Resident from big hospital program okay to perform Tummy tuck?

Big hospital (Baylor) has a residency program where residents perform plastic surgery. Would it be wise (and safe) to get a tummy tuck there instead of using a board certified plastic surgeon in town? I realize everyone needs training and practice...not sure I am willing to be a Guinea pig but I am looking into several options.

Doctor Answers 6

Resident surgery

Hi thanks for your question. A resident, especially a chief resident (a high talent  position) may be very experienced in performing or assisting on multiple types of cosmetic patients. They are supervised by an attending physician. Your comfort level with situation will help with your choice. 

Results may vary

There is a huge difference in training programs and the way that they operate (literally). You cannot judge based on the big name of the institution alone. Some attending surgeons are very 'hands on' and are at the surgery every minute and make the result as excellent as their own, and other attending surgeons may be in the operating room but not actually operating just supervising. I agree with the comment that you should speak directly to the program chairman but that's not good enough. You might have to speak with the actual attending helping the residents doing the surgery. Just remember, sometimes you get what you pay for.

Leland Deane, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Resident from big hospital program okay to perform Tummy tuck?

Thank you for the question.    I  caution you  to be careful about choosing your plastic surgeon; the decision you make will be the most important decision you make it comes to safety/outcome of the planned procedure.     The fact that you are asking the question, suggests that you understand that there is a difference in experience and potential end results achieved by physicians in training. The difference between a physician in training versus a physician who has been in practice for many years comes down to a track record.
If a plastic surgeon can show you specific experience with  successful outcome of surgery you will have some peace of mind that he/she can achieve the results you're looking for. The physician in training generally does not have this track history. On the other hand, there are physicians who have been in practice for many years who do “sloppy” work. My best suggestion for patients who are interested in the highest quality results would have to be: save your money and find the best plastic surgeon available to do your procedure. Best wishes.

Plastic Surgery Resident

Meet with the Plastic Surgeon in charge of the residency program prior to surgery to answer your questions.  We got excellent results from my residency program.  

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Plastic surgery residency clinic

Great question.  All plastic surgery residency clinics should be supervised by a trained plastic surgeon.  It depends however on each resident and on the supervising attending (plastic surgeon).  We got some great results during my residency clinic.  Some of that was me and some of that was my attending.  I know that on my own I would not have been able to achieve the results that I did.  The difficulty comes in not being able to judge the resident that you will be getting.  Perhaps ask which attending would be overseeing the surgery and then also look that plastic surgeon up.  When it comes down to it it will be a personal choice based on financial investment, comfort level, and gut feeling.
Good luck with your tummy tuck journey.
Dr. Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 153 reviews

Resident Cosmetic Clinic

Many plastic surgery programs have a clinic where the residents perform deeply discounted surgery in exchange for the ability to learn how to do cosmetic cases.  I trained in a program like this and by the time i finished my plastic surgery training I had performed dozens of surgeries.  These programs can be very helpful for patients who just cant afford to pay or borrow enough to see a board certified plastic surgeon.
There are a few things to look for in a program like this:

  • Have you met and spoken with the resident who will be operating on you
  • Is there an attending surgeon ( a fully board certified plastic surgeon) who will be in attendance and supervising your surgery
  • What is the policy for revisions or follow-up surgery if needed

Overall, this can be a good way to obtain a reasonable surgery at a reasonable cost.  As long as you know that the quality of the result will be less than you would obtain from an experienced surgeon it can be a "win -win" for both the patient and the residents.

Samuel Beran, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

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.