Thoughts About Having Cosmetic Surgery (Face Lift) at a Residency Program?

Thoughts About Having Cosmetic Surgery (Face Lift) at a Residency Program?

Doctor Answers 21

Should you have cosmetic surgery at a residency program?

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Should you have cosmetic surgery at a residency program? This is a great question. The answer depends upon the surgery you choose and who will be performing your surgery. At most university hospitals, you can choose a board-certified attending plastic surgeon to perform your procedure. This is the person who trains the residents and fellows. If you choose to have cosmetic surgery with an attending surgeon at an academic hospital, you should ask who will be performing your surgery. Resident and fellows will likely "assist" their attending during surgery with retraction, etc. Different surgeons will have different levels of comfort with having residents or fellows do more than just assist. If you do not want a resident or fellow performing cosmetic surgery for you and want them only to help the surgeon you should clearly state this. If your surgeon agrees to this, you trust them and they've demonstrated great results with pre- and post-surgery photos, then you can proceed with confidence.

Thank you for your question.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS


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Generally, you get what you pay for. If you have your procedure done within the confines of a residency program, you definitely need to ask questions about how much of the procedure will be done by whom, and how much supervision will be given during your surgery.

-Dr. Jamil Asaria

Jamil Asaria, MD
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 135 reviews

How important is it to have the best facelift possible?

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Dear Maggiev:

You have to be realistic. 

As you know, the reason why people have a cosmetic surgery facelift in a residency program is because generally there are financial considerations.  Having it done by a professor is one thing, but if it is going to be done by a resident or fellow is another.  Of course, this is how we all developed our skill and experience, but… and it is a big “but”… our patients understood that their surgery was being done by a novice and not by a fully qualified specialist.  If you are comfortable with that, fine.  You intuitively realize that the chance of having a superior result with an inexperienced plastic surgeon is not as great as having it with a surgeon with long experience and a high degree of specialization. 

That said, if your budget is such that you cannot afford the private practitioner, then it is appropriate to consider having it at the residency program with the surgery being done by the surgeons-in-training. 

Robert Kotler, MD, FACS
Facial Plastic Surgeon

Robert Kotler, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Residency Program Surgery

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I would imagine that every plastic surgeon who answered your question performed some type of cosmetic surgery as a resident in a "resident cosmetic clinic."  I know that I did several facelifts in my cosmetic clinic when I was training.  One was actually a re-do from another local area doctor who just didn’t get it right the first time which shows that being older isn’t necessarily always better. 
While I agree that experience is lacking in a training program good results are the norm.  During my time as a resident I actually reviewed the entire history of our cosmetic program and the complication rate was no more than you would expect from any plastic surgeon. 
That said your face is a precious commodity and I would recommend that if you have visited with a resident clinic that you also visit with at least 3 other more experienced board certified plastic surgeons in your area.  I would think less about the price, and more about the experience and feeling you get with each surgeon.  If the resident is the best one, then perhaps he/she is on their way to being the best facelift surgeon in the US and you were just a step along the way, if not then move on to a more experienced surgeon and go from there. 
Best of luck. Dr. Kerr

Thoughts About Having Cosmetic Surgery (Face Lift) at a Residency Program?

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Although I understand that plastic surgeons, including myself, need to train somewhere, I would suggest that you do not make yourself a “subject” for breast augmentation surgery. Ultimately, you should keep the final goal in mind; achieving the results you wish with breast surgery as safely and complication free as possible.
I would suggest, instead that you slowly save up for this elective procedure. When the time is right from the physical, emotional, psychosocial, and financial standpoints, find the best plastic surgeon you can to perform the procedure for you.
When it comes to choosing a plastic surgeon I generally advise that patients start with the American 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.
Make your decisions carefully when it comes to selection of your plastic surgeon; although no surgeon is perfect and every plastic surgeon has complications that require revisionary surgery, revisionary surgery rates may vary from one surgeon to another. Also, remember that if revisionary surgery does become necessary, it may be more expensive in many ways. Therefore, do not to make your decisions based on financial considerations primarily.
I hope this helps.

Facelift at a Residency Program

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  You will need an insider at the program to give you some insight.  There are great surgeons with great judgement and wisdom beyond their years in residency and fellowship programs throughout the US.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Face lift by resident

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As you may imagine it will be a bit of a gamble.  If you are a good candidate for surgery (healthy skin, good bone structure) and if you are lucky with the resident or fellow you get assigned to, then the results can be nice at a fraction of the cost you would have spent on an experienced surgeon.  

The patient in the link below was done by me during my residency, in fact the very first face lift I did on my own, and she had a decent result.  Good luck!

Thoughts About Having Cosmetic Surgery (Face Lift) at a Residency Program?

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  I was the director of Facial Plastic Surgery for a major medical school for about 10 years and the comment about "cosmetic surgeons" is misleading at best and quite self serving IMHO.  Regardless of the type of residency program a Face Lift performed by a resident surgeon (I personally did 40 Face Lifts and 100 Rhinoplasties as a resident surgeon before continuing my training during two fellowships in the field) are still a quantum level less sophisticated than what you'll get from an experienced Face Lift surgeon.  

  If after weighing this and all the other factors, you feel the relative risk is what you're willing to deal with...then have your Face Lift there.  It goes back to the old saying that "you get what you pay for".  There are many ways to perform a Face Lift and IMO, the aesthetic judgement and experience of the plastic and cosmetic surgeon is what you, as the consumer, are really paying for.  An inexperienced surgeon may not have developed the proper aesthetics of facial beauty and without that any technique is incapable, IMO, of providing inspired, naturally beautiful results.  Hope this helps.

Resident cases

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Thank you for the question. Plastic surgery residents are surgeons prior to residency (unlike so called "cosmetic surgeons" who do a weekend course to learn about procedures and never actually train). Just as in practice, there are talented residents and there are average residents. Since they are actually assisting an attending surgeon, just find out who that person is and you will be safe.

Facelift at a residency cosmetic clinic

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It really depends on where you go and who you see.

I have been a faculty member at an institution that has a teaching program.  I also have my own separate cosmetic plastic surgery practice.

The honest answer is this:  Just like not all doctors are the same, not all residents are the same either.  There are some physicians-in-training that are more advanced and skilled for their level than others. You want to get someone good.  Don't just take the luck-of-the-draw.

If you are going to go this route, then I recommend you do some serious homework and find out who is good and who is not as far along in perfecting the artisitic nature of plastic surgery.  If you don't have any say in picking which resident physician you are going to see, I'd reconsider.

I hope this helps.

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.