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How To Become A Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgeons are highly trained professionals who specialize in restoring the form and function of the body and face. The medical field of plastic surgery is also known as cosmetic surgery, as most procedures focus on improving a patient’s appearance. Yet plastic surgery also includes reconstructive procedures to repair the form and function of tissue after an accident, disease, or due to congenital reasons.

Plastic surgeons should hold specific qualifications that require many years of studying, dedication and training. This article will analyze how a doctor can follow the plastic surgery specialty and become a cosmetic plastic surgeon.

Qualifications For Plastic Surgeons

A plastic surgeon must meet several educational and training requirements. It is an extensive process that requires both physical and mental dedication. Below is a list of relevant requirements:

1. Medical School 

Plastic surgeons must complete 5-6 years of medical studies at an accredited university whose degree will be recognized by the country they plan to offer their services in. Entry into these programs can be competitive; top candidates in the best medical schools are typically those with the highest grades in subjects such as chemistry, biology, physics, and math.

2. Medical Council’s Licensing Exams

After graduating from medical school, certified doctors must pass the country’s Medical Council exams. The exams include both a written and an oral part, covering topics like pharmacology, clinical skills, medical ethics, and anatomy. Once doctors pass the Medical Council’s exams, they receive their license and prepare for their residency program in an accredited hospital or clinic.

3. General Surgery Residency Programs

Many medical schools, universities and hospitals across the world offer general surgery residency programs that give certified doctors exposure to medical procedures, practice management and clinical experience needed to become a plastic surgeon. The duration of the residency program varies depending on the country and hospital.

Residency programs in general surgery include clinical training that gives the opportunity to certified doctors to work under the supervision of experienced surgeons. They also attend lectures, rounds, and conferences to enhance their knowledge and participate in research projects. 

4. Specialized Plastic Surgery Residency

Plastic surgery specialized programs include passing written and oral exams, demonstrating significant experience in surgery obtained during the general surgery residency program, and submitting recommendation letters.

The plastic surgery residency program includes theoretical education and clinic training, where aspiring plastic surgeons participate in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures under supervision to develop their skills and competence.

5. European Board of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery’s Exams (EBOPRAS)

Certified surgeons, who have successfully completed their residency program in Plastic Surgery, are eligible to sit for the European Board of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (EBOPRAS) exams. These exams consist of two parts designed to test candidates’ clinical skills and knowledge in plastic surgery. Candidates must demonstrate their expertise in anatomy, plastic surgery techniques, pre and post-operative care, ethics and medical law.

6. Register with Medical Association as a Plastic Surgeon

EBOPRAS-certified plastic surgeons should apply to become members of the medical association of the country they want to offer their services in. For example, plastic surgeons in Cyprus need to register with the Cyprus Medical Association. After their application is approved, plastic surgeons can offer their services at a public hospital, or private clinic, or launch their own plastic surgery practice.

7. Continuing Education & Training

The education and training of a specialized plastic surgeon does never stop. New techniques are developed and advanced plastic surgery equipment is available, so surgeons must stay up-to-date and help their patients look and feel beautiful.

Read our article on how to choose a plastic surgeon.

What Skills Does A Plastic Surgeon Need?

Becoming a successful plastic surgeon requires many different skills and abilities. Plastic surgeons must have the expertise to carry out complex surgeries with precision, discipline, and focus. 


Yet apart from the technical skills, plastic surgeons also must showcase efficient communication, diagnostic and problem-solving, emotional resilience, intelligence, and professionalism. They need to clearly explain medical procedures to their patients and collaborate effectively with colleagues in other medical disciplines. All of these qualities help ensure that the patient feels comfortable knowing that their surgeon is highly capable and professional.

Challenges Of Becoming A Plastic Surgeon

  • An incredibly long period of learning and laborious work weeks.
  • The plastic surgery industry is still fiercely competitive.
  • Plastic surgeons are responsible for their patients’ well-being and confidence. Any error could result in dire consequences.
  • High educational costs.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Plastic Surgeon?

It’s estimated that it takes almost two decades of education, training and application to reach the status of a qualified plastic surgeon.

What Is A Typical Week Of A Plastic Surgeon?

The life of a plastic surgeon is challenging and busy. They perform surgeries, supervise patients’ pre- and post-op care, visit outpatient clinics, execute research, or teach in medical schools. 

Night on-calls are also part of the job and may involve responding to medical emergencies. Working hours can be flexible, but it’s common for plastic surgeons to log up to 60-70 hours in a single week.

In summary, becoming a plastic surgeon takes nearly two decades of hard work, dedication, and financial investment but offers the opportunity to make life-changing transformations for your patients. It is an incredibly challenging yet rewarding profession with multiple potential benefits.

Dr. Demetris Stavrou - Your Trusted Plastic Surgeon in Cyprus, Greece & Malta

Dr. Stavrou graduated from the University of Athens Medical School and finished his residency in Plastic Surgery at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, Israel. He continued his training with a fellowship in “Advanced Aesthetic Surgery” at the prestigious Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery. Moreover, he is constantly updated with the most modern techniques in plastic surgery in Cyprus and cooperates closely with prestigious medical centers abroad, where he works as a visiting surgeon. He has a constant interest in research and has published a number of scientific articles. 

Discover the differences between cosmetic surgery vs plastic surgery. 


Dr Stavrou is a board-certified and highly experienced plastic surgeon in Cyprus, Greece and Malta, with a keen interest in informing patients about the latest updates on reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery.

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