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Cosmetic surgeons have a special place within the medical world. They often must play the role of both doctor and artist, healer and sculptor. This requires them to have special skills that aren’t always required in other medical specialties.

Cosmetic Surgeons: Partly Artists, Partly Scientists

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Per Medical News Today, cosmetic surgery is a branch of plastic surgery (the other branch is reconstructive plastic surgery) practiced all over the world. The goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve the aesthetic appearance of a person. This can include the face as well as nearly all areas of the body. Some of the most common surgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States include liposuction, eyelid surgery, breast reduction, abdominoplasty, nose reconstruction, and breast augmentation. Some of the common non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States are Botox injections, laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion, photo facials, and hyaluronic acid (which includes procedures like Juvederm and Restylane).

The Importance of Empathy

Perhaps one of the most important attributes a cosmetic surgeon can have is empathy. Though bedside manner is a beneficial quality in doctors of all specialties, cosmetic surgeons typically must excel in this category. The reason for this is because their patients typically come to them for help with areas of the body they are very insecure about; a person who is overweight, for instance, may need an understanding doctor with whom to discuss liposuction. People seeking cosmetic surgeries may even be embarrassed by their bodies and not likely to solicit help from a doctor who comes across as callous, accusatory, or unsympathetic. Thus empathy, understanding, and open-mindedness are often required of all cosmetic surgeons.

The Skill of the Cosmetic Surgeon

Cosmetic surgeons must be highly skilled in the ability to leave minimal scaring (particularly in surgeries that involve the face) and an ability to work with precision. According to the American College of Surgeons, cosmetic surgeons must have special knowledge of graft design, tissue transfer, flaps, replantation, management of complex wounds, and implantable material, as well as strong foundations in surgical anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

Cosmetic surgeons don’t just help people who want to improve their appearance; they also help people who have been injured, burned, suffered skeletal damage, are recovering from cancer (such as those who have undergone mastectomies), and those who have been born with congenital deformities.

Overall, cosmetic surgeons must not only have exceptional technical skills and knowledge, but they must also possess interpersonal skills to maximize the benefits of the patient/doctor relationship.

The Marketing Aspect

When it comes to the business side of medicine, cosmetic surgeons must think differently. This is because cosmetic surgery, compared to heart surgery, for instance, is often elective rather than life saving. This makes a surgeon’s ability to market him or herself important.

According to the UCLA Newsroom, a study published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that half of plastic surgeons used social media platforms—such as Facebook and Twitter—to market their businesses.

Many cosmetic surgeons find that social media gives them immediate access to potential clients they wouldn’t otherwise meet. And, while time consuming, social media does have an advantage over more traditional types of advertising in that it can be done for little or no money.


Terrence Hernandez focuses on medical education, medical science, health and fitness, nutritional science, the medical field and other related issues; should the medical field appeal to readers offers a promising gateway into the profession.

Image credit goes to Dr. Robert Shenker.