ANY licensed medical doctor--not just plastic surgeons--may legally perform suction lipectomy, or lipoplasty, in his or her office.
How do you decide what sort of doctor to choose?
For starters, Dr. Harvey Zarem, chief of the division of plastic surgery at UCLA Medical Center, points out that a bit of caution is in order: A doctor who calls himself "board certified" in fact may not be certified in plastic surgery--or in any surgical specialty. To verify the doctor's credentials, consult a copy of the Directory of Medical Specialists at your local library.
The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons takes the position that board-certified plastic surgeons are best qualified to perform liposuction. The requirement for certification is three years of training in general surgery and an additional minimum of two years in plastic surgery, as well as written and oral examinations.
"To a man whose only tool is a hammer, all the world looks like a nail," says Dr. Simon Fredericks of Houston, who chaired the ASPRS report on liposuction. (The cost of a liposuction vacuum pump is an easily recovered $1,500 or so.) "I have great trouble with (doctors) who are not surgeons and go to weekend courses and have only one modality of treatment. Only a trained surgeon can determine whether someone needs, say, a tummy tuck or suctioning or reconstruction of the abdominal wall."