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Social Media and Plastic Surgery In The Operating Room

By Dr. Charles J. Galanis

Social Media and Plastic Surgery

Plastic Surgery on social media platforms has become commonplace.  People everywhere have their faces constantly buried in their cellphones.  Even when I am standing in an elevator, I notice that people are staring at their phones even though they can’t possibly have any service!

Social media’s inflluence has exploded.  People assess their personal or professional value based on “likes” and “followers.”

Our use of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook not only to interact with our friends but also to peek into the lives of millions of strangers is now common place.

It should come as no surprise that this trend has made its way into the offices of cosmetic surgeons and the operating rooms during surgical procedures.  We now can find a plastic surgeon with thousands – even millions – of followers on social networking sites like Instagram and Snapchat.

I remember when video clips started coming from the operating room during cosmetic procedures.  That is when I started to wonder: Is Cosmetic Surgery going too far?

The argument against…

  • Safety: Even in a consumer market like cosmetic surgery, we are still first and foremost healthcare providers. That demands uncompromised dedication to patient care. When a doctor is with his or her patient, that patient deserves undivided attention.  By posting a video in the middle of a cosmetic surgery, the surgeon may be giving the misleading impression that he or she is paying more attention to the camera than to the patient.  If they’re not focused entirely on the patient, are they more prone to making an error?  Are they adding unnecessary time under anesthesia?  Are the staff members assisting the surgeon distracted from their tasks and therefore prone to errors themselves?
  • Professionalism: Many people think that this burgeoning supply of operating room videos on social media serves to lower the image of a surgeon to something of a carnival showman or of that of the new professional social media influencers. Some even fear that potentially harmful body images could be shared.  These videos can take away from the serious nature of what a plastic surgeon does to restore form and improve the quality of life for their plastic surgery patient.
  • Misleading information: Showing results on the operating room table of a reconstructive surgery is not always an honest representation of what a patient can expect for long-term results. In most cases, the final result of cosmetic procedures will not be appreciated for several months.  For example, showing results of a Brazilian butt lift (fat transfer to the buttocks) in the operating room sets the viewer up for false expectations as much of the fat that is transferred will be resorbed over time.
  • Compromising a sterile field: Some providers bring up concerns that use of a cell phone so close to the operative field might unnecessarily increase the risk of contamination and infection.

The argument for…


  • Patient education: Patients often fear the unknown. An informed patient is therefore an empowered and confident patient.  Many people are visual learners.  By having access to raw footage from the operating room, patients can learn more than they can from a conversation or brochure.  Viewers also gain insight into how the doctor is and can even interact by sending questions.  Furthermore, in teaching centers around the world, attending surgeons frequently pause during cosmetic surgery for teaching points to residents and students.  Social media is simply changing the audience from residents to patients.
  • Professionalism: Making a video during a cosmetic procedure does not excuse a surgeon from performing duties consistent with the highest standards of patient safety.  The same rules of operating room accreditation and board certification still apply.  Practices like the “time out” – a safety checklist that occurs at the beginning of cosmetic treatments – are still performed.  These videos also do not take the surgeon’s attention away from attaining the best result possible for his or her patient.
  • Remaining Current with Technology: Like it or not, social media has become a principle thoroughfare of communication in today’s world. To ignore that would be to stay behind the times and out of touch with the patient population.  Using social media to educate, without compromising patient safety, is simply keeping up with the times.

plastic surgery social media

How is Social Media’s Influence effecting growth

While more people are spending more time on social media platforms, the growing influence is driving young women’s attitudes toward cosmetic procedures.

Some of the increased social media usage is leading more young adults to undertake surgical cosmetic procedures to increase positive self compassion, lifting self esteem when alined with body dissatisfaction in search of a more positive psychosocial wellbeing.

During the pandemic, most of us were limited to only social media use to communicate with certain family members and friends.  For those of us who were working from home we were introduced to Zoom conference calls with only our computer cameras to project our facial expressions.

Well those Zoom meetings started to work on us as some became excessively self judgemental of the face they were seeing everyday.  Interest in cosmetic procedures took off during the pandemic and continue to increase today.  The range of people interested to undergo cosmetic surgery is at its highest historical level.

Most social media platforms are having profound and concerning impacts on people’s confidence in their personal attributes. The widespread use of edited and filtered images on social media has significantly influenced the field of plastic surgery.

The body images that we are exposed to are giving thought to unrealistic body ideals, but are opening the doors and minds to people to access cosmetic surgery.  Young women’s body perceptions have been shifted.

Surgeons are needing to be more diligent in recognizing alterations in patients inspiration photos, whether they stem from lighting, makeup, or the filtering effects of smartphone cameras.

Questions and Answers

How surgeons should behave on social media?

Surgeons are permitted to participate in online discussions about health on specialized message boards, forums, or an open social media platform.

Nonetheless, it is crucial for them to exercise caution and limit their contributions to general statements, avoiding specific recommendations that readers might interpret as personalized healthcare advice.

Can you post operating room pictures?

Sharing a patient’s picture on a social media platform without their written authorization can constitute a violation of HIPAA regulations.

However, there are many young women, such as those who are social media influencers, who would love to have videos or photos of their own body image during cosmetic treatments, such as a breast augmentation, posted on line for the world to see.  Signing a waiver would not be a problem.

What are the current trends in the use of social media by plastic surgeons?

Most plastic surgeons leverage social media to establish their practice’s brand, draw in patients, and educate the public. Failing to participate in this invaluable tool could result in the loss of plastic surgeons’ voices in the ongoing conversation.

Is social media having a big impact on cosmetic surgery?

A 2021 survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that more than half of all patients indicated that social media played a role in influencing their decision to pursue cosmetic surgery.

Are social media influencers changing plastic surgery trends?

The ascent of social media has not just revolutionized our communication methods but has also profoundly shaped our ideals of beauty.

In my opinion..

I have dear friends and colleagues who regularly pause during cosmetic surgery to make videos for social media.  These are conscientious and skilled cosmetic surgeons.  These are even board certified plastic surgeons for whom I have a great deal of respect.

I do not believe they are compromising patient care.  In their eyes they are providing a valuable service to educate patients on what the whole experience entails.  I make videos in the operating room.

However, I choose NOT to make videos where I stop operating to turn and talk to the camera.  That is not a judgement on those that do.  It is simply a personal choice.

I think the most appropriate approach is a discussion with a patient that is honest and transparent. As long as putting the patient first and behaving professionally remain the priorities, I see nothing wrong with those who choose to engage in making these videos in the OR.

Book Your Cosmetic Surgery Procedure

Informed decisions and successful cosmetic surgery journeys result from consulting with a skilled board certified plastic surgeon, setting realistic expectations, and responsibly utilizing social media for research. Set up an initial consultation for your cosmetic procedure.  Contact Galanis Plastic Surgery Beverly Hills today.





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