What does a Cosmetic Surgeon do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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A cosmetic surgeon is a surgeon who performs cosmetic plastic surgery, a form of surgery which is designed to provide aesthetic enhancement for the patient. To become a cosmetic surgeon, a doctor completes a residency in plastic surgery which can last five to seven years, with additional training for subspecialties being optional. Cosmetic surgeons can work in hospitals and cosmetic surgery clinics, providing a range of procedures to their patients.

Plastic surgery is broken into two categories: cosmetic and reconstructive. The practice of both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is ancient, with records of basic cosmetic procedures dating back thousands of years. Modern day cosmetic surgeons have access to much more sophisticated equipment and procedures which can be used to address aesthetic concerns.

When a patient contacts a cosmetic surgeon to request a procedure, the surgeon meets with the patient to talk about the procedure the patient wants. During the consultation, the surgeon will determine whether or not the patient is a good candidate, discuss the risks of the procedure, and talk with the patient about the available options. Once surgeon and patient have reached an agreement on the procedure, an appointment for the surgery will be booked.


Cosmetic surgeons work with fully anesthetized patients, sedated patients, and patients with local anesthesia, depending on the nature of the procedure. They are usually assisted by surgical nurses and anesthesiologists who make the surgical procedure run as smoothly as possible. Some examples of procedures a cosmetic surgeon can perform include: breast augmentation, abdominal sculpting, liposuction, cheek implants, skin resurfacing, and facelifts.

The salary for cosmetic surgeons can be quite high, especially if they live in an area where there is a high demand for cosmetic procedures. These surgical professionals can also set their own schedules, and they never need to worry about being on call, because cosmetic procedures are not required in an emergency. A cosmetic surgeon also gets an opportunity to work with very diverse patients, and to deal with some interesting surgical challenges.

Although cosmetic surgeons do not perform reconstructive surgery, which is designed to repair trauma or defects, they sometimes work on reconstructive cases, providing consultation or assistance. Some cosmetic surgeons also volunteer with international organizations which provide cosmetic procedures free of charge to people in developing nations, with the goal of improving quality of life for people with disfigurements who would not be able to afford the cost of an elective procedure.


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Post 10

@bluespirit - I always thought that I would never ever get plastic surgery unless I absolutely needed it, but now that I am getting older... I cannot tell a lie - I sometimes catch myself seriously considering it.

Not yet, but maybe sometime in the future. I guess you do not know how vain you are till gravity starts taking an effect on your own face!

I liked your question about specialties, I do not know if they do, but I bet if you looked at their portfolio as some other comments suggested you would see if they have done many of the surgery you might want.

Post 9

There is a very inspiring story of a woman who was disfigured by a car accident in which she was hit by a drunk driver and much of her body including her entire face was burned.

I think what these cosmetic surgeons and reconstructive surgeons do in these cases is simply amazing. And those that live through the multiple and numerous surgeries are incredible.

@drtroubles - I never knew there was a portfolio of pictures of before and after shots, but I think that is a great idea for a prospective client to look into.

Also do cosmetic surgeons have specialties?

Post 8

I have a cousin who was involved in a major car accident, and had to have some reconstructive plastic surgery done on her face. I was amazed at the difference between the before and after.

It took quite awhile, even after the surgery, for the bruising and swelling to go down, but once that was over, there was such a big difference.

I know she was very thankful at all the amazing things they can do with plastic surgery and helped her feel much more confident about herself. It would have been much harder for her to go through life if she had not been able to have this reconstructive surgery done.

Post 7

Cosmetic surgery has become much more popular than it was years ago. Most insurance companies will not pay for cosmetic surgery, so the expense is an out of pocket expense. Even so, there are many people who are willing to spend the money for these cosmetic improvements.

Some procedures can make a big difference in helping you look younger without being extremely expensive. Although I have never had any cosmetic surgery done, as I get older I see changes that I don't like and would not be opposed to looking into it.

