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Social media platforms for plastic surgery - Could it be used more educationally?

Photo: Social media platforms for plastic surgery - Could it be used more educationally....
Social media platforms have become an ever-growing source for gathering information as well as keeping connected with our friends and family.

According to the Global Digital Report 2019, there are currently almost 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, which is a 9% increase year on year.

Yet the needs for medical and research-related health news continues to remain in whitepaper and other traditional forms of mainstream press.

Due to their growth, we’re now seeing increasing examples of social networks being used to educate and inform larger audiences.

Twitter is a prime example of a social network being used to provide up to date information on global news and events.
Yet is it still behind when it comes to supplying educational based information in regards to plastic surgery, and is there room for credentialed plastic surgeons to use the platform to provide a positive spin on the procedure compared to the negative connotations it currently has with social media?

Where do the problems lie with plastic surgery and social media?

A study was conducted by Dr. Olivier Alexandre and other prominent social media plastic surgeons to determine whether social media platforms can be used to educate others on plastic surgery.

In their initial research, they analysed 2,880 posts related to plastic surgery which either included the word in the post or the hashtag. Several factors were analysed in the posts include the post author, the subject of the post, if any references were used to cite in the post and how the word/hashtag was used in context.

According to the research, of the posts that were made regarding plastic surgery, only 6% of #PlasticSurgery was used in 5.4% of the posts, with surgeons utilising the hashtag over 46.5% of the time compared to 20% of it by the public.

Further to this, a large majority of the posts were related to celebrity plastic surgery compared with topics such as patient safety and reconstruction surgery which could be extremely educational for users.

This shows that over the years, the obsessive celebrity culture around plastic surgery dominates the social media presence.

Rather than discovering more about the procedures, we see many users referring to celebrity posts to understand what they had done.

There’s a growing obsession to look more like celebrities we idolise due to the personal regimes and lifestyles that they currently live.

As a result, there’s a risk that members of society are becoming obsessed with ‘improving’ their appearance for their visual representation across social media platforms for the wrong reasons, and gaining information from the wrong places.

This is creating a negative light being shone on plastic surgery, rather than it highlighting the positive reasons for improving one's lifestyle and health.

How could the thoughts of plastic surgery on social media change?

One of the co-authors for the publication, Dr. Branford, was quoted as saying “Social media sites are a potentially powerful vehicle of integrating and enhancing education, leading to a useful role in e-learning within plastic surgery”.

There are plenty of examples where social media has been used to shape younger individuals views on different topics and have successful use in education.

Similarly, the platform can be utilised as a form of education and engagement for plastic surgery and surgeons.

The study found that the hashtag #PlasticSurgery was efficiently used by plastic surgeons, unfortunately, it was used for personal promotion for 37% of the posts.

This is where elements of social media could be used more effectively to educate users of the platforms interested in the topic.

According to a series of Twitter surveys conducted as part of the study, many members of the public preferred for plastic surgeons to use social media platforms to educate their followers (93%) and users rather than for marketing (7%).

This provides plastic surgeons with the opportunity to link to resources, blogs and white papers that provide educational information on the matter.

If it is a matter that plastic surgeons still wish to promote their personal brand and market themselves, they can do so via educational methods.

Rather than promoting a business or a service that they currently acquire, there is the possibility to link to their own findings and blogs which can educate other users.

Research has found that 80% of the public wanted recognised plastic surgeons to post their own articles as it’s more reliable compared to websites that are solely for the purpose of promoting or tabloid press websites.

Positive social media for plastic surgery

In a society where appearance and looks are an obsession, it’s easy to forget that there are still users who prefer to look beneath the surface when it comes to promoting better-self.

Doctors and surgeons are more than qualified when it comes to providing the procedures, but there are still risks and dangers that can develop.

Education on such matters is crucial to ensure they’re being taken for the right reasons rather than simply going through a breast augmentation surgery for the sake of others.

There’s no better way to reach out to a global audience than through social media. It’s about understanding what resources are available to you and utilising them in the right way to better knowledge and increase awareness.

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