Schools and Residency Programs for Cosmetic Surgeons: How to Choose

Cosmetic surgery is the process of using plastic or reconstructive surgery principles in order to achieve an aesthetic goal for the purpose of beautification. Cosmetic surgery is typically explored in 1-year fellowship programs following a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

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Plastic and cosmetic surgery residencies are generally required for medical school graduates who are interested in ultimately becoming cosmetic surgeons. These residencies can be found at the medical schools of 4-year universities, clinics and hospitals.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Schools

Each of these schools offers a residency program in plastic and/or reconstructive surgery:

College/University Location Institution Type
Harvard University Boston, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private not-for-profit
University of California San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, Public
University of Pennsylvania, Perelman Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private not-for-profit
University of Chicago, Prizker Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when choosing a plastic and reconstructive surgery school:

  • Get more information about the curriculum to make sure that the general and specialized coursework meets your educational needs.
  • If you are interested in treating particular groups of patients, such as burn victims, pediatric patients or bariatric reconstruction patients, find a residency that allows you to work with these groups.
  • Find out if the program gives students the opportunity to work under the supervision of mentors, allowing for a more personal educational experience.
  • Get more information about on-campus social organizations, which can provide opportunities to network, discuss surgical journals and listen to guest lecturers.

Residency in Plastic Surgery

A residency program in plastic surgery may be completed in 3-6 years, depending on the prior surgical experience and education of the student. Clinical experiences may be required in areas such as hand trauma, pediatric reconstruction, cardiac and vascular reconstruction, burn victim treatment, urology and neurosurgery. Publishable research projects may also be required. The didactic aspect of residency training typically involves attending conferences and seminars.

After earning a medical degree, aspiring cosmetic surgeons can enroll in a residency program focused specifically on the field, which can provide advanced coursework and clinical experience in order to prepare them for this career.

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