Plastic Surgeons in TikTok: Top Influencers, Most Recent Posts, and User Engagement : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

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Plastic Surgeons in TikTok: Top Influencers, Most Recent Posts, and User Engagement

Das, Rishub K. B.A.; Drolet, Brian C. M.D.

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 148(6):p 1094e-1097e, December 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000008566
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Social media platforms enable plastic surgeons to interact with a wide audience, including other providers, trainees, and patients. Plastic surgeons, in particular, can benefit from visual-based platforms and are frontrunners among physicians in the adoption of social media.1 Some plastic surgeons are even recognized as social media influencers. Influencers are content producers with established credibility in a specific field and a large enough following to “influence” public perception. As influencers, plastic surgeons can improve patient knowledge and affect health-related behaviors.2 Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have been shown to be influential in plastic surgery patient populations.1,3 However, the literature lacks evaluation of plastic surgery content in TikTok (ByteDance, Beijing, People’s Republic of China), the most downloaded mobile application on Android smartphones and iPhones in 2020.4

TikTok is a feed-based, video-sharing social media platform that has increased in popularity since its 2017 release. As of August of 2020, there are over 100 million monthly active users in the United States alone.4 Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm creates a video feed of user-generated content that is agnostic to followership, thereby allowing videos to reach a broader audience. TikTok is more community-oriented than other social media platforms. It is not geared toward marketing, and sponsored content is less prevalent. The application offers creators (e.g., plastic surgeons) tools to create videos responding directly to questions, comments, and videos from other users (e.g., patients). Engaging with patients in real time on the platform allows plastic surgeons to promote evidence-based medicine, correct misinformation, and ease patient anxiety.

To understand how plastic surgery influencers are using TikTok, we conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the most influential plastic surgeons on the platform. These plastic surgeons were identified using the number of followers on February 19th, 2021. Their five most recent posts were categorized as “educational,” if a condition or procedure was explained, “advertisement,” for any sponsored content, and “personal,” if the content was unrelated to plastic surgery. In addition, the anatomical location of the procedure or condition exhibited was identified along with the patient’s sex when determinable. Usage of unique TikTok features was also documented.

The results are displayed in Table 1. One female influencer ranked among the top 10. The influencers had, on average, 13 years of practice and all were American Board of Plastic Surgery–certified, except for those based outside the United States. Most plastic surgeons (90 percent) responded to patient comments with videos using TikTok’s functionality. Among the most recent posts, 76 percent were educational, 20 percent were personal, and 4 percent were advertisements. The most-liked post (496,600 likes) depicted a male patient undergoing an aesthetic abdominoplasty and the postoperative results.

