form. Plastic surgical procedures fall into two major categories, reconstructive and cosmetic. Those who wish to become a plastic surgeon should be aware of these facts.
Reconstructive procedures are carried out with the goal of restoring the form and in many case the function of the body parts that are abnormal. Those who intend to become a plastic surgeon should know that this is the painful branch of Plastic Surgery where you will deal with accident victims; severe burn injuries and people born with physical deformities.
Cosmetic Surgery on the other hand will bring you face to face with wannabe Miss Indias as well as models and film stars. These are operations done purely to enhance the physical appearance. Procedures such as face-lifts, nose reshaping done only for appearance, fat suction, etc. fall under this category.
Once you are a certified Plastic Surgeon your first option and the one most preferred is to work under a renowned plastic surgeon for a while. This is a good way to learn the tricks of the trade and establish your reputation in the field. As a Plastic Surgeon, your next option is to be a consultant with a hospital, which is not easy. Apart from recommendations from well-known doctors, you need to get published in medical journals to be eligible for this.
If you love teaching you could try the option of working as a lecturer with an academic institution. Of course you can also start your own practice immediately after you have done your course. Besides, the rent or investment in premises, you will have to spend between Rs 80000-100000 on equipment. It takes about three to five years to establish yourself in the field.
The prospects for a plastic surgeon are very bright to say the least. With people becoming more and more conscious of their looks, skilled surgeons with steady hands and steely nerves are very much in demand the world over. "There is not much work in the field of reconstructive surgery but as far as cosmetic surgery is concerned plastic surgeons have never ever been that busy. The trend is expected to increase as far as people have an urge to look good," says Dr Sattur.
Abilities & Traits Required
What about the personal attributes? Good aesthetic sense tops the list. Actually a Plastic Surgeon is an artist who gives shapes to people's nose, eyes, smiles and what have you.
Strong communication skills come next. You got to be able to explain the limitations of this field to people who come with dreams in their eyes. Often you will have to explain that a Plastic Surgeon is not a magician who can turn ugly ducklings in to beautiful swans.
As a Plastic Surgeon you have to convince your patients about what is possible and what is not. "Usually, the problem is not so much with the looks but in the brain. We then have to refer these patients to psychologists," says Dr Sattur renowned plastic surgeon and consultant (plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery) at various hospitals.
A course in plastic surgery, which is offered as a super speciality in Mumbai in government-run colleges lasts for three years.
Plastic Surgery needs super specialisations in medicine. It involves many years of training. After putting in four and a half year for an MBBS degree, you have to serve in a government hospital or college for about a year. Only then will you be eligible for a Master's degree course in surgery.
Here you can specialise in General Medicine, ENT, Ophthalmic, or Orthopaedic surgery.
Hold on, we are not done yet. You will then have to take up a super specialty course or Master of Chirurgiae (MCh) in Plastic Surgery. Yes, it is long winding road.
Though Plastic Surgery is a Super Specialisation and there aren't too many Plastic Surgeons around, don't expect to make potfulls of money as soon as you finish the course. The truth is that the initial 2-3 years when you will be working with a renowned plastic surgeon will be tough.
If you are lucky you'll be paid Rs 20000-40000. This is obviously not much considering all that work you put in becoming a plastic surgeon. Moreover there are some doctors who believe you don't deserve to be paid as far as you are learning the tricks of the trade.
Yet another option after the M.Ch is to work as a lecturer with an academic institution, at a pay of Rs 35000- 55000 per month in the beginning. You can also start your own practice right away.
When you start your own practice, your earnings usually depend on the number of references you receive from other doctors and the locality where you set up practice.