I think the hardest thing would be to know where to stop once you started having some procedures done. If you had one done that was successful, I think it would be easy to have more done, and somewhere there would need to be a stopping point.

Post 6

@Sunshine31- You have a point, but I also think that plastic surgeons offer a valuable service when they do pro bono reconstructive surgeries for children from other countries that would not have access to these procedures at home.

There is a group of plastic surgeons that are part of a program that go to Guatemala that offers free surgeries to children with disfigured faces due to cleft palates.

A lot of these kids were so embarrassed by how they used to look that they would cover themselves with scarves so that no one could see their deformities.

This is so amazing because many of these children are now given their childhood back as a result of these doctors’ generosity.

Post 5

@Comfyshoes - I agree with what you are saying but there are more advances in the field of plastic surgery that are less invasive. For instance there are a lot of Botox and laser treatments that can give you the same lift that a traditional face lift would have. The procedure is easily done during a lunch break and it is typically an outpatient type of procedure requiring no hospitalization.

I understand why people want to freshen up their look and appear a little bit younger. This is especially true if you are in the entertainment business because the culture is so youth oriented.

I also understand why an overweight person may want liposuction because they want to go back to what they used to look at, but some people need to realize that plastic surgery has limitations and in some cases diet and exercise might be a better option.

Post 4

@GreenWeaver - I agree. I think that there should be federal guidelines that state how long a person has to wait before they can have surgery again. Most doctors do have common sense, but at least this would act as another check and balance system that will keep patients safe and will decrease the amount of overzealous procedures.

The only problem that I see is that the people that really want a procedure will go to another country to have the procedure done. I was watching a television program about a lady that had gained 75 pounds that wanted liposuction because she felt that her hips were too large. Most plastic surgeons would refuse this type of surgery because they

would instruct this patient to lose weight first and then they would tighten up her body with liposuction.

The hip and thigh area is supposed to be a sensitive area with higher risks, but despite this the lady found a surgeon in another country that was willing to do the procedure. I think that some people are going to do what they want regardless of the risks.

Post 3

@Sara007 -I imagine that the plastic surgeon has to conduct those consultations. I wanted to add that I understand that need for reconstructive plastic surgery especially in cases of accidents or as a result of having cancer, but I don’t think that I would consider plastic surgery otherwise.

I am sort of afraid of having any type of surgery and if it is something that I really don’t need then I can live with my flaws. I think that some people really go overboard with plastic surgery and end up looking very unnatural or worse can even die because of too many elective procedures.

In fact, I read about a 25 year old woman that had seven breast

enlargement surgeries in order to further her career in adult entertainment and she ended up dying as a result of all of these surgeries.

I think that plastic surgeons should also limit the amount of surgeries a patient can have because this death was preventable. I know that some people have adverse reactions to the anesthesia and die as a result, but in this case the plastic surgeon should have refused the surgery.

Post 2

If you are considering having a procedure done by a cosmetic surgeon is it common to ask to speak with the surgeon for general inquiries? Do cosmetic surgeons actually do consultations for free, or is there always a charge?

I have noticed some billboards around our city that have a cosmetic surgeons office offering free consultations but I am wondering if these would be done with the surgeon or not. I can imagine they may have someone in doing informational sessions to make some sales.

I have never had cosmetic surgery before but I am seriously considering it. If I could speak with a surgeon before deciding on something I think it would make me more comfortable about the whole process.

Post 1

Cosmetic surgeons are not all created equal, so if you are considering having some work done I would make sure that you find someone fully qualified to do the procedure you want. Often cosmetic surgeons have a specialty, such as been great at doing noses or liposuction, so doing your research can lead you to the right person for what you need done.

Also remember, that just because an office offers all services, doesn't mean you should get everything from the same place.

A good rule of thumb is also to make sure that you check out the doctors other work. They should have a portfolio of before and after shots. These can give you a good idea of what you are getting into.

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