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How much schooling in a plastic surgeon's curriculum is dedicated to learning cosmetic aesthetics?

Q:

How much schooling in a plastic surgeon's curriculum is dedicated to learning cosmetic aesthetics?

A:

Plastic surgery training involves learning a set of techniques and clinical judgment for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, so a sense of artistry is one of the things that draws surgeons to the specialty.  The specific answer to your question depends in part on what you mean by cosmetic aesthetics, but aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery is a major part of a plastic surgeon's training.  However, without the extensive background in the sophisticated techniques of plastic surgery, no amount of training limited to the cosmetic aesthetics is going to produce a great cosmetic surgeon in my opinion.

Richard A. Baxter, M.D.
Mountlake Terrace, WA

A:

Others have told you about the time we spend in medical school, general surgery and then plastic surgery training.

Now I will ask you to:  DEFINE BEAUTY - WHAT IS BEAUTY?

WE DEDICATE EVERY DAY IN DEFINING BEAUTY AND HOW TO ACHIEVE IT.

BEAUTY ALSO IS DEFINED BY SOCIETY, CULTURE, AND TIME.

JUST LOOK AT THE GREAT MASTERS' PORTRAITS OF BEAUTY.

A:

Aesthetics - is a huge part of the analysis process we are taught to do in plastic surgery as part of patient evaluation and surgical planning.  This is especially true for facial operations, like rhinoplasty, chin augmentation, facelift and browlift, and also for breast and body surgery too.  Making aesthetic judgments is also part of our reconstructive thinking:  what is the best way to get an abnormal structure (e.g. a cleft lip) to look like a beautiful normal one?

So, it's very much a part of the curriculum of material that plastic surgery trainees must master, in addition to learning about the relevant anatomy, physiology, surgical techniques and their application, and peri-operative management of the patient.  We're also tested on it, during our training, and in our written and oral board examination process.

All the best,

 

Thomas G. S. Fiala, M.D.M.D., F.R.C.S., F.A.C.S. - View Other Answers by this Doctor
Altamonte Springs, FL

A:

This is a great question. We tend to divide plastic surgery into cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. The reality is everything we do is a blend of both.  When we perform reconstructive surgery on the breast, we obviously want it to look as good as possible.  Conversely, when performing cosmetic surgery, we rely extensively on our reconstructive training and knowledge of anatomy.  All resident trainees in plastic surgery are required to undergo at least 3 years of plastic surgery training.  Our residents actually are now getting over 4.5 years of plastic surgery training.  It used to only be two years!  They receive lectures, conferences, and hands on participation in patient analysis, cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical techniques.  So, our residents receive daily education on aesthetic surgery which helps mold them into who they are. They are required to answer questions on both the written and oral board exam about cosmetic surgery for the American Board of Plastic Surgery as well.  It is not black and white but clearly a mixture of gray with regard to their cosmetic training.

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