Some artists work with clay, some with paint and some even with … flesh. Here’s the skinny on a day in the life of a plastic surgeon.

Name: Dr. Steven Bloch

Age: 52

Occupation: Plastic surgeon

Company: Private practice in Highland Park, Ill.

Salary: Plastic surgeons make from $250,000 to several million a year.

As a plastic surgeon in private practice in Highland Park, Ill., Dr. Steven Bloch spends five days a week reshaping the faces and figures of the world, both famous and not-so-famous. And he doesn’t mind giving Bankrate.com readers a peek at the man behind the surgeon’s mask

“I don’t think anyone on the planet is truly happy with their body,” Bloch says. In a world where Pamela Anderson Lee has her breasts enlarged and reduced like helium balloons and even regular Joes and Janes get face-lifts and liposuction, the doctor is very popular indeed.

He’s got his work cut out for him

His day starts at the hospital at 8 a.m. Bloch makes his rounds to examine the previous day’s patients to check that their incisions are healing.

Then it’s time to scrub for surgery. Bloch says he performs two surgeries a day, including facelifts, nose jobs, body contouring and breast augmentation. “The entire world wants a six-pack,” Bloch says of many patients’ desire to have rippling abdominal muscles.

His surgeries are complete by about 1 p.m., and he heads to his office to see patients until 6 p.m. “It’s a busy day,” Bloch admits. He spends 30-45 minutes consulting with new patients and defining their dreams. Bloch says he turns away about 20 percent of his would-be patients. “Some things cannot be technically achieved. Some people are unrealistic about what can and can’t be done,” he says.

Bloch also sees patients who’ve undergone his handiwork and examines their healing. “What’s nice is to take off the bandages and you can see your work and everybody’s happy,” he says. “You know when it’s good.”

But the ability to make it ‘good’ takes years of hard work and refining skills. Plus, Bloch says, it takes a hint of an artistic touch. “It (plastic surgery) is the only field in medicine where art truly helps.”

Bloch’s artistic skills were recognized at a young age. “I was always good at art and school,” he explains. As a kid, he thought he wanted to be an architect, but he became fascinated by how plastic surgery can turn ordinary faces and bodies into original masterpieces.

Grunge behind the glamour

Bloch first clocked four years of undergraduate study with a degree in psychology. “There are a few core classes you have to take to be accepted into medical school, but they (medical schools) like students to be more well-rounded,” he explains. “You can be an English major, and if you take the core classes, you can apply.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Bloch attended four years of medical school, spent a year in an internship and then spent nearly five years as a general surgeon. He says plastic surgery is one of the most difficult fields of medicine to pursue. “All plastic surgeons have to first work in general surgery (removing gall bladders and appendixes). But general surgery had a lot of smelly things,” he quips. “Plastic surgery is a very clean surgery. And you’re usually dealing with younger people who are in good health.”

Bloch worked as a plastic surgeon at another doctor’s practice before hanging his own shingle 20 years ago, and he’s been on his own ever since. Bloch’s suburban Chicago office sees a lot of business, from ordinary folks to members of the Saudi royal family and several celebrity patients that the doctor discreetly declines to name.

In addition, Bloch has appeared on Oprah and has filmed his surgeries for the Discovery Channel. “I am very comfortable with the media,” Bloch says. He has also hosted chats about plastic surgery on America Online to answer people’s questions about his work.