iamthe1

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Dec 5, 2017
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Hey all. I know I'm pretty early in doing so, but I'm already starting to narrow down the list of specialties that I'd be most interested in pursuing. I would 100% love to pursue plastics. I love how it's one of the more innovative specialties, I love how you're not limited to one portion of the body, and I love how much meticulousness it can require. However, the pointless cosmetic procedures it includes (boob job, lipo, etc.) are keeping me from wanting to pursue it. I'm entering medicine because I want to help people who really need it, so relying on the more vain procedures (which I heard are the bread and butter of the specialty) for a successful practice makes me want to stay away from plastics. I don't mind the cosmetic procedures that are reconstructive/necessary for normal life, but is there a way someone can practice plastics without doing any of the more optional cosmetic procedures and still be successful? What do y'all think?
 

DokterMom

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It's absolutely possible to practice plastics with minimal focus on cosmetic procedures. As you note, the creativity and innovations in the field are some of the biggest draws. The appeal of cosmetic procedures is primarily financial, so if you're willing to forego the highest profit margins, you can have a fascinating career in plastics doing really meaningful work.

Assuming, of course, that you excel during med school. It's one of the very most competitive fields to get into...
 
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310prolene

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May 13, 2015
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Very possible to have a practice that doesn’t include straight aesthetic surgery. However, you should be mindful of a few things. First, there’s an inherent aesthetic aspect to reconstructive surgery. There’s a famous PRS quote — “what is the purpose of a face but to look like a face. What is the purpose of a breast to look like a breast.” This a bit facetious as function is first and foremost, but aesthetics in recon are essential as while. Secondly, many of the procedures themselves overlap. For example, if you go into breast recon you will be doing plenty of liposuction for fat grafting. The closure of a diep flap is similar to an abdominoplasty. Many local facial recon flaps are similar to raising facelift flaps. Bleph s can be cosmetic or insurance based.
Just remember; the Eason plastic surgery is the field of aesthetic surgery, is that aesthetic surgery is really applied reconstructive surgery.
 
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LateNightChef

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Jul 26, 2015
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Like others have said, there’s often an overlap between the two and aesthetics are engrained into the basic principles of PRS. The cosmetic side to plastic surgery also deterred next initially, but after meeting some of the cosmetic patients in person, My perspective definitely changed. Obviously you have those few patients that are addicted to plastic surgery, but for many, you get to help them have more confidence and a happier quality of life. That makes me feel like it’s less superficial than before
 
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iamthe1

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Dec 5, 2017
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Thanks everyone for the answer! I knew there was overlap, but I was just worried about having to rely mainly on cosmetics to keep the lights on.
 

TheLesPaul

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Aug 20, 2007
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I think you may find that a healthy cosmetics practice can subsidize your interests. Filling someone's lips does not satisfy me on a deep level, but it lets me spend 2 hours operating on the uninsured facial fracture patient and teaching the residents without worrying about keeping the lights on.
 
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Jun 10, 2020
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I think you may find that a healthy cosmetics practice can subsidize your interests. Filling someone's lips does not satisfy me on a deep level, but it lets me spend 2 hours operating on the uninsured facial fracture patient and teaching the residents without worrying about keeping the lights on.

I'm in the same place as the OP. The above is exactly what I hope to do--just enough neuromodulators and fillers let me focus on my passions.
 

Jenghiz_Khaan

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Refreshing to see someone interested in the original purpose of plastic surgery, which comes in the form of reconstructive procedures.

The downside, however, is that reconstructive pay is often abysmally low compared to the amount you'd be pulling in if you did cosmetic. You might seem content now, but the potential can be tempting. Lots of physicians forgo the niche they're passionate about in the pursuit of a doubled income, or even more in some cases. It's important to weigh both options.
 
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FalconSlice

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Refreshing to see someone interested in the original purpose of plastic surgery, which comes in the form of reconstructive procedures.

The downside, however, is that reconstructive pay is often abysmally low compared to the amount you'd be pulling in if you did cosmetic. You might seem content now, but the potential can be tempting. Lots of physicians forgo the niche they're passionate about in the pursuit of a doubled income, or even more in some cases. It's important to weigh both options.
I'll add an excerpt from Grabb & Smith here which I've always found nice:

"Plastic surgery consists of reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery but the boundary between the two, like the boundary of plastic surgery itself, is difficult to draw. The more one studies the specialty, the more the distinction between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery disappears. Even if one asks, as an insurance company does, about the functional importance of a particular procedure, the answer often hinges on the realization that the function of the face is to look like a face"
 
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