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What makes a Plastic Surgeon a Plastic Surgeon?

What makes a Plastic Surgeon a Plastic Surgeon?

Plastic Surgery is one of the most competitive branches of surgery and involves training for 5 or 6 years in surgery before applying for a training post in plastic surgery.  These are highly sought after and most surgeons need to undertake a higher degree and undergo a competitive interview with a high level of competition to secure a higher training post in plastic surgery.  Plastic surgery training takes 6 years during which most surgeons specialise in a particular field.  The sub-specialty fields of plastic surgery are burns surgery, breast reconstructive surgery, cleft lip and palate, craniofacial surgery, head and neck reconstruction and hand surgery.   Cosmetic surgery plays a part in all specialties of plastic surgery and is a common theme running through all of the training.  Plastic surgeons are concerned with restoring form and function in whatever that they do.  Plastic surgeons will often do a fellowship specifically in cosmetic surgery towards the end of their training. 

Not only is plastic surgery a highly sought after field, but there are only a limited number of plastic surgeons in the country making jobs in plastic surgery scarce.  In the West Midlands, there are only 7 hospitals with plastic surgeons and there are less than 300 plastic surgeons in the whole of the UK.  This has meant that surgeons from other fields have moved in to cosmetic surgery.  Your cosmetic surgeon may have trained in general surgery, ENT (ear, nose and throat), ophthalmology or maxillofacial surgery.   In fact, your cosmetic surgeon may not even be a surgeon at all; dermatologists and general practitioners (GPs) may offer cosmetic procedures, with no surgical training at all.


What do all the letters after the names mean?

MBBS, MBChB(Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) – this is the basic medical qualification that all doctors will have and will need to be registered with the GMC  and be allowed to prescribe drugs.

BSc, BA, MSc, MS, MD, PhD– these are degrees in various disciplines that surgeons may do before, during or after medical training and can take from 1 to 3 years of full-time study and research.

MRCS, FRCS(Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons) – this is the basic surgical qualification and is usually obtained after 4 or 5 years of basic surgical training.   It signifies that a basic level of surgical skill has been attained and that you are suitable to proceed to higher surgical training.

FRCS(Plast)– the letters in brackets mean the surgeon is a specialist and is qualified to work as a consultant in the NHS.   The field that the surgeon specialises in is indicated in brackets, in this case, a plastic surgeon:

Plas or Plast –    plastic surgeon

ORL -                     ENT surgeon

Gen -                     general surgeon

OMFS -                 maxillofacial surgery

Ophth -                ophthalmology (eyes)


How can I make sure that my cosmetic surgeon is a plastic surgeon?

Doctors are encouraged to make their GMC number available to patients and so if you have this, you can check on the GMC website  to see if your doctor is registered and whether they are a specialist.  Alternatively, you can search using the doctor’s name.  If the doctor has completed specialist training, they will be listed as being on the specialist register in their relevant speciality. 

If your doctor has letters after his or her name, then FRCS(Plast) signifies a fully trained plastic surgeon.

Finally, if your surgeon is a consultant plastic surgeon in the NHS, then they will have completed plastic surgery training.

VIP cosmetic surgery is one of the few providers to make sure that all of its surgeons are fully trained plastic surgeons.  Furthermore, all of the surgeons are full members of BAPRAS (the British Association of Plastic Surgeons) and BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons), which means that they have been recommended by other plastic surgeons in order to join these associations.

You can book a free consultation with a VIP plastic surgeon in one of our private hospitals throughout the West Midlands by calling one of our friendly team on 0800 0112 787 or filling in an online request form. We offer breast enlargement in Birmingham as we are based in this area.