Anecdotally, plastic surgeons have complained of working harder for the same or less income in recent years. They also complain of falling fees for reconstructive surgery and increasing competition for cosmetic surgery. This study examined these notions using the best available data. To gain a better understanding of the current plastic surgery market, plastic surgeon incomes, fees, volume, and relative mix of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery were analyzed between the years 1992 and 2002. To gain a broader perspective, plastic surgeon income trends were then compared with those of other medical specialties and of nonmedical professions. The data show that in real dollars, plastic surgeon incomes have remained essentially steady in recent years, despite plastic surgeons increasing their surgery load by an average of 41 percent over the past 10 years. The overall income trend is similar to that of members of other medical specialties and other nonmedical professionals. The average practice percentage of cosmetic surgery was calculated and found to have increased from 27 percent in 1992 to 58 percent in 2002. This most likely can be explained by the findings that real dollar fees collected for cosmetic surgery have decreased very slightly, whereas those for reconstructive procedures have experienced sharp declines. This study demonstrates that plastic surgeons have adjusted their practice profiles in recent years. They have increased their case loads and shifted their practices toward cosmetic surgery, most likely with the goal of maintaining their incomes. The strategy appears to have been successful in the short term. However, with increasing competition and falling prices for cosmetic surgery, it may represent a temporary bulwark for plastic surgeon incomes unless other steps are taken.
View details for DOI 10.1097/01.PRS.0000128820.10811.0A
View details for Web of Science ID 000222282100034
View details for PubMedID 15220592