How Do I Become a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
High rates of breast cancer may mean breast reconstruction surgeons are in high demand.
High rates of breast cancer may mean breast reconstruction surgeons are in high demand.

The person who wants to become a breast reconstruction surgeon must train in plastic surgery. Generally, reconstructive plastic surgeons are specialists who surgically repair or rebuild breasts after surgeries like mastectomies. In order to follow this route, people will need a bachelor’s degree, an M.D., and then residencies that focus on general and plastic surgery. A subspecialty of microsurgery could be further required to perform surgeries with the latest techniques and technology.

Reconstructive plastic surgeons are specialists who surgically repair or rebuild breasts after surgeries like mastectomies.
Reconstructive plastic surgeons are specialists who surgically repair or rebuild breasts after surgeries like mastectomies.

In college years, students focus mainly on taking science courses, like biochemistry and microbiology. There are two reasons for this focus. One is to prepare to take the Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®), and the other is that most medical schools require advanced studies in the sciences. Students should be certain to take all the classes they need to fulfill both of these objectives. They should also plan on getting strong grades and a very good MCAT® score if they want to be admitted to medical school.

Once accepted to a medical college, the person is well on his way to become a breast reconstruction surgeon. He’ll spend three more years focused on studies. Earning high marks is vital to keep progressing toward this goal.

The fourth year of medical school in many countries is an internship year. Students rotate into different departments, and they should pay attention to their affinity for reconstructive surgery. It’s still possible to choose another specialty or simply exit school as a general practitioner, if that appears to be a better choice.

Those who are still resolved to become a breast reconstruction surgeon join residency match programs to get training as general surgeons. These vary in length and focus. Some programs offer general surgery training and lead to a specialization in plastic surgery. Others only train in general surgery, at which point students can match with a plastic surgery fellowship. The length of these programs could be between three to seven years, depending on how they are constructed.

If a doctor wishing to become a breast reconstruction surgeon takes a general surgery residency first, he’ll then have to match with a plastic surgery fellowship or residency. Typically, physicians will spend two to three years, at least, doing this advanced training. A microsurgery subspecialty lasts another year. When doctors have met their residency or fellowship requirements, they take exams and receive certification from the appropriate medical licensing board. Some subspecialties also require board certification.

As students explore the job market, they’ll need to consider working in locales where they can principally offer breast reconstructions. Generally, this means working in suburbs or urban areas located near hospitals where women are likely to have need of this procedure. High rates of breast cancer tend to mean surgeons with this specialization are in high demand.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    • High rates of breast cancer may mean breast reconstruction surgeons are in high demand.
      High rates of breast cancer may mean breast reconstruction surgeons are in high demand.
    • Reconstructive plastic surgeons are specialists who surgically repair or rebuild breasts after surgeries like mastectomies.
      Reconstructive plastic surgeons are specialists who surgically repair or rebuild breasts after surgeries like mastectomies.