A survey of cosmetic surgery training in plastic surgery programs in the United States

Colin M Morrison, S Cristina Rotemberg, Andrea Moreira-Gonzalez, James E Zins
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2008, 122 (5): 1570-8

BACKGROUND: Aesthetic surgery is evolving rapidly, both technologically and conceptually. It is critical for the specialty that aesthetic surgery training keep pace with this rapid evolution. To shed more light on this issue, a survey was sent to all program directors and senior plastic surgery residents to record their impressions of the quality of cosmetic surgery resident training. The authors report the results of this national cosmetic surgery training survey canvassing all 89 plastic surgery programs.

METHODS: A three-page survey delineating resident preparedness in aesthetic surgery was sent to senior plastic surgery residents and program directors in April of 2006 and collected through October of 2006.

RESULTS: Of 814 surveys, 292 responses were obtained from 64 percent of program directors and 33 percent of senior residents. Breast augmentation, breast reduction, and abdominoplasty were most frequently performed with the highest resident comfort levels. Rhinoplasty remained a particular area of trainee concern, but confidence levels were also low in face lifts, endoscopic procedures, and body contouring techniques. Experience with skin resurfacing, fillers, and botulinum toxin type A was another area of concern. Although 51 percent of residents felt prepared to integrate cosmetic surgery into their practices on graduation, 36 percent felt that further cosmetic training was desirable.

CONCLUSIONS: The information collected revealed significant differences in opinions between program directors and senior residents. Senior residents felt deficient in facial cosmetic, minimally invasive, and recently developed body contouring techniques. On the basis of these results and the authors' experience in resident education, changes in cosmetic surgery training are suggested.

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