Breast augmentation wanted. MD resident vs Plastic surgeon? Quality lost?

I was just wondering surgeons views on plastic surgery done by an MD resident versus a experienced plastic surgeon for breast implants. What exactly is the difference? In both approach to the procedure, price and most important the outcome of the surgery. Do resident programs offer before/after pictures like plastic surgeons do? I've just heard about residency programs and how they offer "discounted" procedures, but is it a good option to actually consider and look into?

Doctor Answers 10

Experience matters…

There is no doubt that a board-certified plastic surgeon will have a greater experience level than the plastic surgeon in training.  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.

Be very careful with your decision-making. 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 relevant Board of Plastic Surgery.
I would also suggest that you do not base your selection of plastic surgeon primarily on costs of surgery; keep in mind that revisionary surgery may be more costly in many ways. I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Breast augmentation wanted. MD resident vs Plastic surgeon? Quality lost?

First of all "MD residents" do not have a practice. They are surgeons in training, and I hope you mean plastic surgery training. Plastic surgery residency programs train surgeons in a supervised academic and hands on surgical experience with a well defined curriculum. Remember, these are not novice surgeons. The prerequisite used to be 5 years of general surgery, ENT, orthopedic or urology residencies. Now, there programs that are 6 years long, combining 3 years of general surgery with 3 years of plastic surgery. When a resident operates, there is a staff (fully trained and board certified) plastic surgeon assisting or guiding the operation. If money is an issue for you, you might want to call a few plastic surgery residency programs and ask if they offer a reduced fee for the surgery. Good luck.

George Marosan, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Breast augmentation

I appreciate your question.
Resident clinics are common and allow for training which is invaluable to our next generation surgeons.
They are typically overseen by a board certified plastic surgeon
The difference would be in the overall experience of the surgeon

The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative breast surgery.

best of luck!

Dr Schwartz

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Resident or experienced surgeon for breast augmentation?

Thank you for asking about your breast augmentation.

  • This is a good question - we'd all like to save money.
  • But surgery done by residents is done to train them. 
  • Results will be less predictable, advice less reliable and complications may be a bit higher.
  • If money is your #1 concern - choose the resident surgeon.
  • If quality of result is your #1 concern - choose a fully trained surgeon..
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Hope you found this answer helpful. Best wishes

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

MD resident vs. board-certified plastic surgeon

Hi, brittany13.  Thanks for your question.  Choosing a good plastic surgeon is very important.  Board-certified plastic surgeons do have more experience than the residents.  If you decide to have your surgery done by residents, please make sure that an attending surgeon is supervising the residents.  Best wishes.

Sugene Kim, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Breast augmentation performed by a trainee vs. a board-certified plastic surgeon. Is it as good?

Hello brittany13,
Thanks for your question.
As a board-certified plastic surgeon that actually completed an aesthetic surgery fellowship in which I ran my own resident's clinic, I have mixed views.  As with all surgery, the more times you have performed a particular operation, the better the chances everything will turn out just fine.  A surgery is more than just the procedure itself.  The surgeon is the leader of the OR.  In the end, all responsibility falls on their shoulders.  The experience of performing my own breast augmentations on my own patients was invaluable, but I knew that if I got in a jam, one of my board-certified plastic surgery attendings was available to help me out.  Once you are in your own practice, this is not always the case.  Because of this, you grow quickly as a surgeon.
Before and After pics will be available at resident clinics, but will not be as plentiful or show as wide a variety of clinical situations as would be seen at an experienced plastic surgeon's office.  
As far as discounts go, the resident clinic can't be beat.  Resident's don't get paid by the fees the patient's pay to have their cosmetic surgery.  That money pays the hospital and anesthesia staff.  This keeps your costs low.  Even as a resident, I had very happy cosmetic surgery patients.  Most residency programs that have staffed resident clinics, have happy patients.  It is a good option for patients on a budget.
Good luck,
Dr. Shah

Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

MD resident or plastic surgeon?

This question helps me to look back upon my own residency experience with fondness. There is no doubt that a plastic surgery resident coming out of an accredited training program in the U.S. is very competent to perform all procedures as they relate to the field of plastic surgery. The entire surgical training is designed so that the surgeon can make independent, thoughtful, and safe operative decisions for their patients. This comes with training, exposure and practice. Six to seven years of surgical training is a long time but most resident only get exposure to cosmetic surgery in the last 2 years of their training. So in this regard a practicing plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic surgery will have much more invaluable experiences than a resident. Those experiences help to achieve a higher level of patient satisfaction and decrease the rate of complication. There is another small factor for you to be mindful. You will not be able to see the same resident surgeon once they graduate unless you want to follow them into their private practice. The resident surgeon usually does the cosmetic procedures in the last year of training. However, if budget is an issue, you won't find a better deal.

Good luck.

Dr. Vu

Steve T. Vu, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Resident surgeon vs plastic surgeon.


Thanks for posting your question. I am happy to try and help you. It is important to remember that a board certified plastic surgeon will be your best resource when it comes to an accurate assessment of your situation, and concerns.

Having said that, you can roll the dice with the resident or a board certified PS. Look at their results. If the resident has lots of talent and you are not the first then you may be ok. If you are asking about a 20 year PS vs a 2 month resident? What do you think?

I hope you found this helpful. A Have a great day.

Michael J. Brown, MD
Ashburn Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

When residents do your procedure

you are getting considerable variability in the judgment and experience of the surgeon and in their supervision.  We all were residents once so if the revision policy is reasonable where costs are minimal for that, it seems to be acceptable to use then if the costs are much less than seeing a boarded-certified plastic surgeon.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Breast augmentation wanted. MD resident vs Plastic surgeon?

You might get a very nice result, or maybe not. Surgery by a resident who has done 5 or 10 augments may not be the same as surgery by someone who does the operation 3-5 times a week for years. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 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.