Plastic Surgeon Vs. Cosmetic Surgeon with Excellent Credentials for Abdomen Lipo

I have an appointment for abdomenal lipo with reputable derma-cosmetic surgeon who's done "hundreds" of lipos. Credentials are excellent, he teaches at prestigious medschool, and his photos show good work. After reading about plastic vs cosmetic surgeons, I'm having doubts. I'm 5'4", smallboned, and 109 lbs. This doctor does lipo in office with local anesthesia and valium. The cost for stomach and sides is $2500. Will cosmetic surgeons perform the same lipo as plastic surgeons? I understand the difference in training, but are the procedures different? He performs tumescent lipo, I think. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Doctor Answers 12

Plastic Surgeon vs. Cosmetic Surgeon

For the public and the consumer, being board certified as a plastic surgeon is the single best guide to the selection of a qualified plastic surgeon. Each board certified plastic surgeon goes through rigorous training, multiple exams and often ends up being in his or her early to mid thirties before starting their plastic surgery practice. As you're probably aware, there are currently many "wannabe" plastic surgeons: everyone from the family practice physician to the OG-GYN is providing laser treatments and "cosmetic procedures." When I am evaluating a patient for surgery, I almost always refer the patient to their family physician or internist for his or her medical evaluation of the patient's overall health before undergoing surgery. While it is certainly true I could make this determination without their input, I value their opinion of the patient's health. In the same manner, though I could probably successfully treat someone's hypertension, I am obviously not as qualified or adept at this as that person's internist of family physician. This brings the point home of always considering who might have the most expertise for your own personal medical treatment—whether it's for your blood pressure or your wrinkles. Board certified plastic surgeons remain the gold standard not only for cosmetic procedures but also reconstructive procedures.

Huntsville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon for liposuction - buyer beware

Plastic surgeons train in surgery and surgical complications for 5-10 years after medical school.

Cosmetic surgeon is not a specific term.  A pathologist, pediatrician or dentist with absolutely no training in any cosmetic surgery can become a "cosmetic surgeon".

I received a letter this week from the American Board of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, based in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The only requirement for admission to this "prestigious society" is $300.  Or $500 if you want to become a Fellow of the American College of Plastic Surgeons and use the letters "F.A.C.P.S.".  Remarkably similar to the F.A.C.S. it took me ten years of grueling surgical training after medical school to attain, all for $500.  Consumers are so confused, who knows the difference?  I'm confused myself... at why the Medical Board allows such a fraudulent organization to operate.

Many doctors will tout tumescent liposuction as being superior to other methods, and safer because general anesthesia is not required.

Everybody uses tumescent anesthesia.  Nobody has a "corner on the market" on dilute local anesthesia, which is all it is.  Most surgeons do small or medium cases with tumescent anesthesia alone.  With the larger cases involving the whole body, which plastic surgeons tend to perform, who wants to feel needles in your entire body for six hours?  That is why an anesthesiologist is present to give sedation or a light general anesthetic for many patients. 

The absolutely worst results I have ever seen have been with very large cases performed strictly with tumescent anesthesia, where the massive swelling caused by the local anesthesia made the doctor unable to tell how much fat to remove.  The resultant irregularities were unfixable.

Before deciding on where to get liposuction, investigate the background and credentials of your doctor carefully. 

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Plastic surgeon, dermatologist and liposuction

Your best bet is to check with a major hospital near you and see who has privileges to do the type of surgery there and stick with that person. If problems occur, and they do no matter whether it is surgery or not, you would want someone that is familiar with how to treat them. Also, you would want a doctor who is trained in surgery to do your surgery.

Edward J. Domanskis, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Training and experience for liposuction

I am a board certified plastic surgeon, but I will answer your question honestly and without bias.

Liposuction was initially developed by a French gynecologist in the late 1970s.  Since the technique was sound and effective, it "took off".  Liposuction can be performed by any specialty which involves surgical training.

Liposuction, compared to other procedures performed by plastic surgeons, is technically relatively simple.  However, this still means you should go to someone who is experienced, safe, and does quality work. I would also check the doctor for any disciplinary action by visiting the medical board of your state and searching the doctor's name.

