Social media continues to take off for all fields and plastic surgery is no exception. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, all of the sites that host videos now have surgeons posting their own, showing non-surgical procedures like injectables and CoolSculpting. Some even stream surgery live, a situation that has many surgeons questioning how far the pairing of plastic surgery and social media should go.
On the latest episode of No Spin Live, board certified plastic surgeons discuss a recent live streamed breast augmentation and whether or not these situations are truly beneficial for patients, the top goal of any surgeon.
The Live-Streamed Surgery
Surgeons agree that showing videos of procedures can be extremely educational and beneficial. But when videos are live streamed, the ability of a surgeon to do her or his best work comes into question. What is the purpose of this video?
“We’ve covered this so many times,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Pozner. “Look, we’ve all come to the conclusion this is pure marketing; it’s only for the good of the plastic surgeon. This is not for the good of the patient. If you want educational videos, look up on YouTube. There’s plenty of videos to see liposuction, facelift, breast augmentation. You don’t need to see a live streaming video of some guy in his office. It’s pure marketing, it’s purely for the plastic surgeon’s bottom-line. I’m not a big fan.”
Is it Marketing? Or is it Education?
No Spin Live Host Dr. William P. Adams Jr. has made video a major point in his practice. Videos help patients become comfortable with selecting a surgeon and do a lot in terms of education, especially when the expert speaking is an experienced surgeon. “Do you like when people act like this is some educational thing?” he asks the NSL panel.
“It’s not that I like it or don’t like it,” beings board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Del Vecchio.” I think the fundamental question is if it’s legal, and the answer is yes. You have a consenting patient and a consenting surgeon. I try to keep an open mind about this. I think there are a lot of patients and people who would actually enjoy it. People enjoy these reality TV shows watching, you know, Kevin Hart having a cup of coffee at a restaurant. People enjoy watching these nip tuck shows and Botched. What makes it any different? It’s just not as professional.”
When the doctor has to be a showman, when they’re really supposed to be a surgeon, that could be a problem. – William P. Adams Jr., MD
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Zienowicz knows there is interest in these live streams, but at what cost? “We’re a selfie generation. Look at what is going up there on a daily basis. There are clearly patients that are gung-ho about doing this and that’s their end of the ticket,” he shares. “The marketing people that are the ones that are putting us up to it for the most part. There so much more conversion when you have video there, so that’s what’s propelling the market for us to actually take those risks and, you know, put it out there.”
Live Stream is Great, but Maybe Not For All Situations
The main argument against live streaming surgery is that surgery is serious, that hasn’t changed. A surgeon has a tremendous responsibility to the patient when they’re on the operating table under general anesthesia to not only achieve the patients’ goals, but to keep them safe. For procedures like a Botox injection or a CoolSculpting procedure, live streaming makes more sense considering the patient is awake and the situation is less serious.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Doherty believes live streaming can be useful, but doing it just to do it isn’t a great reason when surgery is involved.
“I agree with everyone; I think this is a concern when this is happening,” he explains. “It’s making what we do a commodity. We do surgery, we have an intimate relationship with our patients that is sacred and we’re obligated to take care of them. It’s a very different scenario when doing a live surgery at a meeting when everyone is a professional and everyone understands you’re not showboating. I think this isn’t great for plastic surgery. It’s really different than putting an Instagram video of injecting Botox and filler, that’s a different thing.”