Who is more qualified to do my liposuction: dermatologic surgeon or plastic surgeon?

I had a consult with a plastic surgeon and a dermotologist and they both claim to be liposuction specialists.The dermotologist said when they perform the procedure its safer and they pioneered the procedure?The plastic surgeon said only plastic surgeons are qualified. Whose right and what gives?

Doctor Answers 14

Dermatologist vs plastic surgeon

My patients appreciate our ability to tell them when liposuction is best, and when lifts are best (i.e. tummy tucks).

Since we perform many of each, we have no stake in which procedure is performed other than what is best for the patient.

Patients should always have the confidence when talking to their doctor that he is properly counseling them on the correct options of the procedures, not pushing one procedure or another.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Plastic Surgeon vs. Dermatologist for liposuction

While I would be the first to admit my opinion is biased because I'm a board certified plastic surgeon and have done thousands of lipo cases, and recognizing that some dermatologists and some ENT specialists and some oculoplastic surgeons have also had some lipo experience, it is my opinion that as a general rule the American Board of Plastic Surgery board certified surgeon is your best choice.

Deason Dunagan, MD
Huntsville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

The results are what matter

Why bother if both can give you the results you want. I think you need to focus on what you want rather than on a history question. There is no doubt that dermatologist contributed to liposuction procedure. There qualified dermatologist just as much there qualified plastic surgeons.  I say go with whoever you feel comfortable with.

Moneer Jaibaji, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Both Dermatologic Surgeons and Plastic Surgeons are Qualified to perform Liposuction.

Both Dermatologic Surgeons and plastic surgeons are qualified to do liposuction procedures and both can do a good job but who will do a better job for you needs other factors to be considered. Anyone who spends the major part of their practice on liposuctions will as a general rule have more experience and expertise in the latest techniques that give the best results. It is true that Dermatologic Surgeons invented the Tumescent Technique of Liposuction and uses the Micro Canulas to give the smoothest results.  Plastic surgeons who use this method can also be good as well at liposuctions.  Even if someone uses a different method and does that technique alot with good results, they can be good at liposuction.  Both docs are going to be board certified in their basic specialties so saying that only a board certified plastic surgeon or Board Certified Dermatologist are the best for liposuction, doesn't give much credentials for liposuction if that is their ONLY claim to fame or bragging rights. You also need to have a good repoire with your doc, see a lot of great before and after photos, and above all feel comfortable in that your doc will be there for you the whole way through your experience.  Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD


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

Who is more qualified to do Liposuction: A Plastic Surgeon or a Dermatological "surgeon".

According to the American Board of Medical Specialty the only "plastic surgeons" are those that are Boarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Anyone can call themeslves a plastic surgeon, cosmetic surgeon, or dermatological surgeon but none other than a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon has had the debth of surgical knowledge to perform cosmetic surgery on a patient, other than a Board certified plastic surgeon.

Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Liposuction by plastic surgeons and dermatologic surgeons

Both specialties have liposuction as a procedure that is in the curriculum for training in residency.  There are many physicians of both specialties that have performed this procedure safely and with great results.  You need to see an experienced physician with whom you have a good rapport and who has a good reputation in your community.

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

Dermatologist compared to plastic surgeon in liposuction

As a fully trained plastic surgeon I am obviously biased, but I happened to be involved in the original presentation of liposuction in the US in 1983 by a French surgeon (not a plastic surgeon by US standards but not a dermatologist either). I also saw the first uses of tumescent injection (actually anesthesia) technique which was developed by dermatologists for reasons I got in trouble for mentioning when I presented my first 100 cases of liposuction done under local anesthesia to plastic surgeons at a national meeting back in the early '90's. There are a lot of misconceptions and "turf battles" with liposuction. You don't see too many "dermatologic surgeons" doing breast augmentation...

I can say several things with another couple of decades of experience and perspective. 

"Tumescent liposuction" is a misnomer. Tumescent technique involves anesthesia for the area treated with liposuction and avoiding blood loss during the suction. The actual liposuction is a separate issue. Tumescent injection allows liposuction to be done under local anesthesia and without significant blood loss such that large volumes and multiple areas can be done with much less risk and effect on the patient than under general anesthesia with significant blood loss. 

Dermatologists are not surgeons. They aren't trained, experienced, or even think like surgeons. Liposuction, although considered a surgical procedure, actually works without cutting anything (other than a small puncture incision) and is easy enough to do without much surgical experience or expertise. Since it can be done in the office and outside the requirements of privileges for procedures done in the hospital, it is not possible for plastic surgeons to have exclusive rights over it and many non-plastic surgeons and even non-surgeons can do liposuction with reasonable results. 

What plastic surgeons can offer beyond just experience with liposuction is the overall evaluation of the patient, other surgical options, how to carry out liposuction safely from a surgical perspective, and also how to avoid and manage any complications or problems that might occur. Plastic surgeons aren't immune from hype but they tend to be more realistic about costs/risks/benefits from high tech or wishful thinking type liposuction techniques such as laser-assisted, ultrasonic, external, or injection types. A very experienced dermatologist doing liposuction for years might be better than a young and poorly trained plastic surgeon, but the odds are much more in favor of the plastic surgeon even in "easy" surgery like liposuction.

Scott L. Replogle, MD
Boulder Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review


The unique advantage that a plastic surgeon has is that they can perform all body contouring procedures and thereof can offer all of the options that a patient could need. If you can only perform liposuction then a dermatologist may try to get all patients to have that procedure when many might be best served by and abdominoplasy

David L. Abramson, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Who is more qualified to do my liposuction: dermatologic surgeon or plastic surgeon?

As you see each specialists thinks they are the more qualified from reading the previous responses. I look at this simply, which specialists can decide and preform the "correct" surgical option for you? Whether it is only liposuction or an excisional procedure (like a mini tummy tuck), or both! You guess it -- the boarded PLASTIC SURGEON. Just saw a 2 year post liposuction of the abdomen done by a non surgeon. The problem, hanging wrinkled lower abdominal skin. She was never a candidate for lipo alone, but the specialists "thought" (did not have experience enough to say no), the Lipo would work. Hope you got my point. 

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

Liposuction is surgery

There is a lot of misinformation out there about liposuction but the important thing to keep in mind is that it is surgery. Even though the skin incisions are tiny, the volume of tissue affected can be large, just like any other surgical procedure. When people emphasize the safety of tumescent technique, which is popular among dermatologists, they compare to old data about general anesthesia. However, most procedures are probably done with monitored intravenous sedation and some version of tumescent, so it's a false argument. What's more, there is the potential for lidocaine toxicity when trying to do too much under tumescent so the safety question ultimately comes down to the judgment of the surgeon and whether or not the procedure is being done in anaccredited surgical facility.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 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.