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Best Medical Schools for Plastic Surgery: List of Top Schools

Doctor of Medicine programs in plastic or reconstructive surgery offer concentrations in specialties like cosmetic surgery, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, post-bariatric surgery, burn treatment and various reconstructive surgeries. Find out more about the rankings and program distinctions of the nation's top medical schools for studying plastic surgery. View article »

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School Overviews

Doctors can train for careers in plastic surgery by completing residency and/or fellowship programs at top medical schools. These programs can last up to six years and offer students the chance to work at leading hospitals and care centers.

The University of Washington, the University of California - San Francisco, and Harvard University feature leading programs in plastic surgery. U.S News and World Report nationally-ranked each of these schools in 2016. All three institutions also offer students a variety of areas of specialization to focus their training in plastic surgery.

University of Washington in Seattle

The University of Washington, also called UW, was ranked number one on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report list of best medical schools for primary care.

The School of Medicine's residents may practice at UW Medical Center, where the focus is on breast reconstruction, trunk surgeries and microsurgery. The UW plastic surgery program is recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Residents in the plastic surgery program are trained in surgical and medical care, patient care, research and administration during a 6-year residency. The first three years are spent learning general surgery and the final three are spent in a plastic surgery residency. Fellowships are also available in pediatric craniofacial and maxillofacial surgery, hand and microsurgery and burn reconstruction for those who have completed a plastic surgery residency.

University of California in San Francisco

The University of California - San Francisco, also known as UCSF, was the third best medical school for primary care, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, in 2016.

Residents of the plastic surgery program at the School of Medicine, which is accredited by the ACGME, may practice at the UCSF Medical Center, which was ranked seventh among all hospitals in 2016-17 by U.S. News & World Report. The 6-year clinical training program highlights extremity reconstruction, complex wounds, burn care and reconstruction, facial fractures, breast reconstruction, abdominal wall reconstruction and hand surgeries.

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

In 2016, Harvard University, in Boston, Massachusetts, tied as 17th among the top medical schools for primary care, by U.S. News and World Report. The plastic surgery residency program at Harvard is designed to train students for the board exam, so it emphasizes a wide range of relevant topics, including breast, cosmetic, hand, craniofacial, and reconstruction plastic surgery.

Depending on their experience, students can choose between two tracks; the first is a three year program for residents that have already completed a residency in a different concentration area. The second is a six-year program that starts with general surgery instruction, before moving on to specialized plastic surgery training.

Plastic surgery residents at Harvard can rotate through Boston's five teaching hospitals.

Top Plastic Surgery Programs

There are many other top medical schools with plastic surgery programs in the U.S.

College/University Name Distinction Location
University of California - Los Angeles University's reconstructive plastic surgery department specializes in microvascular breast reconstruction and craniofacial surgery Los Angeles, CA
University of Colorado Denver Plastic surgery residents can pursue training in 12 sub-specialties, including cosmetic surgery, burn surgery and head and neck reconstruction Denver, CO
University of Iowa Surgical residents can complete up to two years of research during their program Iowa City, IA
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Plastic surgery residents can complete surgical rotations at one of the four major medical facilities located in St. Paul, Minneapolis or Robbinsdale, MN Minneapolis, MN
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Plastic surgery residents can attend weekly conferences on subjects like orthopedic hand, craniofacial, breast and melanoma surgeries Chapel Hill, NC
University of Pennsylvania Plastic surgery residency program has a three-year independent track and a six-year integrated track Philadelphia, PA
University of Pittsburgh Plastic surgery fellows can pursue training in body contouring surgery, hand surgery, reconstructive microsurgery and pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgery Pittsburgh, PA
University of Wisconsin - Madison Plastic surgery program has a sister program in Nicaragua, and students have the option of training there during the final year of their residency Madison, WI

Many of the top ranked medical schools in the nation provide strong residency fellowship programs for aspiring plastic surgeons. Many of these programs offer concentrations in sub fields, such as extremity reconstruction and pediatric plastic surgery.


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