Okay for a General Surgeon to Perform Tummy Tuck?

Is it okay to have a Tummy Tuck done by a general surgeon during abdominal hernia repair? Is it also healthy to perform this procedure on a 65 year old woman who has had previous hernia repair and had complications healing from it? From the first hernia repair, she had an open wound from 2001 till 2008 which over the years would sometimes get infection to where she had to take antibiotics through an IV.

Doctor Answers 22

Why would he do it?

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If you live in a small town in which there are no board certified plastic surgeons, then it might be appropriate., certainly better than going to a dermatologist, otolaryngologist, or any other physician untrained in plastic surgery yet willing to give it a try.

Afterall, in underserved communities family practice doctors deliver babies, set fractures, and treat heart patients. But in modern, first-world communities, orthopedic surgeons fix the fractures, obstetricians deliver the babies, pediatricians treat the chidren, and cardiologists treat the heart problems.

So a general surgeon should technically be able to carry out the procedure, but without the care and understanding of nuance, aesthetics, modern techniques, and assessing the aesthetics of the entire trunk.

So, if you live in an underserved medical community, go to the general surgeon. If you live in a modern city, go a plastic surgeon, but just for fun, ask yourself why a general surgeon in a big city would dabble with something over their head. Does that worry you about his or her character? It should.

And when I say "plastic surgeon," let me be more specific. Anyone can call themselves a plastic surgeon, including your general surgery friend. But only someone certified by "The American Board of Plastic Surgery" is considered a bonafide plastic surgeon, and that is the qualification upon what you must insist. And if you want to take it to an even higher level, be sure that the surgeon is a member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Those surgeons are all ABPS certified and have a special interest and higher level of experience specifically in aesthetic surgery.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

No, plastic surgery is best done by a plastic surgeon

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No, I would not recommend having a general surgeon perform a tummy tuck, just as I would not recommend that a plastic surgeon perform neurosurgery. It is very important to find someone who is both trained and board-certified in the procedure of your choice.

The case you have described sounds fairly complex, and you will likely need to consult with both a general surgeon and a plastic surgeon for a comprehensive solution to the issue at hand.

We do often work together on cases of this sort, but having one surgeon perform two surgeries with different training requirements would not be in the patient's best interest.

Good luck.

In short - No

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General surgeons are not trained in plastic surgery and would not be an intelligent choice for having a tummy tuck. Specialty training is very important in giving you the best outcome possible. If you do have complications, they will send you to a plastic surgeon anyways as they would not be able to deal with it. You should not have a surgeon perform a procedure on you unless they know how to handle all complications related to the procedure. Also, sounds like a tummy tuck may not even be indicated in this situation. you should consult with a board certified plastic surgeon before proceeding any further. Be careful.

Bahram Ghaderi, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Only if the general surgeon is trained in plastic surgery

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You can tell a surgeon to cut on a dotted line and put in a certain type of sutures from point A to point B, but the experience and trainng in plastic surgery goes much beyond the technical aspects of a procedure. It involves decision-making, sensitivity to evolving blood supply and tissue tension issues, assessment of multiple variables and options, ability to avoid and handle potential complications, determining the appropriateness of a patient for a procedure, and explaining all the risks and alternatives. A general surgeon is not the doctor to be performing a tummy tuck.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Not no, but HELL no

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This to me is not a good idea. First, a general surgen has no formal training in the procedure, nor has he been trained to manage potential complications resulting from the procedure.

You already had a multi year complication when you were much younger. Now, a recurrent hernia, older, and who knows what other health issues are present. In this setting you want to perform a hernia repair, and a singificant operation (TT) by someone is not qualified?

My advice to you is to let a dentist work on your teeth, let a general surgeon work on your hernia, and ONLY let a board certified PLASTIC surgeon work on you abdominoplasty. If you choose to ignore my advice, you may find your self regretting it for years to come.


This is probably not in your best interests...

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Hi there-

During the many years we spend completing residency training in Plastic Surgery, preparing for and passing our Board Certification exams (written and oral), and in practice, we plastic surgeons learn many important details of skin and soft tissue surgery, wound healing, skin and soft tissue anatomy, fine suturing techniques, and the geometry of the beautiful body.

This high level of understanding of these important details is brought to bear to your advantage when you seek out a surgeon Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Someone who has not completed the many years of training in plastic surgery described above will simply not have the same knowledge and skills available to you.

Do I think there is a general surgeon in the world who could complete an operation and call it a "tummy tuck"? Yes.

Do I believe that someone with general surgery training could perform a tummy tuck as safely as I and with the same level of improvement to a beautiful and natural appearance? Absolutely not.

There will always be opportunities in life to save money- you need to be very careful that you understand that in this instance attempting to do so may compromise your safety or the chance for you to look your best.

General surgeon doing tummy tuck

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I am a plastic surgeon who first became board certified in general surgery at a top program. I would never have performed a tummy tuck as a general surgeon nor would any of my attendings.
Plastic surgery training is where a surgeon learns how to do the tough cases and deal with the complications.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

Complex case, you will need both!

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This sounds like a high risk case. I would approach this problem with more care. A non-healing wound for such a long time could signal other medical problems that need to be addressed before you attempt the repair.

Regarding the type of doctor that would do your tummy tuck: A Tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure that is performed by a plastic surgeon. Most reputable general surgeons would ask a plastic surgeon to help in a case where a ventral hernia repair need to be done in the same. This is the right thing to do. Best of luck!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Always have a plastic surgeon perform plastic surgery

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I do not feel comfortable with a general surgeon performing an abdominoplasty; especially in your situation. I recommend a board certified plastic surgeon based on many factors such as:

1. Plastic surgeons respect blood supply and will evaulate your abdominal scars to make alterations to the technique and optimize your ability to heal

2. Because plastic surgeons perform abdominoplasty procedures routinely, he or she will determine if you are a good candidate and then discuss the probability of developing a complication. Only with all of the information should you make an informed decision on if you should proceed with combination procedures.

Although it may seem that combining the two procedures will save you from undergoing 2 separate anesthetics, you must first and foremost be safe. If your plastic surgeon recommends delaying the abdominoplasty then there is a very good reason. Good luck.

Michael Baroody, MD
Danbury Plastic Surgeon

You get what you pay for

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Some general surgeons may do an adequate job on an abdominoplasty, but it is not in there specific area of expertise. I would sugest that you seek out a board certified Plastic Surgeon  for cosmetic surgery.

Walter D. Gracia, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 3 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.