Social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, impact the practice of physicians, including plastic surgeons.1 Patients use social media to gather information and formulate opinions when selecting their plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery residents use social media to share operative articles, collaborate on research initiatives, and discuss politically charged issues affecting the specialty. It should come as no surprise that Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery provides a dedicated social media tab that includes two blog sections: PRSonally Speaking and PRS Resident Chronicles.2,3 Blogging is arguably one of the “older” and most widespread social media tools, and has become an essential component for many plastic surgeons and their associated marketing strategy.4 Despite this, a paucity of information exists in the literature regarding plastic and reconstructive surgery blogs. This article provides tips on creating entertaining, engaging, and educational blogs to assist in the advancement of a plastic surgeon’s career.
A blog provides the plastic surgeon a method with which to demonstrate expertise on certain topics or procedures. Generally, these blogs will provide details regarding the clinical and physical features of the surgical problem followed by a description of what the surgery entails. Those that refrain from medical jargon and instead “coach” the potential patient through the surgical procedure tend to be more effective.5 Using evidence-based literature to support claims in blogs adds credibility, which can be further heightened if the author of the blog also wrote the publication. For example, one surgeon uses many of his peer-reviewed articles on rhinoplasty to substantiate his claims, including those on his blog, which gives him credibility and establishes him as one of the premiere experts of this procedure.6–8 A successful blogger must be up-to-date with the innovations of the field to offer patients a comprehensive overview of the procedure being discussed. By using the blog as a proxy for surgical guidance, a plastic surgeon can display expertise and recruit patients to a practice.
An important aspect to developing an impactful blog relies on fostering interaction and feedback. The more one can engage the readers, whether they are patients or plastic surgeons, the more likely the blog will produce an interaction that will guide blog entries and keep content relevant. This will allow the plastic surgeon to shape and directly guide patients with many common concerns, and clarify common misconceptions. One way this can occur is by linking one’s blogs to one’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Tags, handles, and hashtags for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, respectively, allow a plastic surgeon to connect with a broader audience. For example, adding the handle of a popular figure along with a picture with the “#aesthetic surgery” when you Twitter about your blog post on a high superficial musculoaponeurotic system rhytidectomy will generalize your specific operation to a wider range of procedures, thereby expanding your outreach. Furthermore, blogs can be interactive by presenting controversial topics and requesting comments from the audience. More interaction will lead to a larger buzz and eventually to a greater number of readers.
Blogs can be entertaining to draw readers but must be tempered from “selling” sensationalism, as this can pose a risk to one’s reputation. Negative patient reviews can be magnified by social media’s ubiquitous and instantaneous outreach. Furthermore, one must be cognizant of potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.9,10 Plastic surgeons must be overly cautious in their blog statements, making sure to stay attuned and adherent to the ethical boundaries and scope of advertising as advised by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Maintaining the highest degree of professionalism will pay dividends in the long run.
For busy plastic surgeons, finding time to establish a blog can be a daunting task. In this regard, it is important for all bloggers to engage and work with colleagues. Having guest bloggers, linking to complementary providers, and affiliating with experts in other specialties will serve to add content and guidance that can add tremendous value by pooling resources. Fortunately, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery will often accept pieces from guest bloggers that are read by the Editor-in-Chief. These pieces include a myriad of topics related to plastic surgery and offer a forum for disseminating ideas. In addition, all blogs on Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offer a commentary section that affords opportunities to add to the discussion of a blog.
Engaging in the world of social media, if executed carefully, often leads to increased Web traffic, which then leads to increased foot traffic—this has been demonstrated in multiple other industries.11 Old and new ventures in all aspects of society have engaged and embraced social media. Any modern organization that engages the public finds it essential to have a social media presence. In medicine, and plastic surgery in particular, the topics of public discussion are extremely personal and sensitive; thus, great caution must be taken to ensure privacy and ethical engagement in such a public manner. When done well, however, the modern plastic surgeon blogger can be a tremendous resource for their community and colleagues and serve to augment any practice.
The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.
Anup Patel, M.D., M.B.A.
Stefano Fusi, M.D., M.B.A.
Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D.
Michael Ditillo, D.O.
Rajendra F. Sawh-Martinez, M.D.
Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Conn.
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2. Rohrich RJ, Weinstein AG. Connect with plastic surgery: Social media for good. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012;129:789–792
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5. Rohrich RJ, Stuzin JM. Bringing the masters to PRSJournal.com: Baker Gordon videos on the journal website. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;126:1399–400
6. Unger JG, Roostaeian J, Cheng DH, et al. The open approach in secondary rhinoplasty: Choosing an incision regardless of prior placement. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013;132:780–786
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8. Rohrich RJ, Bolden K. Ethnic rhinoplasty. Clin Plast Surg. 2010;37:353–370
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10. Mueller MA, Glassett TS, Burke SM, Nichter LS. Protecting a plastic surgeon’s reputation: Damage control for dishonest online reviews. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013;131:670e–671e
11. Dauwe P, Heller JB, Unger JG, Graham D, Rohrich RJ. Social networks uncovered: 10 tips every plastic surgeon should know. Aesthet Surg J. 2012;32:1010–1015
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