Risks of Surgery at a Teaching Hospital?

I have wanted to get an abdominoplasty for years, but as a single mother I've always had financial constraints that have prevented this. I was told that getting the surgery done at a teaching hospital could be a great lower cost option. I live an hour outside of NYC so I am close to a few very reputable institutions. But are there additional risks that I should be concerned with? Are patients who go this route generally happy with the results? Should I be wary about the lack of experience?

Doctor Answers 7

Surgery at a Teaching Hospital

I can appreciate you concern over cost containment and like you, I would also worry about the experience level of the surgeon at a teaching hospital. Unless you have reassurance by the staff surgeon that he would be doing the surgery himself, it is more than likely a resident in training would be doing the procedure. Many years ago when I was a resident, the teaching surgeon was supervising more than one room at a time.

Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Risks of palstic surgery at a teaching hospital

Having taught at a teaching hospital for 11 years and with all of us having trained at teaching hospitals, I can say that you will get a better result if you go to a top private practice surgeon with 15+ years of experience under his/her belt.  But for cost savings, you can consider a teaching hospital (NY has several excellent ones) and AS LONG as the attending surgeon (faculty member) is going to be physically present in the OR throughout your surgery, it can work out well.  If they are just going to bless the plan of the resident surgeon and go do something else during your surgery, the result will not be as reliable becasuse while well-intentioned, smart, young and energetic, residents are not experienced surgeons.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Surgery is surgery and cost should not be your primary concern. Think safety and experience.

Thank you for your question.  I recommend you contact those institutions directly and inquire about any type of programs that they may offer.  Get two or more opinions before proceeding. Be advised that any revisions that you may require may also be at your expense.  Ask about what the policy is for an unsatisfactory outcome.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 183 reviews

Tummy Tuck at a Teaching Institution

Teaching institutions are excellent places to have a procedure done.  Yes residents/ fellows perform the procedures but they are under the guidance of experienced surgeons. 

Tummy Tuck in Teaching Hospital?

Thank you for the question.

The short answer is: Yes,  you should be wary of lack of experience.  This would hold true for surgeons newly out of training as well.

If you do decide to have surgery at the teaching hospital,  you should get to know the residents and attending staff well and  request that the attending staff participate in the entire procedure. Make sure you see lots of examples of the attending staff's patients who have had similar procedures.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Saving on tummy tuck at a teaching hospital

Having worked and taught at two major teaching hospitals, participation by the teaching attending is the key. Reconstuctive problems always seem to be 'hands on' by the attending, though cosmetic cases are generally 'hands off' with the attending in another room. You might save at a teaching hospital depending on the cost basis for the room and anesthesia as well, and your resident might be a good one. Remember that your resident will move on after several months if you have problems.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Surgery cost

There is an old  saying , you get what you pay for. I suspect you are referring to having your surgery done by a resident who has not completed his/her training as contrasted with a board certified plastic surgeon in practice.

Jay M. Pensler, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 14 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.