Cosmetic surgery adverts on Instagram for non-certified surgeons are putting the public at risk, according to a new study.
The research, carried out by Northwestern University, USA, discovered that only 17.8% of nearly two million posts (1,789,270) on the popular social media site came from board-certified plastic surgeons. The rest were posted by dentists, hairdressers, spas and doctors who are not licenced in plastic surgery.
All non-plastic surgery-trained physicians, including gynecologists, dermatologists and emergency-medicine doctors, marketed themselves as cosmetic surgeons.
Robert Dorfman, the first author of the study, said, ‘A cosmetic surgeon is not necessarily the same thing as a board-certified plastic surgeon, and patients need to be made aware of this.’
The researchers identified the 21 most common hashtags used to promote cosmetic surgery procedures and, when these were analysed, it was discovered that board-certified plastic surgeons were significantly more likely to post educational content over promotional content when compared to non-plastic surgeons (62.1% versus 38.1%).
There are fears that content posted by fully-certified surgeons is being drowned out by more Instagram-savvy providers who employ more user-friendly terminology – such as ‘boob job’ instead of ‘breast augmentation’ – to attract and interact with followers.
Michael Saul, from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, said, “Social media has become an influencer of cosmetic surgery trends and also a tool for users to find providers – however this research shows just how dangerous relying on the clever use of hashtags can be.”
Mr Saul added, “In order to find a fully certified, and safe, cosmetic surgeon, we strongly suggest first consulting with your GP, who may be able to offer you guidance or specific recommendations for surgeons. And, knowing how confusing the process can sometimes be, we have put together a comprehensive guide for finding a fully qualified cosmetic surgeon that can be viewed here.”