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15 Types Of Surgeons with an Allopathic medicine or Osteopathy degree that perform surgery

Posted by Callie Torres
January 04, 2021

A Surgeon is a medical doctor that specializes in using surgical and nonsurgical techniques to medically manage many diseases and disorders. There are a wide variety of surgical specialties and subspecialties. This article focuses on surgeons that complete an Allopathic medicine program or obtain an Osteopathy degree. There are two distinct paths that a medical student can follow to become one of the many different types of surgeons, the main difference being the type of surgical residency completed:

  1. Physicians that complete a general surgery residency
  2. Physicians who complete other surgical specialty residencies

What are 9 Types of Surgeons That Complete A General Surgery Residency?

After completing medical school, MD and DO Physicians have several different routes to become a Surgeon. The first path includes completing a general surgery residency which lasts 5 years.  

1. General Surgeon

According to The ACS (The American College of Surgeons), MD and DO general surgeons are the types of surgeons that treat the widest variety of surgical conditions. They treat surgical disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, head and neck, breast, skin, soft tissue, upper and lower extremities, and endocrine systems. The most common conditions addressed in patients include:

  • Breast Disease
  • Gall Bladder Disease
  • Hernias
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Acute Abdomen/Appendicitis

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General Surgeon Subspecialties:

After completing residency, general surgery trained physicians have the option of completing additional specialized training termed a fellowship. Surgical fellowships last at least one year but can continue up to four years.  Common fellowships after general surgery residency include, but are not limited to:

2. Colorectal Surgeon

Colorectal surgeons treat diseases of the intestinal tract, rectum, colon, anus, and perianal area. Colorectal surgeons provide care to patients of all age groups and encounter a wide variety of medical conditions. The most common conditions addressed by colorectal surgeons include: 

  • Colon Cancer
  • Anorectal Disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Gallbladder Disease


Length Of Surgery Fellowship Training Overview

After completion of general surgery residency, a one-year-long surgical fellowship is completed in Colon and rectal surgery at one of the 55 American training programs.

3. Pediatric Surgeon

Pediatric surgeons operate on patients that range in age from newborns to teenagers. They specialize in medically treating many conditions while operating on complex cases such as tumors in children and small patients. The most commonly encountered surgical conditions that pediatric surgeons treat include:

  • Appendix Removal
  • Cancer Resection Surgery
  • Congenital Malformations Correction
  • GI Disorders
  • Intestinal Hernias

Length Of Surgery Fellowship Training

After completion of general surgery residency, a two-year surgical fellowship in pediatric surgery is required at one of the 46 programs in the US.  Neonatal surgery is a subspecialty of Pediatric surgery. A common misconception is that a Pediatrician performs surgery. Pediatricians do NOT perform surgery.

4. Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgeons specialize in the repair, reconstruction and replacement of physical defects in the body.  The most common surgical conditions addressed by plastic surgeons include:

  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Skin Cancer
  • Breast Reconstruction
  • Breast Reduction Surgery
  • Hand Surgery

Length Of Surgery Fellowship Training Overview  

After completion of general surgery residency, a two-year surgical fellowship in plastic surgery is completed in one of the 71 programs in the US. A plastic surgery fellowship can also be completed after residency in neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology (ENT) or urology.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

Plastic surgeons can further specialize into craniofacial surgery or hand surgery.

5. Thoracic Surgeon

Thoracic surgeons specialize in surgically treating organs located within the chest including the lungs, esophagus, chest wall, trachea, heart, mediastinum, and diaphragm. The most common conditions medically addressed by a thoracic surgeon include:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Non-Cardiac Vascular Disease
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Congenital Heart Disease

Length Of Surgery Fellowship Training Overview

After completion of the five-year general surgery residency, a two-year surgical fellowship is completed in thoracic surgery at one of the 65 programs across the US. According to the AMA, subspecialties are adult cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery, and pediatric heart surgery. Cardiothoracic surgery operations can be performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon.

6. Vascular Surgeon

Vascular surgeons specialize in treating diseases and disorders of the arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels. The most surgical common conditions that vascular surgeons treat include:

  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
  • Carotid Disease
  • Venous Insufficiency
  • Dialysis Access Surgery

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After finishing the 5 year general surgery residency, a two-year fellowship in vascular surgery is completed at one of the 107 programs in the US.

