Plastic surgeons are highly trained physicians who use surgical techniques to improve their patients' physical appearance. Plastic surgeons may perform reconstructive procedures to repair damage from a surgical procedure, such as breast implants following a mastectomy. Plastic surgeons may perform aesthetic procedures such as a brow lift, which may improve the patient's appearance without being medically necessary. Plastic surgeons are among the most highly compensated professionals in the United States.
The highest reported annual salary for US-based plastic surgeons on the 2006 Allied Physicians Salary Survey was $820,000. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that 20.1 percent of surgeons in Western Europe earned annual salaries in excess of $1 million, and 11 percent of plastic surgeons in China earned in excess of $2 million per year.
The top 10 percent of plastic surgeons who practiced in the United States earned in excess of $445,736 per year as if May 2011, according to Salary.com. The middle 50 percent of US-based plastic surgeons earned between $278,663 and $385,873 per year. The median annual income for US-based plastic surgeons was $320,122.
A plastic surgeon's level of income can be significantly impacted by the geographic region where she practices. Those who practice in major metropolitan areas can expect to earn higher salaries than those who work in smaller communities. The top 10 percent of plastic surgeons who practiced in the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area earned in excess of $489,419 per year. The top 10 percent of Houston, Texas-based plastic surgeons earned more than $442,171 year. Top earners in Chicago, Illinois earned annual wages of more than $472,926. The top 10 percent of plastic surgeons who practiced in Fort Smith, Arkansas earned in excess of $376,202 per year.
Plastic surgery is expensive, and if the procedure is not considered medically necessary, it may not be covered by insurance. The average cost for a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, was $5,332 as of 2010, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Breast augmentation surgery using saline implants was $3,486 while a breast reduction procedure cost $5,384. Plastic surgeons who practiced aesthetic plastic surgery tended to earn higher salaries than those who focused their practice on reconstructive plastic surgery.