Overview of the Specialty

The specialty of plastic surgery deals with the resection, repair, replacement and reconstruction of defects of form and function of the integument its underlying anatomic systems, including the craniofacial structure, the oral pharynx, the trunk, the extremities, the breast, and the perineum including aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery of structures with undesirable form.

At a Glance


  • 6 years of residency
  • Categorical and advanced positions available

These are minimum requirements. Some programs may have longer residencies.


Craniofacial Surgery1 year
Hand Surgery1 year


Median, Academic Salary$443,000
Median, Clinical Salary$425,000

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges

Pathways to Plastic Surgery

There are two pathways to plastic surgery: independent plastic surgery programs of three years duration or integrated programs of six years duration.

In the integrated programs the student enters a plastic surgery residency as a PGY1 but must still complete the prerequisite general surgery requirements specified by the ABPS and is “loaned out” to the various general surgery services to complete these requirements. The integrated training program is six years long. The independent programs accept residents who have completed either a complete general surgery training program or training in ENT, orthopedics or even neurosurgery. They are also able to accept residents who have completed three or four years of prerequisite general surgery training if it was performed at the same program as the plastic surgery residency and meets the ABPS pre-requisite training requirements.

There were 71 integrated plastic surgery residency training programs accredited by the ACGME for 2014/15 that offered 148 training positions.

Matching Program Information and Match Statistics

Plastic surgery residency training programs participate in the NRMP. Match results through the NRMP and competitiveness information for plastic surgery residency training positions are summarized in the U.S. Match Statistics table below. The majority of U.S. seniors applying for plastic surgery through the NRMP also ranked other specialty programs on their rank lists submitted to the NRMP. Many U.S. seniors applying for plastic surgery training programs also apply to general surgery residency training programs.

US Match Statistics





# Integrated positions available for U.S. Seniors148130116121
% U.S. Seniors Matched*96%83%88%91%
# Unfilled Categorical/ Advanced Positions3014
# Unmatched U.S. Seniors41495

Source: NRMP Match results for U.S. seniors applying in a single specialty. *Competitiveness is based upon the percentage of U.S. Seniors who ranked each specialty as their only choice.

WUSM Match Statistics

For a list of WUSM match statistics for the past several years, please visit Search for WUSM Statistics. (password protected)

Subspecialty/Fellowship Training

Subspecialty/fellowship training following completion of a plastic surgery residency training program is available in craniofacial surgery and hand surgery. Detailed information about the scope of these subspecialty training programs, number of positions offered, and length of training is available at the FREIDA website.

Visit AMA website »
Visit FREIDA website »

Career Information

FREIDA physician workforce information for each specialty includes statistical information on the number of positions/programs for residency training, resident work hours, resident work environment and compensation, employment status upon completion of program and work environment for those entering practice in each specialty.

Washington University Resources

Faculty Contacts

Keith E. Brandt, MD*362-4588
Ida K. Fox, MD454-6089
Susan E. Mackinnon, MD362-4586
Marissa Tenenbaum, MD996-3040
Kamlesh Patel, MD747-1193

*Faculty involved in the residency selection process.

National Organizations