Quick Facts :
Reconstructive Surgery Nurse


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth


What Is a Reconstructive Surgery Nurse?

Reconstructive surgery is a surgical specialty that involves the restoration or reconstruction of a person’s body. Often associated with plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery is more than just a vanity procedure. For many patients, reconstructive surgery is essential to restore or improve the function of the body.

To some, reconstructive surgery is regarded as an art form, because one of its core purposes is to address the aesthetic of a person’s physical appearance.  It is clearly also a highly specialized branch of medicine which leans on professional knowledge and technique. There are a number of reasons why patients may need to have reconstructive surgery. Some examples include natural deformities (deviated septum causing nasal obstruction), traumatic injuries (facial bone fractures or severe burns), birth abnormalities (cleft lip or cleft palates)  and other physical problems caused by illnesses and injuries.

Reconstructive surgery nurses help care for patients before, during, and after reconstructive surgery. They provide assistance to reconstructive surgeons during a medical procedure and provide direct patient care throughout a patient’s experience.

What Do Reconstructive Surgery Nurses Do?

Assessing a patient for reconstructive surgery often involves an in-depth physical examination. In many cases, internal images, such as x-rays and ultrasounds, will also need to be examined before the actual surgery is attempted. This is to ensure that the surgery is safe and feasible.

Reconstructive surgery nurses are also often responsible for prepping patients for surgery. They may advise patients not to eat the night before the surgery, for instance, as well as help administer anesthesia. These nursing professionals will also usually be responsible for sterilizing and setting up equipment and tools needed for surgery.

As a reconstructive surgery nurse, you will also be present during the surgeries as well. You may be required to assist surgeons, for example, by handing them tools and performing basic surgical tasks. You will also be responsible for monitoring your patients during surgical procedures to ensure they remain stable.

After a reconstructive surgical procedure, reconstructive surgery nurses play an instrumental part in caring for patients as well. They will often monitor them until they come out of anesthesia and help ensure that they remain stable. Reconstructive surgery nurses will also need to change dressings, administer medications, and assist patients with everyday tasks, such as bathing and dressing.

As a reconstructive surgery nurse, you will also be responsible for getting patients ready to go home. To do this, you will often need to demonstrate how to care for wounds and change bandages and dressings. Reconstructive surgery nurses will also give their patients daily living tips.

Where Do Reconstructive Surgery Nurses Work?

The majority of reconstructive surgery nurses work alongside plastic surgeons. They may work in office, operating room, and recovery room settings. Hospitals and clinics might also hire reconstructive surgery nurses as well.

How Do I Become a Reconstructive Surgery Nurse?

In order to become a reconstructive surgery nurse, you’ll first need to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. While you’re earning this degree, you should take several courses in general surgery and patient recovery.

Once you’ve earned your degree, you will then need to pass the proper licensure examination to become either a registered nurse or an advanced practice nurse.

You can obtain certification through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board, which is part of the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses. To be eligible to take the certification examination, you will need to have at least two years of nursing experience in a plastic surgery setting within the prior five years to taking the examination.

Additional Resources for Reconstructive Surgery Nurses