Women now represent approximately one-third of plastic surgery residents. The impact of a career in plastic surgery on family planning is unknown. The aim of this study was to report the current status of fertility and childbearing outcomes of practicing female plastic surgeons.
Following institutional review board approval, an anonymous online survey was distributed to all female active and candidate members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Data collected included demographics, number and outcomes of pregnancies, obstetric complications, infertility, maternity leave, and breastfeeding.
The response rate was 20%. Female plastic surgeons were less likely to have children and gave birth to their first child at an older age compared with the U.S. population. Plastic surgeons had seven times higher odds of having difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy than American women. The rate of miscarriage was twice that of the U.S. population. Furthermore, the rates of obstetric complications and congenital malformations were higher than the U.S. population (47% versus 20%, and 8% versus 4%, respectively). Women took a mean of 6.6 weeks for maternity leave. Forty-three percent were dissatisfied with leave, and longer leave correlated with higher satisfaction. The mean length of breastfeeding was 7.6 months. Women who breastfed for a longer duration were more likely to feel satisfied with the amount of time they breastfed.
Plastic surgeons are at high risk for infertility, miscarriage, congenital malformations, and obstetric complications. The data in this article provide a groundwork for identifying areas of concern and potential solutions.