All facial plastic surgeons are physicians who have undergone many years of education and training including college and medical school. After 20 years of education the physician applies for a “residency” in a particular subject. A “resident” is a licensed physician who is pursuing further post-graduate training after receiving a doctor’s degree from medical school.
Most facial plastic surgeons do their residency training in Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck Surgery.
Such residents have succeeded in a very competitive and selective process. Most come from the upper 25% of their medical school class. Then residency begins with one to two years of general surgical training. The resident then begins specialty training in Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck Surgery, which lasts 4 to 6 years.
In the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residency, the physician studies anatomy, physiology, illness and surgical treatment for head and neck.
After completing that residency, the surgeon then sits for the two-day certification examination in the specialty of Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck Surgery. If the surgeon passed that examination, the surgeon becomes ‘board certified’ in Otolaryngology.
The examination and residency studies focus on function as well as appearance. While it is nice to have a beautiful nose, the surgeon wants to maintain or even improve its normal functions of breathing and smelling. The surgeon also studies ear and throat surgery. The surgeon studies what is called “trauma” wounds from external sources. Parts of this world are violent, and there is an incredible volume of smashed, cut and battered faces. The resident spends hundreds of hours repairing and reconstructing these victims. This serves as an excellent training ground for the young facial plastic surgeon, for reconstructing the traumatized face deepens knowledge about bony and soft tissue anatomy, normal and abnormal appearance and all the requisite principals of facial reconstruction: the same skills that are important in Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck Surgery.
This training in the primary surgical specialty of otolaryngology/head-and-neck surgery represents the typical five-year training after graduation from medical school. Some facial plastic surgeons also enter aspects of the field through similar training in other specialties, including ophthalmology, dermatology, and plastic surgery of the body.
Some surgeons with special interest in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery then compete for one of the coveted facial plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowships. This is a full-year program offering a unique opportunity to study with one of the AAFPRS’s master surgeons.
Many facial plastic surgeons go still further and sit for a second two-day board examination given by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery That certifying board requires not only successful completion of the examination, but also peer review of surgeries performed by the applicant. Only surgeons previously certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and/or the American Board of Otolaryngology may be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reoncstructive Surgery.