Plastic Surgery Faces the Web

Analysis of the Popular Social Media for Plastic Surgeons

Yeela Ben Naftali; Ori Samuel Duek; Sheizaf Rafaeli; Yehuda Ullmann


Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2018;6(12):e1958 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: The use of social media is growing tremendously along with its impact on the practice of plastic surgery, for better or for worse. Patients are increasingly using social media to obtain information about either the procedure or the surgeon.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine social media posting regarding plastic surgery and to analyze successful online communication methods of the plastic surgeons with the public.

Methods: A prospective analysis of 3 popular, global social media networks was performed, using the English language key phrases "plastic surgery" and "#plastic_surgery." Three hundred posts related to plastic surgery published on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook in November 2017 were assessed by the following parameters: author identity, subject (self-promotion, educational, commercial, and personal posts), "social media currency" (likes, shares, comments, and views), and if special effects (videos, photos, etc.) or viral subjects such as reality stars or shaming were utilized.

Results: Sixty-three percentage of the posts on Instagram originated with plastic surgeons, compared with 18% on Facebook and only 13% on YouTube (P < 0.01); together, the plastic surgeons' posts comprise 31% of the total posts, whereas 49% of posts published by commercial companies (P < 0.01). Most of the posts on Instagram were self-promotional (83%), in comparison to Facebook (29%) or YouTube (6%); P < 0.01. YouTube posts are more personal in nature compared with Instagram and Facebook [39%, 7%, 9%, respectively (P < 0.01)]. Educational content in the posts accounts for only 16% of them, P < 0.01. Shaming is seen in 21% of the posts, especially in Facebook (39%), and mainly related to famous public figures (25%); P < 0.05. Celebrity endorsed posts received more attention in every aspect of social media currency (likes, comments, shares, and views). The use of images of women attracts attention and is widely used in social media posts of plastic surgery (68%). Posts that chose to include videos (22%) are generously rewarded. Online shaming also attracts attention, mostly found in Facebook (39%), and mainly of a public figure (25%). The 10 most powerful attention drawing motives were jokes, attractive female plastic surgeons, celebrities, personal stories, provocative surgeries, videos or photos of surgeries, sex, shaming, and patient education.

Conclusion: Social media have become an important tool for self-promotion and a means to providing better customer service. This trend applies to the plastic surgeon as well. The study's main insights were to use Instagram, personal stories, educational post, videos and other unique inputs, and involve celebrities in the posts. In general, it would be wise to invest and understand these communication platforms, as they have become the path to dominate the field.