7. Transplant Surgeon

Transplant surgeons specialize in performing surgical transplants of organs and tissues from donors to recipients. This includes not only whole organ transplantation but also smaller transplants such as skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, veins, and heart valves. The most common organs transplanted are:

  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Pancreas

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After completion of the 5 year general surgery residency, fellowship in transplant surgery lasts up to three years and programs are located nationwide.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

Transplant surgeons can choose to either to train to perform surgical transplants of several different organs or focus on one particular organ system. For example, a surgeon that focuses on transplanting multiple different organs may be an abdominal transplant specialist. Another example includes a surgeon that may choose to further focus only on one organ and become a transplant nephrology specialist who only works with the kidneys.

8. Bariatric Surgeon

Bariatric surgeons have expertise in using surgical intervention to treat obesity and help patients to lose weight. The most common types of surgeries utilized to help patients lose weight include:

  • Roux-en Y Gastric Bypass
  • Gastric Banding/Lap Band
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Duodenal Switch

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

Following completion of general surgery residency, bariatric surgery fellowship typically lasts one year. It is important to note that some general surgeons may be trained and perform bariatric surgery although they did not complete a bariatric surgery fellowship at one of the accredited bariatric surgery programs.

9. Trauma Surgery/Critical Care Surgeon

Trauma surgeons specialize in taking care of critically ill surgical patients. Trauma surgeons may also be called surgical critical care specialists and acute care surgery specialists. Many trauma acute care surgeons also specialize in taking care of burn conditions as well. Common procedures that a trauma surgeon utilizes include:

  • Explorative Laparotomy
  • Emergency Thoracotomy
  • Resuscitation
  • Chest Wall Stabilization
  • Perforated Organ

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After completion of the 5 year general surgery residency, a fellowship in trauma or critical care surgery is completed. The length of fellowship and type of training varies between programs for trauma surgeons.

specialty doctor with minimally invasive procedure involving an ocular type of  surgery


back specialty M.D. and nursing staff


What are 6 Different Types of Surgeons That Complete Other  Surgical  Residencies after Medical School

The second category of types of surgeons is made up of physicians who have specialized skills and perform surgery but did not complete a general surgery residency. These MDs and DOs were trained to perform specialized types of surgery during their specific residency. The 6 most common examples include:

Obstetrics and Gynecology
Orthopedic Surgery

10. Ophthalmology - Ophthalmic surgeon

An Ophthalmologic Surgeon, also known as an Ophthalmic surgeon, and Ophthalmologists are the types of surgeons that will treat the eye, orbit, and visual system . In addition to operating using minimally invasive surgery techniques, ophthalmologists provide vision checks and prescribe medication for eye infections and provide RXs for glasses and contacts. The most common surgical conditions treated by ophthalmologists include:

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After finishing medical school, a one-year internship, also called a preliminary year, is completed in either internal medicine or general surgery. After the conclusion of a surgical or internal medicine intern year, the ophthalmology specialty residency requires three years of training at one of the 116 programs nationwide.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

Ophthalmologists can specialize in many particular portions of the eye including the cornea and the retina as well as certain diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. Other ophthalmic surgery specialties include pediatrics, oculoplastics, and neurological ophthalmology.

11. Obstetrics and Gynecology

Obstetric and gynecologic surgeons treat a wide variety of conditions that affect women both young and old. In addition to infertility the most common conditions addressed include:

  • Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
  • Menopausal Concerna
  • Vaginitis

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After finishing medical school, a four-year residency in obstetric and gynecological surgery is required at one of the 242 programs nationwide.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

Surgical subspecialties in obstetric and gynecology include female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, gynecologic oncology surgery, maternal-fetal medicine, and reproductive endocrinology. These specialties require at least one year of fellowship to be completed after residency.

12. Urology Surgeon

A Urological surgeon also known as a Urologist focuses on the surgical and medical management of the female and male genitourinary systems which includes the urethra, kidney, bladder, ureter and prostate. The most common addressed surgical conditions in patients is not usually cancer but does include:

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After completion of medical school, a five-year residency in urology is required. The first year of residency is spent in general surgery as a preliminary year, while the last four are spent in urology. There are 126 urologic surgery programs in the US.

