More Patients Turning to Social Media for Plastic Surgery Advice

Where do you go for advice when you’re thinking about having a cosmetic procedure done? Your friends? Your doctor? Those used to be the primary ways that people got recommendations for who to trust to rev up their appearance; but today, odds are just as good that you’ll jump straight onto a social media and networking site like Facebook or Twitter before you head into a doctor’s office for a face-to-face consultation.

According to a recently released study conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 42 percent of patients said that in 2011, they did most of their plastic surgery research—and got most of their answers—on a social media site.  Compare that to even just one year ago, 2010, when 63 percent of patients said they would ask friends for plastic surgery advice first (now down to 48 percent). Times are a-changing!

For my part, I think it’s incredible that patients have access to so much information online these days; it can be a wonderful resource to turn to. That said, I do worry that people can sometimes lean too heavily on social media—and even just Google searches—to get their medical information these days.

The issue with only using the Internet to do your medical research, of course, is that anyone can say anything online without having to substantiate their claims. There’s a lot of misinformation out there—and when it comes to your health, wholeheartedly assuming that what you’re reading is entirely true and accurate is not a risk you should be taking.

My advice would be this: Take full advantage of what the Internet has to offer. Crowd-source your answers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Google your heart out. Then schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon—or even two or three board-certified plastic surgeons, so you have more than one person’s opinion—before you make any decisions. Consultations are just as free as Facebook; and you may find that one discussion with a qualified doctor is even more helpful than the opinion of five hundred of your closest friends!