Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Community and Health

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Plastic and reconstructive surgeons repair and reconstruct muscle and tissue injuries to restore form, function and appearance. They can repair cleft lips and palates and other congenital defects, provide skin grafting and reconstruction for burns and cancer removals, and reshape bones and insert implants to rebuild the skull and facial structures. Future Growth Strong

They can repair body parts damaged by trauma, illness or malformation. They may also perform cosmetic surgery to improve aesthetic appearance.

ANZSCO description: Performs surgery to repair and reconstruct muscle and tissue injuries and congenital deformities. Registration or licensing is required.

Alternative names: Plastic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgeon

Did You Know?


The word ‘plastic’ in plastic surgery is derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos’ which means to mould or give form.

Plastic Surgeon video

It refers to the way in which one can reshape the tissues of the body to restore form and function. Since its foundation, plastic surgery has encompassed both reconstructive and cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery.

Historical evidence of these types of procedures date back more than four thousand years.

(Source: Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons)


Knowledge, skills and attributes

A plastic and reconstructive surgeon needs:

  • excellent manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination

  • to maintain concentration for long periods

  • discretion and respect for patient confidentiality

  • to be able to work well under pressure

  • to be confident and a strong decision maker

  • good communication skills to liaise with other physicians and provide clear information to patients.

Duties and Tasks

  • Examines patients to determine the necessity of operations, estimates and explains risks to patients, and selects the best operational procedures

  • Reviews reports on patients' general physical condition, reactions to medications and medical histories

  • Consults with anaesthetists regarding the correct anaesthesia for patients

  • Performs surgical operations

  • Examines instruments, equipment, and surgical set-up to ensure that antiseptic and aseptic methods have been followed

  • Instructs other medical, nursing and associated staff regarding the preparation of patients and instrument and equipment requirements

  • Prescribes post-operative care, and observes and investigates patients' progress

  • Maintains records of operations performed

  • May specialise in particular types of operations

Working conditions

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons work in private consultation practices or public hospitals, or both. They may also supervise and teach medical students. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may also be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing.

Tools and Technology

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments while operating on patients, such as tissue forceps, scalpels, tenotomy scissors, dermatomes, saws and bone drills. They may also use equipment designed for keyhole surgery, allowing them to operate inside a patient without the need for a large incision. They must wear sterile surgical attire while operating.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in plastic and reconstructive surgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.

Did You Know?

Operation Smile Australia

Operation Smile Australia is a children’s medical charity that is dedicated to helping improve the lives of children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities in developing countries.

Operation Smile Australia Limited was founded in 1999 by Dr Richard Lewandowski, a Brisbane plastic, craniofacial and reconstructive surgeon, and his wife Sue, a physiotherapist.

Operation Smile Australia



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