Plastic surgery

Plastic surgeons perform reconstructive plastic surgery which restores form and function following illness or trauma. They also perform aesthetic or ‘cosmetic’ surgery which changes appearance or form.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Male trainee with surgical mask

Nature of the work

The work encompasses a wide range of conditions in different parts of the body. Plastic surgeons may work with both children and adults.

Reconstructive surgery is the main part of the job for most plastic surgeons in the NHS. The work includes:

Aesthetic surgery includes:

Aesthetic or cosmetic surgery has become very popular in the UK during the last decade. 90% of these procedures are carried out on women and much of this work is done privately.

“Operations can last from around 20 minutes for something straightforward to between six and eight hours for more complex microsurgery”. Lilli Cooper, trainee plastic surgeon,Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, West Sussex.

Read Lilli’s story

Common procedures/interventions

Plastic surgeons use innovative surgical procedures and techniques including:


There are various sub-specialties within plastic surgery including:

It’s an exciting time to be involved in plastic surgery and research is at the forefront of this specialty. Most plastic surgery units in the UK contribute to research. Projects are always highly collaborative and topics include tissue engineering, the development of scar-free wound healing and facial and hand transplants.

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Other roles that may interest you

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