Background: Plastic surgeons are competing for their share of a growing but still limited market, thus making advertising an important component in a successful plastic surgery practice.
Objective: The authors evaluate the variables, characteristics, and presentation features that make print advertisements most effectively pique the interest of individuals selecting a plastic surgeon.
Methods: An online survey was administered to 404 individuals with active interest in plastic surgery from 10 major metropolitan areas. Participants were presented with 5 different advertisements from plastic surgeons throughout the country and were asked a series of both closed- and open-ended questions to assess verity, quality, and marketability of each advertisement. Reponses to open-ended questions were analyzed using the Wordle program (www.wordle.net).
Results: The most frequent themes identified for all 5 ads were "Being beautiful is possible" (41%), "I could be beautiful" (24%), "Some people need surgery to be beautiful" (16%), and "Being beautiful is important" (14%). Advertisement 1-featuring 3 women and no pre- or posttreatment photography, no physician photography, and a listing of the 3 physicians' credentials but not a list of the services provided-received the highest overall preference rating.
Conclusions: Factors including emotions felt while reading, unique qualities of the advertisement, list of procedures performed, use of models versus actual patients, and pictures of the plastic surgeons were found to contribute to the respondents' overall perception of advertisements used to market a plastic surgery practice.
Keywords: advertising; cosmetic surgery; marketing; plastic surgery; research.