Plastic Surgeon Salary

Plastic surgery is a specialized field in medicine, with its practitioners known as plastic surgeons, who in South Africa have to undergo rigorous training and certification processes before earning their licenses. One of the significant factors that attract individuals to this field is its high earning potential. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at plastic surgeon salaries in South Africa.

Understanding the Plastic Surgeon Profession in South Africa

Before delving into salary figures, let’s first get an understanding of what a plastic surgeon’s role and responsibilities entail in South Africa.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgeons are highly skilled medical professionals who specialize in reconstructive surgery to restore function and appearance to disfigured or injured body parts. They also offer elective ‘cosmetic’ procedures to enhance a patient’s appearance. In addition to this, plastic surgeons also perform medically necessary operations, such as reconstructive procedures after cancer or trauma, on both adults and children.

Plastic surgery is a complex field that requires a high level of expertise and knowledge. Plastic surgeons must be able to assess a patient’s needs and determine the best course of action to achieve the desired results. They must also be able to communicate effectively with their patients and provide them with the necessary information to make informed decisions about their treatment options.

Required Qualifications and Training

To become a plastic surgeon in South Africa, one must complete an MBChB program, which is a six-year undergraduate medical degree that includes a one-year internship. After completing their MBChB, aspiring plastic surgeons must then complete an additional minimum of four years of registrar training in plastic surgery at a university teaching hospital. This training is designed to provide plastic surgeons with the skills and knowledge they need to perform complex surgical procedures and manage patients with a range of conditions.

After completing their training, plastic surgeons must then earn their certification from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. This certification is a rigorous process that involves a written and practical examination, as well as an assessment of the surgeon’s clinical skills and knowledge. Once certified, plastic surgeons are able to practice independently and provide their patients with the highest level of care.

In addition to their formal training, plastic surgeons must also stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field. This requires attending conferences, reading medical journals, and participating in ongoing education and training programs. By staying current with the latest techniques and technologies, plastic surgeons are able to provide their patients with the best possible outcomes.

Overall, becoming a plastic surgeon in South Africa requires a significant amount of dedication, hard work, and commitment. However, for those who are passionate about helping patients and making a difference in their lives, it can be an incredibly rewarding career.

Factors Influencing Plastic Surgeon Salaries in South Africa

There are several factors that influence plastic surgeon salaries in South Africa. We’ll take a closer look at each one below.

Experience and Expertise

Experience is a crucial factor when determining salaries in any profession, including plastic surgery. Senior-level plastic surgeons who have been practicing for several years generally earn more than entry-level plastic surgeons fresh out of training. Additionally, plastic surgeons with expertise in subfields such as breast reconstruction or burn treatment are in high demand and command higher salaries.

Location and Cost of Living

Location also plays a role in determining plastic surgeon salaries in South Africa. As with many professions, salaries tend to be higher in urban areas like Johannesburg and Cape Town than in rural areas, where the cost of living is much lower.

Private Practice vs. Public Healthcare Sector

Plastic surgeons who work in private practice, as opposed to those employed in the public healthcare sector, generally earn more. However, those who work in the public healthcare sector may have lower earnings but enjoy benefits such as job security, job stability, and access to professional development opportunities.

Average Plastic Surgeon Salaries in South Africa

So, what is an average plastic surgeon salary in South Africa, you may ask? The answer is not so straightforward since it depends on various factors which we have already discussed. Below we will explore the salary ranges and breakdowns for three levels of plastic surgeons in South Africa: entry-level, mid-career, and senior-level surgeons.

Plastic surgery is a highly specialized field that requires extensive training, skill, and experience. Plastic surgeons are responsible for reconstructing, repairing, and enhancing various parts of the body. They work with patients who have suffered from accidents, injuries, or birth defects, as well as those who want to improve their appearance.

Entry-Level Plastic Surgeon Salaries

Entry-level plastic surgeons in South Africa earn an average annual salary of around R691,278. These surgeons have completed their medical degrees and have completed their residency programs. They are now starting their careers and building their practices. While their salaries may not be as high as mid-career or senior-level surgeons, they have plenty of opportunities to grow and develop their skills.

Entry-level plastic surgeons work under the supervision of more experienced surgeons and are responsible for performing basic procedures, such as skin grafts and minor reconstructive surgeries. They also assist in more complex surgeries and learn from their colleagues. They spend a lot of time building relationships with patients and learning how to communicate effectively with them.

Mid-Career Plastic Surgeon Salaries

Once a plastic surgeon has gained experience, their earning potential increases significantly. Mid-career plastic surgeons who have been practicing for between five and nine years have an average annual salary of R1,352,790. These surgeons have built up their practices and have established themselves as experts in their field.

Mid-career plastic surgeons are responsible for performing a wide range of procedures, from breast augmentations to facial reconstructions. They work closely with their patients to understand their needs and goals, and they use their experience and skills to achieve the best possible outcomes. They also mentor entry-level surgeons and share their knowledge and expertise.

Senior-Level Plastic Surgeon Salaries

Senior-level plastic surgeons who have been practicing for over ten years earn a much higher salary, with an average annual salary of R2,023,639. These surgeons are highly experienced and have built up a reputation for excellence in their field.

Senior-level plastic surgeons are responsible for performing the most complex and challenging surgeries, such as full-body reconstructions and gender confirmation surgeries. They work closely with other medical professionals, such as anaesthesiologists and nurses, to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care. They also participate in research and development to advance the field of plastic surgery.

So, if you are considering a career in plastic surgery in South Africa, it’s important to understand the different salary ranges and career paths available. Whether you are just starting out or have years of experience, there are plenty of opportunities to grow and develop your skills in this exciting and rewarding field.

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Comparing Plastic Surgeon Salaries with Other Medical Specialties

While plastic surgeon salaries are among the highest in the medical industry, some other medical specialties may earn more. Below is a comparison of plastic surgeon salaries with general surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, and cardiothoracic surgeons in South Africa.

General Surgeon Salaries

General surgeons in South Africa earn an average annual salary of R1,098,182. These surgeons are responsible for performing a wide range of surgical procedures on various parts of the body. They may perform surgeries on the digestive tract, endocrine system, breast, skin, and soft tissue. General surgeons also play a crucial role in emergency care, as they are often called upon to treat patients with life-threatening injuries or conditions.

Orthopaedic Surgeon Salaries

Orthopaedic surgeons, who specialize in the musculoskeletal system, earn an average annual salary of R1,460,304. These surgeons are experts in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of injuries and disorders affecting the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They may perform surgeries to repair fractures, replace joints, or correct deformities. Orthopaedic surgeons also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, to help patients recover from injuries and improve their mobility.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Salaries

Cardiothoracic surgeons, who specialize in surgical procedures of the heart and lungs, are among the highest earners in the medical profession with an average annual salary of R2,595,048. These surgeons perform complex surgeries to treat conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and lung cancer. They may also perform heart and lung transplants. Cardiothoracic surgeons work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as cardiologists and pulmonologists, to provide comprehensive care for patients with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Overall, while plastic surgeons may earn slightly less than cardiothoracic surgeons, they still earn a significant salary in comparison to many other medical specialties. Plastic surgeons are responsible for performing a wide range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, such as breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, and facelifts. They also play a crucial role in helping patients recover from traumatic injuries and burns. As such, plastic surgeons are highly skilled professionals who make a valuable contribution to the medical industry.


In conclusion, a career as a plastic surgeon in South Africa provides high earning potential when compared to other medical specialties. However, it is essential to consider the significant investments of time and effort in training and certification. Additionally, the earning potential fluctuates based on various factors such as experience, location, and sector of practice.

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