Calf/Ankle Liposuction, Which Type of Board Certified Surgeon Should I See?

Hi all. I am considering lower leg (calf/ankle) liposuction. I have very toned muscles, but thick fat on my calves that just will not go away. My legs look ripply and bulgy. I saw a doctor today who said I'm a great candidate, however he is not a Certified Plastic Surgeon. He is a Certified Dermatological Surgeon. This worries me, despite his focus on liposuction and claimed "world-famous" reputation and 15 years. I have read a lot of reviews, but am not sure what to do. Would love your help!

Doctor Answers 11

Dermatologic surgeons can perform this surgery

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It is not really important whether they are a plastic surgeon or dermatologic surgeon, but how much experience they have - especially as the areas you are interested in are not the most common so require extra expertise.

San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Which type of surgeon should you see for calf lipo

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Hello, this is a very interesting question that can cause some debate. In my opinion, the surgeon that has more experience with it may perform well. Liposuction is being performed by multiple different types of doctors across the board. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is a gold standard ABMS board. Board certified Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are qualified specifically for liposuction as well as other cosmetic procedures and in totally within the scope of ones training in a recognized residency program in the United States. Thanks for the question.

Rikesh T. Parikh, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon

Finding Plastic Surgeon?

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It will be up to you to do your due diligence in the process of plastic surgeon selection. I would suggest starting with the American Society of Plastic Surgery and/or the Aesthetic Society of Plastic Surgery to obtain a list of well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.

Then, I would suggest you visit a few surgeons whose practices  concentrate on aesthetic surgery. Ask  to see lots of examples of their work and preferably speak/see patients who have had similar procedures done.

You will find,  while doing your due diligence,  that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you;  again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  

I hope this helps.

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Calf/ankle liposuction requires an experienced surgeon

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Hi MackieK2, the specialty of the surgeon is not that important. Many different surgical specialties are trained in liposuction. It was a dermatologic surgeon who invented the technique of doing liposuction with local anesthesia, avoiding the need for general anesthesia. The most important factor is the experience of the surgeon. The calf/ankle area is a very difficult area to suction and requires great skill. The healing of the lower leg is much more difficult and prolonged than lipo anywhere else on the body.

Because of that, this is an area that should only be suctioned under ideal circumstances and being sure that you're a great candidate. I'm not sure that looking at your photos that I would say you're a great candidate.

Your lower leg is in proportion to your thighs, and you may be someone with large muscle mass that gives your thighs and lower legs a very full appearance. Also, your calves taper to much smaller ankles which shows a nice relative proportion between the calves and ankles. Being certain that you're at your ideal weight is also very important before undertaking liposuction on the lower legs, even more so than with other parts of the body.

Finally, the best way to tell how much fat is actually present on the lower legs is to stand on tip-toe to actively contract your lower leg muscles. By tightening them, you can get a much better sense of exactly how much softer fat is present  compared with the firmer feeling muscle.

Good luck!

Kimberly Finder, MD
San Antonio Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Board certified surgeon for liposuction

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In all professions, the person who performs a procedure the most is usually the most consistent with his results. Plastic surgeons train specifically to perform liposuction. I recommend a plastic surgeon certified by the american board of plastic surgery. Dr. Day's response is very misleading-plastic surgeons do not always put their patients to sleep to perform liposuction-they frequently perform local and sedation procedures. The dermatologists do not have privledges at hospitals to put their patients to sleep so by necessity they avoid all large procedures that require general anesthesia. This does not make them the better choice, this makes them the less experienced choice.

I hope this helps.


Daniel A. Medalie, MD

Los Angeles board certified plastic surgeon

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The areas of concern are  difficult to treat and should be performed by a physician who has experience with all aspects of the anatomy in the area you are interested in. Liposuction not only involves removing fat from these areas, but how it interplays with the rest of your extremity and other localized anatomic structures. Surgeons who are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have been through an extensive ceritfication process in which their skills, diligence, competence, and responsibility in the their areas of specialty have been tested and compared to others not only through examination, but years of surgical experience. The majority of such surgeons have not only trained in plastic surgery,  but also completed a general surgery residency. 

Jeffrey D. Hoefflin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Both general plastic surgeons and dermatologic surgeons can do liposuction of the calves and ankles.

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Calves and ankles liposuction takes a lot of finesse which the derm surgeons tend to have a lot of training in use of the micro canulas under local anesthesia which gives the best results.  Derm surgeons invented this technique and have advanced it more than all other specialties combined.  Both derm surgeons and plastic surgeons can do the job if they have a lot of experience doing liposuction. Get a few consults and see who you feel most comfortable with. Expect to pay roughly $5000 for quality work.   Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

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No question about it; a board certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the person for the job.  The areas that you want altered are difficult and need great skill and care.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Dermatological or Plastic Surgical Liposuction

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You have asked a very good question. The main difference is in whether you want to go into a hospital and/or be put to sleep (plastic surgery) or the alternative is to have just the area to be worked on be numbed and you would be given something to keep you calm (dermatologic surgery).

The safest way is to have tumescent anesthesia where the numbing fluid is put in just the area to be worked on. By avoiding general anesthesia (being put to sleep) you avoid the biggest complication which is blood clots that might go to your lungs.

Most Plastic Surgeons are trained to do the procedure using general anesthesia and Dermatologic Surgeons are trained to do the procedure under tumescent anesthesia. Liposuction dot com can tell you more but as long as you see someone who has sufficient experience, you should get good results.

T. Wayne Day, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon


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Both Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons perform this procedure and you can get good results with either. Calf and ankle liposuction is an area that is more difficult to get satisfactory results. It is not possible to assess you properly simply by a photo. I whole heartedly agree with Dr.Beraka.  Plastic Surgeons are trained to do liposuction with patients awake and under a general anesthetic and Dr. Day is incorrect.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.