2018 has come a long way in the use of social media and nearly one-third of the world is currently on it. Cosmetic Surgeons are no longer restricted to traditional media platforms to connect with the public, and more than half of all Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeons are on digital platforms in one way or another and this engagement is ever increasing.
At a time when social media tools have become indispensable for many medical establishments, Cosmetic Surgeons are increasingly using this for medical education, disseminating medical articles, patient education, building private practices, leadership and connecting with the public.
This also means that there is a tremendous responsibility in how social media is used and perceived by Surgeons and private surgical practices all over to influence the next generation of Surgeons who are currently medical students, at various levels of their study.
These students are now exposed to a wealth of information that previously was limited by institutional access and geographic base. The importance of curation and true information on social media with respect to how Cosmetic Surgeons use these channels is now directly synonymous with medical students’ continued interest in the field of surgery. Hence the need for social media posts and websites to walk the talk pertaining to ethics and values that the surgeon and the surgical practice uphold.
In this regard, some Cosmetic Surgeons believe that social media, if used wisely, can actually be a great supportive tool to reach out to a wider audience and also emphasise on values, realistic results and patient care at all times.
Social media has opened up doors for more opportunities, and the next generation of Cosmetic Surgeons are able to overcome institutional barriers to learn new concepts that would be otherwise inaccessible to them.
Established and senior Cosmetic Surgeons and practices are also in a position to mentor these medical students and steer them in the direction that is needed. Social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Instagram provide a very important conduit amongst students, teachers, surgeons/physicians and the general public. This in turn has given a boost to the advancements in the field of cosmetic/plastic surgery as communication barriers slip away slowly but steadily and more insights are gained for everyone who participate.
Today with immense advancements in digital technology, Surgeons and medical students alike can keep abreast of surgical advancements through remote learning via Video Conferencing. Online communities have now developed over Social media platforms where students can share and learn from each other through shared content that explain surgical procedures, technical approaches and advancements in a particular field of surgery and allow the space to ask for advice and receive mentorship from experienced surgeons. Medical students interacting on social media is relatively new and has the potential to be of great benefit as mentioned above.
Social Media Use among Patients-(image below)
Facebook had the greatest patient engagement, with 53 percent of participants using it once or more daily, followed by Instagram, with 30 percent using it once or more daily.
The oldest networks had the most users, with 76 percent of all patients using Facebook and 72 percent using YouTube. Unlike Facebook, however, YouTube did not attract high engagement, with only 6 percent of patients using it once or more daily.
Plastic surgeons favor Facebook, as an excellent choice, because 23 percent of the world’s population uses it at least once a month. With their heightened need to attract patients, aesthetic plastic surgeons and those in solo practice are the most likely in the specialty to be on social media.
In the last 10 years, surgical and technological advancements have created more approaches to procedures and social media influencers along with the financial climate play a role in the kind of cosmetic procedure trends undertaken.
“The year 2017 saw a multitude of Breast Augmentation surgeries being adopted in the UK, and there has been a significant rise in ‘low profile’ breast implants, which offer a more natural look compared to the Glamour aesthetic of the past”, as said by Dr Ash Dutta of Aesthetic Beauty Centre in UK.
Social media has successfully bridged the gap for everyone in the cosmetic/medical industry, and it is our collective responsibility as Cosmetic Surgeons not to exploit the opportunities available, but to meaningfully create positive patient experiences, form great relationships with the next generation of Cosmetic Surgeons thus ensuring that both ends of the spectrum understand the levels of integrity needed to provide a patient-centered, ethical, good quality care for the patients.
Dr Ash Dutta, Founder of Aesthetic Beauty Centre, is one of the few highly trained and accredited surgeons in the UK with 18 years of experience in the cosmetics space.