Liposuction can be performed under local with oral sedation.  However, I make sure the patient has no medical issues or all medical issues are well-controlled. I also do not recommend removing more than 5000cc (1.3 gallon) of fat and fluid at one time, as it increases risk of post-operative complications.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Board Certfied Plastic Surgeons

This is a difficult question to answer, but it all comes down to training and continued evaluation throughout the surgeons lifetime of practice.  Plastic surgeons are trained from the very beginning in these types of procedures.  The residency is anywhere form 5-7 years, often with additional fellowships after that.  Once they are board certified, they must re-certify every ten years, with safety checks every three years to ensure that they are remaining current and ethical.  Any dermatologist or family practitioner can learn to do liposuction, but how many of them have dealt with all the issues related to the procedure - results, complications etc. on a daily basis since the beginning of their training?

Christopher V. Pelletiere, MD
Barrington Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Liposuction can be done by plastic surgeons and dermatologists

Safety of liposuction increased significantly when tumescent liposuction was invented. Before then, bleeding was of a bigger concern and since its evolution, thousands of cases of in-office tumescent liposuction have been perfomed with an excellent safety record.  Tumescent liposuction was invented by Dr. Jeffrey Klein, who is a dermatologist! Experience is very important as well as word-of-mouth referrrals from other patients of the doctor and possibly your physicians who may know of this liposuction doctor that you're considering.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

A General Plastic Surgeon is NO Board Certified Dermatologist When It Comes To Great Tumescent Liposuction Results!!!

Reports have shown that over 80% of the malpractice lawsuits from bad liposuctions  occur to a group who keeps screaming about their board certification in one specialty as their main or only qualification while performing less than 25% of the liposuctions in this country.  That same group also has the highest death or complication rate for liposuction as well possibly due a lot in part to the out-dated general anesthesia they still use.  Who would you go to? 

The gold standard is using tumescent local anesthesia with small canulas (not general anesthesia nor big canulas which require stitches).  Any doc who does liposuctions should be board certified in some specialty, use an accredited operating room facility, have yrs of experience in liposuctions and keeps up with the newest techniques in liposuction and who you feel comfortable with.  Docs in all specialties can do great liposuctions.  The hard part is sorting through the BS.  I don't want to put down any specialty nor promote any specialty as superior to another in general.  That is not what this forum is for.  I hope I have helped you in some way.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Plastic surgeon best for liposuction.


You want to let a doctor do a procedure such as liposuction on you in his office ONLY if he or she has privileges to do the same procedure at a good local hospital.  If the hospital won't let her or him do liposuction, would you?

A great dermatologist does not mean a great plastic surgeon.  Liposuction is real surgery with possible complications.  Training and the details of technique make all the difference.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

What Kind of Doctor sHOULD I ENTRUST my Life and Body To

There are outstanding Family Practice physicians out there who could set fractures, deliver babies and remove ruptured appendices. However, their current residency training of three years even when coupled with a few years of "life" experience does not come close to the judgment and skills possessed by an Orthopedic surgeon's fracture experience, a Obstetrician's high risk pregnancy experience or a General Surgeon's considerable familiarity with the abdomen.

In an age when information doubles in less than three years, it is hard to recommend the services of non-specialists when we are surrounded by so many better prepared, better trained and more experienced specialists.

While hard to comprehend by non-surgeons, to be a good surgeon requires being a good physician AND a good technician. While the mere performance of an operation can be taught to a gifted student in a short time, the reasoning, the calculation, the planning, the judgment that go into the operation and the learning of how to avoid the pit falls and risks during and after surgery requires years of training. That is why training in Plastic surgery is among the longest trainings in American Medicine.

I would NOT send a member of my family to a physician who is not certified by an American Board of Medical Specialties ( board regardless of their website, testimonials (real or fake) and appearance.

Just as I believe that Neurologists and Neurosurgeons should be managing neurological diseases, Gynecologists should be treating women's health issues and Orthopedic surgeons would be best at treating bone and joint issues, I KNOW that for best results you should see a surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery - a ABMS member board REGARDLESS if he/she calls himself/herself a Plastic or Cosmetic surgeon.

Since ALL members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS ARE certified by this board among their other required qualifications for membership, ALL you have to do is start your research with surgeons listed on that web site.

You will NOT regret it.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Plastic Surgeon vs. Cosmetic Surgeon

Very tough question to answer. It is a leap of faith question. Go see both at least 2 times and have a list of questions and concerns to discuss with each. Than compare and go with the doc you feel most comfortable with. Good Luck

From MIAMI Dr. B

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 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.