James Brown sang about it 40 years ago: “It’s a man’s world.” And back then, when you wanted to have plastic surgery procedure, he was right: the vast majority of plastic surgeons were men.
The Growth of Females Entering the Field
When Dr. Caroline Glicksman was deciding which specialty she wanted to pursue and concentrate on, one medical field was wide open. “It wasn’t too hard to get a spot in plastic surgery,” she says, now a board certified plastic surgeon in New Jersey. “Although when I started, there were only two or three percent of women who were plastic surgeons.”
It sounds a little sexist, but was there a connection between sewing and female plastic surgeons?
Dr. Glicksman said when she was deliberating about which sub-specialty she wanted, an adviser told her plastic surgery might be a good fit for women because of the sewing expertise required for these surgeons. Dr. Glicksman, who grew up sewing, said that made sense to her … and she’s been suturing ever since.
The Numbers Show Female Surgeons are on the Rise
While the percentage of women entering medical school has risen significantly since the 60s and 70s, the increase in female plastic surgeons hasn’t risen in tandem.
The most recent statistics compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show:
- A generation ago, less than 3 percent of plastic surgeons were women
- Even today, women only comprise about 14 percent of all plastic surgeons
- More women than ever before are applying for plastic surgery residencies
“Going through my medical school training, at the time, there hadn’t been any women to finish the surgery program at my medical school,” says Dr. Camille Cash, a board certified plastic surgeon in Houstin. “Zero!”
Today’s Female Plastic Surgeons say their Gender IS Important
Despite the continued lopsided number of men in this specialty, women plastic surgeons say their gender is important for their patients.
“If a woman has a choice between a man and a woman who is just as qualified, they’ll go to a woman every time,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Laurie Casas, who practices in Chicago. “For women going to another woman, there’s just that comfort level,” concurs Dr. Glicksman. “You can say things that you wouldn’t necessarily say in front of a man. Or things you’re very embarrassed about. Things you’re very self conscious about. That you know another woman really gets it.”
Dr. Patricia McGuire, a board certified plastic surgeon in St. Louis, agrees in total.
“I think especially when it comes to cosmetic surgery, understand that I’ve had two children. And I’ve had cosmetic surgery,” she explains. “I’ve had liposuction. I’ve had Botox, Voluma, and Juvederm. [It’s great to have] someone who can relate to what you’ve been through. I think that’s a lot of the reason why patients like women doctors.”
Even some male patients seem to prefer a female surgeon. “I see a lot of male patients which is interesting that they would go to a female doctor,” admits McGuire. “I think things have changed a lot.”