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


The use of social media (networks) is growing tremendously, and more people are using the internet to obtain information in every aspect of life including medicine and plastic surgery.[1,2] Social media is a broad term and may include any of the following: blogs, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, internet forums, message boards, and more arenas for public interaction, conversation, and sharing. In fact, 95% of plastic surgery patients studied have used the internet as a source of information about their surgeons.[3]

Plastic surgeons are known to possess qualities such as creativity and adaptability to new techniques and technologies, which are advantageous in the competitive private market.[3,4] There is an increase in social media usage by plastic surgeons, but very few know how to effectively utilize it.[4,5] In other medical professions, a correlation was found between the age of health care providers and social media use[6] with residents' usage higher than attending physicians.[7] This finding might be a factor of novelty, and may erode over time.

Even if plastic surgeons abstain from an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., they may find themselves there involuntarily through patient-generated reviews and/or complaints. In addition, patient-centered portals and online Recommender Systems like Healthgrades and RateMDs give users the ability to both find and share information about physicians, directly.[8,9]

In addition, the information on the internet is tendentious and may lack scientific basis, which can lead the patient to erroneous assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Studies have investigated the prevalence of this phenomenon in aesthetic plastic surgery and have shown, for example, that more than a third of the sites that present information about breast augmentation contain false or misleading information.[10,11]

The competitive market, coupled with the patient's growing expectation of continuous personal contact,[12] poses a challenge to the plastic surgeon. The use of Internet communication can enable the management of contact with patients in a wise and regulated manner.

Various studies have shown that many patients search the web for remedies for their concerns, considering it as the place where an unbiased opinion can be found.[13,14]

The aims of this study were to examine posting on plastic surgery issues in 3 popular social networks - Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook and to analyze online communication methods of plastic surgeons with the public. The negative influence of social media, in the form of public shaming, has also been addressed, in an effort to evaluate the effect of this phenomena, as the first step in dealing with it in the future, mainly the cons and pros of this popular trend.