Job type

Cosmetic surgeon

£28k - £3m

Typical salary

40 – 45

Hours per week

Cosmetic surgeons treat people who choose to alter their appearance, and plastic surgeons repair tissue damaged through illness or injury.

More info

  • Restore appearance after injury or carry out cosmetic treatments for personal reasons
  • Combine knowledge of medicine and dentistry with the ability to work well with your hands
  • Specialise in a particular form of surgery

As a cosmetic or plastic surgeon, you'll reconstruct people's appearances through surgery.


  • Assessing patients' reasons for choosing to have surgery
  • Explaining treatment choices and risks to patients
  • Operating on emergency and scheduled cases
  • Carrying out cosmetic treatments like facelifts, implants and liposuction
  • Restoring tissue, skin and limb function, using plastic surgery methods
  • Checking patients' progress after surgery
  • Working closely with other medical and nursing staff
  • Updating patient records; and teaching trainee surgeons


You could work in an NHS or private hospital, and your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding. You may need to wear uniform and protective clothing. 

You'll need

To be a cosmetic surgeon, you'll need knowledge of medicine and dentistry, the ability to work well with your hands, thinking and reasoning skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, knowledge of biology, the ability to work well with others, knowledge of English language, and the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.

To become a cosmetic or plastic surgeon, you'll need to complete a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council; a 2-year foundation programme of general training; 2 years of core surgical training in a hospital; and up to 6 years of specialist training.

You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine without A levels or equivalent qualifications in science. This course includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year. If you already have a first class or upper second class science degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

Competition for medical degrees is strong so relevant paid or voluntary experience would prove useful.

You'll also need to pass enhanced background checks.


You could go on to specialise in particular forms of surgery, such as dealing with burns or scarring. With experience, you could apply for senior or consultant roles, leading a team of surgeons or managing a hospital surgery department. You could also move into teaching and training student surgeons, or set up your own private practice, offering cosmetic procedures.