Plastic surgeons perform necessary operations to correct physical abnormalities as well as optional surgeries meant only to improve aesthetic appearance. Like other types of physicians, plastic surgeons must be able to perform patient examinations, interpret diagnostic exams and counsel patients. However, becoming a plastic surgeon takes many years of schooling, so you’ll want to ensure that you can earn enough as a plastic surgeon to offset the years you've spent in school and not working.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook does not break out surgeons by speciality when listing salary information. However, according to the BLS, physicians and surgeons in specialised areas of practice earned a median of £220,829 in 2008. Meanwhile, the PayScale website listed the annual average pay for plastic surgeons as falling between £79,951 and £211,495 in 2010. That included salary, bonuses and profit sharing.
Differences Across Settings
Plastic surgeons can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and private practices. The setting in which you choose to work can impact how much you earn as a plastic surgeon. According to PayScale, those working in health care in 2010 earned the least, while those in cosmetic surgery practices earned the most. Additionally, the BLS notes that self-employed surgeons who own or part-own their practices generally earn more.
Where you choose to live can also impact how much you earn working as a plastic surgeon. For instance, according to PayScale, plastic surgeons working in Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Beverly Hills and Miami were paid the most in 2010. In Chicago, the highest paying city, the average pay for plastic surgeons was between £127,742 and £231,450 a year. In Miami, the fifth highest paying city, the range was between £78,983 and £198,332.
Plastic surgery is a field in which years of experience can make up for huge differences in pay. The Healthcare Training Center website notes that plastic surgeons with many years of experience can sometimes make as much as £533,000 a year. However, because this is a field that requires specialised medical knowledge as well as artistry, reputation also comes into play, and surgeons who are thought of as doing particularly good work may be able to command significantly higher pay.