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Social Media Use and Impact on Plastic Surgery Practice

Vardanian, Andrew J. M.D.; Kusnezov, Nicholas B.S.; Im, Daniel D. M.D.; Lee, James C. B.A.; Jarrahy, Reza M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: May 2013 - Volume 131 - Issue 5 - p 1184–1193
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318287a072
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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.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

Los Angeles, Calif.

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles.

Received for publication August 13, 2012; accepted October 3, 2012.

Presented at Plastic Surgery The Meeting: Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 27 through 29, 2012.

Disclosures: Although there are no financial conflicts of interest, Dr. Jarrahy is the current Vice President of Communications of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons. In that role he has active participation in and oversight of the Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons Web site, app, and social media platform development.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. A direct URL citation appears in the text; simply type the URL address into any Web browser to access this content. A clickable link to the material is provided in the HTML text of this article on the Journal’s Web site

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 465, Los Angeles, Calif. 90024

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons