5 Things You Need to Create a Successful Career as a Plastic Surgeon

By Dr. Victor Liu

1. Excellent academic performance.

To be a successful plastic surgeon, you must be an excellent doctor and surgeon; to accomplish that, you need proper training.  I went through the traditional way of training, which is to become a general surgeon first, then a plastic surgeon. The advantage of this is that a general surgeon does surgery on every part of the body, and so does a plastic surgeon. In plastic surgery, you use general plastic surgery principles to deal with the different parts of the body. In general surgery, it is extremely helpful in these aspects.

2. Strong clinical skills.

It is important to learn what is needed for a particular patient, how to do it, and actually to do it.  So, it is extremely important to be exposed to various conditions and guided by experts in dealing with the different aspects.  Continuing education is extremely important because there are constantly new developments.  In my case, I have concentrated on eyelid surgery and facelifts, especially the less aggressive techniques. And I have also focused on treatment for male enhancement encompassing surgical and non-surgical procedures using various techniques derived from my training in plastic and reconstructive surgery and general surgery.

3. Passion for plastic surgery. 

Plastic surgery is such a wide field that in order to excel at what you do and to keep up with the latest developments, you have to be passionate about plastic surgery. The best way to keep current is to attend meetings in which new procedures are introduced.  Your experience as a surgeon will enable you to select the sessions that are appropriate and beneficial for your practice. In my case, I chose to do male enhancement as well as treatment of erectile dysfunction. Male enhancement is at the same stage as augmentation mammoplasty when it first started many years ago. While augmentation mammoplasty is sought mainly for aesthetic reasons, patients want male enhancement for appearance and function. The procedures for male enhancement have developed rapidly in the last few years. In my situation, I applied the principles of my training in both general surgery and plastic surgery to my practice in male enhancement. Male enhancement compromises not only the enlargement of the penis but also the symmetry and proportion of the different parts of the penis.  This requires surgical skills as well as artistry. Achieving the correct proportion and symmetry of the genital area is crucial to an aesthetically pleasing result. Other aspects of male enhancement include the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and with the rapid development of regenerative medicine, including PRP and stem cells, correction of erectile dysfunction is an exciting field to be in.

4. Excellent communication skills.

Another important aspect of plastic surgery is communication skills. It is an art form to communicate with a patient when something needs to be corrected.  Sometimes, patients come in with a complaint, but in fact, they want something else. It is important to realize this and understand what each patient wants. The reason patients do not say what they want is that they are often embarrassed to do so. Communication skills come into play here, first, in listening to the patient carefully to elicit what the patient really wants and second, in explaining what would be more appropriate for them. Once you start telling them that, they will tell you exactly what they want. Also, sometimes the patient comes in for a particular complaint but in order to obtain a good result, other parts of the anatomy need to be treated and other procedures need to be performed. It is an art form to let the patient know this without sounding as though you are trying to create more surgical procedures for the patients.

As stated, plastic surgery is a rapidly developing field and has branched into many aspects of different specialties. For instance, male enhancement has been traditionally done by urologists, although plastic surgeons have made many advances in area.  And, as stated earlier, enlargement of the penis is not an independent procedure and should be associated with other procedures such as correction of the hanging or redundant pelvis skin and fat. In order to improve the appearance, often a plastic surgical procedure, such as abdominoplasty or liposuction, is required.

5. Commitment to lifelong learning. 

This is important because of the rapid developments in plastic surgery, both in the surgical and non-surgical areas. One has to keep up with  the latest advancements in order to be able to offer the patient a variety of beneficial options. 

The best way to continue education in plastic surgery is to attend meetings, read journals and visit other plastic surgeons performing new techniques or new approaches to existing techniques.

In developing my skills in male augmentation, I have read extensively on different 

surgical and non-surgical enhancement procedures of the male genitals, and I have visited different surgical centers that specialize in this field, both in the US and internationally. 

To be a good plastic surgeon, one has to have good medical training and surgical observation and training. One has to be passionate about the field, have a lifelong commitment to continuing education, and have excellent communication skills to explain to patients the best options for them.

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