How Social Media and Plastic Surgery Go Hand in Hand

It’s incredible how the plastic surgery business can change decade by decade, and we’re not just talking about the popularity of cosmetic procedures here.

Way back in the 80s and 90s, it was generally celebrity that pushed the plastic surgery industry, with many patients wanting to look like their favorite movie stars and models. Then in the 2000s, there was a significant cultural shift toward reality television, creating an entirely new generation of “stars” who later became models for plastic surgery (think the Kardashians). Today, there is a brand new factor that is pushing the plastic surgery business forward, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future: social media.

How Social Media Has Changed Plastic Surgery

Do you have a professional Instagram account? What about SnapChat? There are dozens of visually based social media channels that almost perfectly cater to the plastic surgery industry. Many high-profile plastic surgeons today have made their careers through the effective use of social media marketing. By sharing photos and videos of surgical procedures and final results, they’ve built vast followings of people who regularly check their content. This has translated to massive growth in the popularity of plastic surgery worldwide as, thanks to social media, it gains more acceptance by the day.

More traditional social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, have given plastic surgery practices all over the world incredible access to marketing tools that simply didn’t exist even a decade ago. Now, surgeons can target specific audiences with their social media ads, reaching the patients that they want.

Instagram Filter Plastic Surgery

Some more experienced plastic surgeons may remember the days when a patient would take in a magazine or photograph of a celebrity and ask for their nose. But recently, there has been an incredible shift in what patients are asking for, and it is all because of social media. Specifically, social media like Instagram or SnapChat.

Have you ever played around with Instagram filters? These are digital manipulations of selfies, putting digital “makeup” on the person, slightly changing the shape of their face, or even making them look like a cartoon character. Instagram filters allow people to create an idealized version of themselves in selfie form, which they then post to their social media channels. It is therefore unsurprising that many want this same functionality in the real world and they are turning to plastic surgeons to do it.

Some patients are going to practices with their phones, showing the surgeon one of their selfies with a filter on it, and saying, “Make me look like this.” In other words, rather than modeling themselves on celebrities, they are modeling themselves on… themselves. Or rather, an idealized version of themselves. Although some in the media have been very cautious about this trend, many in the plastic surgery industry consider it to be a fantastic development. The job of a plastic surgeon is to make someone’s outside reflect who they feel like on the inside. This new Instagram “plastic surgery” allows patients to get precisely that, and become closer to their ideal physical selves.

There are downsides, however. The “instant” part of “Instagram” breeds impatience with some clients, as they may expect their results to happen immediately. This is obviously impossible. It’s important for plastic surgeons to set realistic expectations for cosmetic procedures. Unlike an automatic Instagram filter, it can take weeks’ worth of recovery before patients actually see their results. Be sure that they know how long recovery will likely take and give them a realistic expectation for what their results will be. Unlike an Instagram filter, plastic surgery can’t automatically eliminate every single perceived imperfection overnight.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Honestly, who knows?

Today, technology is progressing at a faster and faster pace. Just a few years ago, no one could have predicted how SnapChat or Instagram would make many plastic surgeons famous. As an ISAPS Plastic Surgeon, it’s vital that you keep on top of technological trends, just as you carefully watch cosmetic trends. If you discover that there is a new social media tool that is perfect for plastic surgeons, give it a shot. Who knows, you might find yourself on the ground floor of the next big thing!

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