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Handle with care

Plastic surgery is often wrongly confused with cosmetic surgery. Surgical intervention is required for treating serious burns, fractures of facial bones and birth defects, tumours and other abnormalities which can seriously impair a person’s health or looks.

education Updated: Aug 06, 2013 13:13 IST

The lowdown



Plastic surgery is often wrongly confused with cosmetic surgery. Surgical intervention is required for treating serious burns, fractures of facial bones and birth defects, tumours and other abnormalities which can seriously impair a person’s health or looks. Such procedures are often complicated, requiring microsurgery to graft tissues, skin and bones on to the injured part of a body from another part or from donors. Reconnecting them through veins or arteries to restore blood supply can also be a very complicated process, for which surgeons require infinite patience and great surgical skills. Cosmetic surgery is a part of plastic surgery, but something done purely to improve the looks of the person who opts for it. Given the focus on one’s appearance in today’s world - cosmetic surgery has become almost mandatory for celebrities and filmstars who want to maintain their youthful looks. From breast enhancements and augmentations to tummy tucks to removal of wrinkles to reshaping of eyelids, people from the US to the UK, from India to China, are going in for all kinds of cosmetic treatment. Though one might argue that it can also improve one’s self confidence, cosmetic surgery can be an expensive affair and thus a very tempting career option for skin specialists, opthalmologists too.

Clockwork
6.30am: Reach Hospital
8am-9am: Round up of the ward and meet patients
9pm-4pm: Visit out-patients’ department or operation theatre
4pm-5pm: Teaching session
5pm-6pm: Pre/postoperative rounds/administrative work

The ­payoff
In a government set up, a cosmetic surgeon can expect to get nearly Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 80,000 per month depending on his experience and expertise. Besides, they are also entitled to various perks and ­allowances such as free ­accommodation, medical coverage, paid vacation, sick days, paid ­holidays and post retirement ­pension with flexible work schedule. In a private set-up one can get Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh a month. A ­senior person with ­experience can get around Rs. 2 lakh in a government set- up and in a ­private set- up one can get anything between Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 6 lakh a month

Skills/TRAITS
* Many doctors claim that they can perform cosmetic surgery, but they are not licensed cosmetic surgeons. A well-trained surgeon will have no reservations about revealing his training history
* The biggest challenge is to ­understand the patient’s ­expectations and make him/her understand what is realistically achievable. This requires a lot of honesty and introspection
* One needs to have sound surgical training in all aspects of ­reconstructive surgery followed by exposure to the cosmetic ­procedures
* Capacity to work for long hours along with genuine desire to treat patients

Getting there
Take science with physics, ­chemistry and biology as main ­subjects. Appear in any ­medical entrance test conducted by various state and independent bodies - such as the premedical entrance test taken by the Punjab government or the All India Pre Medical Test conducted by the CBSE etc. Separate tests are conducted by some of the highly rated medical institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune etc. These exams are generally held in the month of May or June. You can go in for a master’s in plastic surgery after ­completion of the MBBS course and a one-year-and -six-month ­compulsory training programme. After completing the specialisation ­courses and getting the mandatory registration from the Medical Council of India, you can get a job in any ­government and private hospital. Cosmetic surgeons who only do crash courses in aesthetic ­procedures and have not ­undergone supervised training, may not be able to manage ­complications arising from the procedures they will be ­performing. Thus, a training ­programme in necessary. For further ­specialisation or research work, one can opt for MCh in plastic ­surgery

Institutes and URLs
* Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; pgimer.nic.in
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi;
www.aiims.edu/aiims/departments/Surgery/mainpage.htm
* Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi; www.vmmc-sjh.nic.in
* Madras Medical College, Chennai; www.mmc.tn.gov.in
* King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai; www.kem.edu

Pros and cons
* Takes a lot of hard work and time to be fully qualified as a cosmetic surgeon
* Gratitude of patients is the most rewarding part of the job
* Decent remuneration
* Very satisfying and ­fulfilling career
* A botched up job can lead to trouble and lawsuits. A person’s looks can be ruined, too

Be ethical, compassionate and honest in your dealings with patients. The joy of seeing a happy and satisfied patient cannot be measured in terms of money ---- Ramesh Kumar Sharma, professor and head, ­department of plastic surgery, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh