Social media use and impact on plastic surgery practice

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 May;131(5):1184-1193. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318287a072.


Background: Social media platforms have revolutionized the way human beings communicate, yet there is little evidence describing how the plastic surgery community has adopted social media. In this article, the authors evaluate current trends in social media use by practicing plastic surgeons.

Methods: An anonymous survey on the use of social media was distributed to members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Prevalent patterns of social media implementation were elucidated.

Results: One-half of respondents were regular social media users. Reasons for using social media included the beliefs that incorporation of social media into medical practice is inevitable (56.7 percent), that they are an effective marketing tool (52.1 percent), and that they provide a forum for patient education (49 percent). Surgeons with a primarily aesthetic surgery practice were more likely to use social media. Most respondents (64.6 percent) stated that social media had no effect on their practice, whereas 33.8 percent reported a positive impact and 1.5 percent reported a negative impact.

Conclusions: This study depicts current patterns of social media use by plastic surgeons, including motivations driving its implementation and impressions on its impact. Many feel that social media are an effective marketing tool that generates increased exposure and referrals. A small number of surgeons have experienced negative repercussions from social media involvement. Our study reveals the presence of a void. There is a definite interest among those surveyed in developing best practice standards and oversight to ensure ethical use of social media platforms throughout the plastic surgery community. Continuing discussion regarding these matters should be ongoing as our experience with social media in plastic surgery evolves.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Marketing of Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Private Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surgery, Plastic / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States