Table 1. - Top Plastic Surgery Influencers and Most Recent Posts on TikTok as of February 19, 2021
Rank Influencer Username Sex Location Year Completed Residency No. Followers Total No. of Likes Duets Responds to Questions with Posts
#1 Dr. Daniel Aronov dr.danielaranov Male Melbourne, Australia n/a 8,000,000 128,300,000 No Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 18-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 130,100 2142
 2 18-Feb-21 Educational Female Abdomen 63,000 1235
 3 17-Feb-21 Educational Female Breast 237,300 3236
 4 16-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 74,800 772
 5 15-Feb-21 Educational Male Abdomen 496,600 17,200
#2 Dr. Richard Brown therealtiktokdoc Male Scottsdale, Ariz. 2009 4,700,000 84,400,000 Yes Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 18-Feb-21 Educational Female Buttock 7365 103
 2 17-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 10,300 175
 3 17-Feb-21 Educational Female Abdomen 125,400 1585
 4 16-Feb-21 Educational Male Abdomen 77,400 742
 5 16-Feb-21 Educational Male Hand 47,200 301
#3 Dr. Daniel Lanzer drlanzerandassociates Male Melbourne, Australia n/a 3,600,000 50,200,000 No Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 7-Feb-21 Educational Male Breast 181,900 2843
 2 28-Jan-21 Educational Female HEENT 113,800 1582
 3 28-Jan-21 Educational Male Breast 60,200 1625
 4 28-Jan-21 Educational Female Abdomen 114,600 2272
 5 27-Jan-21 Educational Male Abdomen 136,300 3237
#4 Dr. Anthony Youn tonyyounmd Male Detroit, Mich. 2004 2,900,000 101,000,000 Yes Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 19-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 29,200 273
 2 19-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 44,700 181
 3 18-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 263,300 2328
 4 18-Feb-21 Educational Female Breast 69,400 428
 5 18-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 57,600 317
#5 Dr. Daniel Barrett barrettplasticsurgery Male Beverly Hills, Calif. 2014 1,600,000 19,700,000 Yes Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 19-Feb-21 Educational n/a n/a 6984 136
 2 18-Feb-21 Educational Female Breast 14,100 92
 3 17-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 12,200 185
 4 16-Feb-21 Educational Female Buttock 7730 104
 5 15-Feb-21 Educational Female Abdomen 13,100 594
#6 Dr. Remus Repta drrepta_plasticsurgery Male Scottsdale, Ariz. 2008 868,500 11,400,000 No Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 16-Feb-21 Educational Female Buttock 6710 75
 2 18-Jan-21 Educational Male HEENT 5075 40
 3 11-Jan-21 Educational Female Breast 5148 64
 4 8-Jan-21 Educational Female Breast 6952 144
 5 6-Jan-21 Educational Female Abdomen 2970 20
#7 Dr. Catherine Huang-Begovic beautybydrcat Female Beverly Hills, Calif. 2010 555,100 3,200,000 No No
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 14-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 6167 14
 2 12-Feb-21 Advertisement n/a n/a 567 17
 3 6-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 3809 25
 4 5-Feb-21 Advertisement n/a n/a 836 13
 5 25-Jan-21 Educational Female Vagina 13,600 1037
#8 Dr. Hermes Pelayo drhermespelayo Male Tijuana, Mexico 2011 534,100 7,000,000 No Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 7-Feb-21 Educational Female Breast 883 28
 2 27-Jan-21 Educational Female Abdomen 4517 80
 3 18-Jan-21 Educational Female Abdomen 11,000 99
 4 12-Jan-21 Educational n/a HEENT 640 15
 5 21-Dec-20 Educational Female Back 8806 340
#9 Dr. Charles Lee drlee90210 Male Beverly Hills, CA 2003 506,700 11,700,000 Yes Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 19-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 3903 100
 2 18-Feb-21 Educational Female HEENT 4847 71
 3 16-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 1324 33
 4 16-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 1129 27
 5 14-Feb-21 Educational n/a n/a 4520 77
#10 Dr. Matthew Schulman realdrschulman Male New York, N.Y. 2006 492,400 15,000,000 Yes Yes
Recent posts Date Category Patient Sex Area of Body Likes Comments
 1 17-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 2464 22
 2 12-Feb-21 Educational n/a n/a 10,200 112
 3 11-Feb-21 Personal n/a n/a 4159 82
 4 10-Feb-21 Educational n/a n/a 133,900 1247
 5 9-Feb-21 Educational n/a n/a 3117 31
n/a, not applicable; HEENT, head, ears, eyes, nose, and throat.

Patients utilize social media to learn more about plastic surgery, and much of that is aesthetic surgery.2 Board-certified plastic surgeons have the opportunity (and obligation) to be leaders in this domain. We can rectify misinformation from providers with lesser training and credentialling, and offer educational content catered to patient needs, supporting the quality and safety of our practice.3 Improving the presence of educational content and perspectives from board-certified plastic surgeons on TikTok may improve patient experiences in plastic surgery.

REFERENCES

1. Vardanian AJ, Kusnezov N, Im DD, Lee JC, Jarrahy R. Social media use and impact on plastic surgery practice. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013;131:1184–1193.
2. Ross NA, Todd Q, Saedi N. Patient seeking behaviors and online personas: Social media’s role in cosmetic dermatology. Dermatol Surg. 2015;41:269–276.
3. Branford OA, Kamali P, Rohrich RJ, et al. #PlasticSurgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016;138:1354–1365.
4. Iqbal M. TikTok revenue and usage statistics. 2021Business of Apps. Available at: https://www.businessofapps.com/data/tik-tok-statistics/. Accessed February 19, 2021.

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