13. Otolaryngology

Otolaryngologic surgeons, also called ENTs (ear, nose, throat) Otolaryngologists or Otorhinolaryngologists, surgically treat patients of all ages with conditions that affect the head, neck, ears, throat, nose, upper respiratory system, and upper esophagus. The most common surgical conditions that an Otolaryngologist may address include:

  • Sinusitis/Sinus Disease
  • Otitis Media
  • Hearing Loss
  • Head and Neck cancers and tumors
  • Allergies

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After completion of medical school, a residency of five years in otolaryngology is completed at one of 106 programs that include ENT surgery across the US.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

There are several subspecialties that an otolaryngologic surgeon can complete. Fellowship in one of the subspecialties lasts at least a year. Some examples of subspecialties for otolaryngologic surgeons include neuro-otology, pediatric otolaryngology, rhinology, and head and neck specialists.

14. Orthopedic Surgeon

An Orthopedic surgeon, also known as an Orthopedist specializes in treating diseases, disorders and trauma, and injuries that affect the arms, legs, back, and spine. An orthopedic surgeon commonly addresses musculoskeletal surgical conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Back Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After finishing medical school, a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery is completed at one of the 156 programs nationwide.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

There are many different types of subspecialties that an orthopedic surgeon can complete. This includes: adult reconstructive orthopedics, foot and ankle orthopedics, hand surgery, musculoskeletal, oncology, sports medicine, spine surgery, trauma, and pediatric surgery.

In different areas, this highly skilled physician may be more referred to and spelled as Orthopaedic surgeon that performs Orthopaedic surgery. This is the original British term for the profession but is less commonly used.

15. Neurological Surgeon

A Neurological surgeon, commonly known as a Neurosurgeon, primarily treats disorders of the nervous system- including the neurovascular supply and neurological support structures. The nervous system includes the brain, meninges, skull, nerves and spinal cord. The most common conditions addressed by neurological surgeons include:

  • Back Pain
  • Brain Tumors
  • Cervical Pain
  • Nervous System Trauma
  • Neurological Vascular Disease

Length Of Surgery Training Overview

After completion of medical school, a seven-year residency in neurological surgery is required at one of the 105 surgical training programs nationwide.

Further Surgeon Subspecialties

Due to the high complexity of the neurological system, neurological surgery has many different types of subspecialties. Neurologic surgeon subspecialties include spine surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, neuro-trauma, neuro-oncology, neuro-intensive care, functional neurosurgery, endovascular surgical neuroradiology, and cerebrovascular skull base surgery.

female surgeon


African american doctor


New Types Of Innovations in Surgery

By far, the most impactful recent technology innovation in general surgery is the use of robotic laparoscopic surgery. When comparing robotic surgery to traditional surgery there are several drastic improvements. The use of a robot during surgery allows for the highest possible level of dexterity which supersedes human experience and flexibility. The robot technology also allows for greater ability to access hard-to-reach areas during surgery. Additionally, surgical time is usually decreased with the use of robot technology which leads to a quicker recovery time for the patient.

Every year the Cleveland Clinic names the top ten medical innovations, and surgical related technology innovations always make the list. Notably, the use of patient specific 3D printed devices like airway stents, cranial implants, and external prosthetics was recently ranked. These 3D printed devices are customized down to the millimeter for each individual patient. This decreases potential complications from devices that were once one-size-fits all. Other distinct surgical technology innovations recognized include the use of antibiotic-embedded envelopes for implantable devices to reduce infection risk and implantable pacemaker technology that connect to smartphones for monitoring and device setting adjustment.

What Types of Surgical Organizations Are There Where I Can Learn More About Surgeon Types, Their Training, Work And Duties?

The most prominent surgical organization is The American College of Surgeons (ACS). Their website has a wide variety of information and resources about surgery including an overview of the different surgical specialties, common surgical duties in providing patient care, information about residency training programs, peer-reviewed surgical research,  and the latest technology advances. A link to their website is found here: Each surgical subspecialty has an associated organization or society that provides information about the job duties, latest technological advances, and resources for the public. Some example organizations include:


Please check out our other popular articles about Medicine and medical specialties by clicking on the links below:


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Posted by Callie Torres

Callie Torres is a resident physician working at a top tier institute in the Midwest. She is a freelance health and medical writer as well as an author of many peer reviewed medical articles. She additionally serves as a Captain in the United States Air Force.

Topics: Feature Medical Practice

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