So You Want to Be a Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon?
By: Dr. Kenneth Benjamin Hughes, MD
The next 4 years you will be away from home looking to function entirely for yourself. If you are able to get through all of the premedical requirements with good grades and are able to do well in all of your other classes you may be able to get into medical school (though it may take more than one time applying).
Now in medical school you must endure 4 years of additional instruction in medical knowledge and practice with studying around the clock for most to obtain decent grades. If you make it through medical school at the top of your medical school class and score in the top 1 to 5% on the Medical Board Exams with several publications to boot, you may be able to secure a spot in an Integrated Plastic Surgery Program (with only 70 positions in the country). You have a better chance of winning the lottery, all things considered.
Assuming you get into the plastic surgery residency, you then have at least six, if not seven or more, years of residency during which time you will subjected to constant putdowns, sleep deprivation, little time for exercise or relationships, and the stress of functioning optimally to take care of your many responsibilities of patient care and didactic learning as well as more exams and more research publications.
When you finally graduate from the plastic surgery residency you have to make a decision on whether or not to pursue a fellowship in cosmetic surgery to make you more competitive. Assuming you can even get a spot at one of the more competitive plastic surgery fellowships, you will experience another year of call, long hours, presentations, paper writing and publishing. As you are finishing up your plastic surgery fellowship, you will have to take your written boards, and you will have to determine where to work.
Some graduates prefer to stay in academia or join a group practice close to where they worked or grew up, because these are safer choices with guaranteed income. However if you want to practice cosmetic plastic surgery in a large, competitive metropolitan center, you may have to move 2000 miles across country and try to perform enough surgeries to be able to take your oral boards to become board certified. You will need a lot of determination and perseverance when everyone tells you that this is impossible or that there is no work or that many plastic surgeons have had to close their doors due to poor business.
You will hear it from every single person you meet that it can't be done. So you sign on at a local hospital or hospitals to take call for facial and hand trauma to get enough reconstructive cases to qualify for your boards. The rest of your time is devoted to largely cosmetic surgery as you try to build your practice and reputation.
You will also need a website and an internet presence and a social media presence. To get all of this done you will need hundreds of hours of dedication to the materials on your website, and you will need to gather hundreds (or thousands) of before and after photos to have a realistic chance of success. Somewhere in the midst of all of this you must gather all of your cases to take the oral boards, study the material, and pass the oral board exams that occur over a several day period.
During this period of time you will be determining your true skill set as an individual as you are on your own without anyone to hold your hand. Many will balk in this environment, but the most talented and driven will thrive. Then the real fun begins in the sense that if you're in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles or New York City you will be competing with thousands of other surgeons for the few patients who want to have surgery. You will have to distinguish yourself in one form or fashion from those individuals.
If you are one of the few plastic surgeons fortunate enough to operate on several hundred patients a year, you have developed your practice and have a large patient base. However, this is just the beginning. It is certainly nothing like the magical Hollywood lifestyle as presented in movies and on TV.
Please visit Dr. Kenneth Hughes, MD at https://www.hughesplasticsurgery.com.
Dr. Kenneth Benjamin Hughes, MD
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon