Study Warns Against Non-Certified Plastic Surgeons On Social Media

A recent study conducted by the Northwestern University indicated that most of the aesthetic surgery service providers who advertise themselves on social media are not board certified, thereby putting the people who respond to these ads at risk.

“This is a very scary finding”, researcher Robert Dorfman said in a press release. “Providers – ranging from physicians who are not licensed in plastic surgery to dentists, hair salon employees and barbers – are doing procedures for which they do not have formal or extensive training”.

The study is the first of its kind to analyze various kinds of aesthetic service providers promoting body-contouring procedures like facial surgery, breast augmentation, gluteal buttocks augmentation and liposuction on Instagram. The takeaway? Don’t look for a plastic surgeon on social media. “Cosmetic surgery is really unregulated”, said the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Dr. Clyde Ishii. However, not all of them have the same experience, either the required to be considered as certified to perform as surgeons appropriately.

In a previous study from the Northwestern University, Dr. John Kim reported that the number of post- panniculectomy complexities has increased by almost 300 % when performed by non-plastic surgeons compared with board-certified plastic surgeons.

The complication rate after cosmetic surgery was higher in patients who continued to smoke: 24 per cent versus 14 per cent.

“Although a tummy tuck may seem like a straightforward removal of skin and fat, there are several variations in the technique that allow us to optimize the results for individual patients that can only be learned in the setting of the full spectrum of plastic surgery residency training”, Schierle said.

The authors concluded, “The dialogue between plastic surgeon and patient during the cosmetic surgery consultation serves as a unique moment to provide targeted smoking cessation counseling that may persist well beyond the surgical interaction.”The research appears in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery“.

Social media has transformed itself into a leading platform for people who seek cosmetic surgery. Content analysis was used to qualitatively evaluate each of the nine top posts associated with each hashtag (189 posts).

Schierle expressed concern that the non-certified posts are “drowning out” the more credible ones.

A total of 1,789,270 posts utilized the 21 hashtags sampled in this study. In fact, only 17.8 percent of the top posts came from board-certified plastic surgeons. According to the study, at least 26 percent of them hire doctors with other specialties, such as general surgeons, family doctors, gynecologists, dermatologists, otolaryngologists, and ER doctors. All non-plastic surgery-trained physicians marketed themselves as cosmetic surgeons.

Some of the top posts on photo-sharing app Instagram were from dentists, spas and a hair salon offering their services.

Most of the posts (67.1%) included self-promotional content as opposed to educational posts (32.9%).

“I see examples of patients who’ve been botched by providers who were inadequately credentialed, and patients who were misled by false advertising or social media”. “It is critical that board-certified plastic surgeons use social media like Instagram as a platform to educate patients about the risks of surgery”.

There are much safer ways to find a surgeon than following Instagram filters.

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