By: Sam Pondrom, JD, Associate at ByrdAdatto
When it comes to advertising, social media is the hot new trend. It’s cheap, has a far reach and the potential to lure in many new customers. But it can also cost you if you aren’t advertising yourself and your business accurately. (AmSpa members can check their state legal summary, or utilize their annual compliance consultation with the business, healthcare, and aesthetic law firm of ByrdAdatto for more information on medical spa law.)
Social media marketing is being embraced across industries because of its cost-effective, direct-access marketing to potential consumers. An additional bonus to social media marketing is its self-selecting nature, which allows social media users to seek out the advertising themselves, making them more receptive to the messages. But when it comes to using social media marketing to select a plastic surgeon for treatment, it is important that social media users still perform their due diligence to ensure the advertisements are posted by board-certified, credentialed plastic surgeons.
A report recently published by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal examined all of the plastic surgery related advertisements posted to Instagram on a single day—January 9, 2017—to assess who was publishing the social media content. The Journal found that there were about 1.79 million Instagram posts on that day that included at least one plastic surgery-related hashtag, like #plasticsurgery, #plasticsurgeon, #breastlift, #liposuction, or #brazilianbuttlift (hashtags categorize content and clicking on a hashtag retrieves similar content; they are functionally a search for similar content). The Journal then evaluated the content of the top nine posts (top posts are those with the most engagement) in 21 plastic surgery related hashtags
The Journal also found that only 17.8% of the top posts for these hashtags came from board-certified plastic surgeons. Another 26.4% came from physicians that did not have specialized plastic surgery training, and another 5.5% of the top posts came from persons who were not physicians at all, including dentists, medical spas with no physician/medical director, and even one hair salon. The Journal also found that the majority of the posts were self-promotional (67.1%), rather than educational (32.9%), and that board-certified plastic surgeons were much more likely to post educational content than non-plastic surgeons (62.1% versus 38.1%, respectively).
This is particularly troubling because of social media’s reach and influence on young people, who now make up a large sector of the plastic surgery population in our country. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that in 2014, nearly 64,000 cosmetic surgery patients were aged 13 – 19 and industry experts believe this number increases every year. Moreover, in 2016, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery polled its members and more than half of the respondents reported an increase in cosmetic procedures in patients under age 30 in 2016. 42% of respondents also reported that their clients were at least partially motivated to seek plastic surgery because of a desire to look better in selfies posted to Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms.
This means that social media users should research potential surgeons beyond their social media presence, and users wanting plastic surgery should seek out a board-certified plastic surgeon. Board-certified plastic surgeons are doctors with more than six years of surgical training and experience, at least three of which are specifically in plastic surgery. Moreover, social media users should move beyond Instagram and meet with the surgeon in person to obtain information like how many surgeries the surgeon has performed, what recover times are, and whether the patient is a good candidate for the surgery.
There are many resources to verify whether a physician is a board-certified plastic surgeon, including the American Board of Plastic Surgery’s website that lists physicians’ credentials, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery that maintains a searchable database of board-certified physicians, and the America Society of Plastic Surgeons that allows a person to search for board-certified plastic surgeons by location.
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As the youngest of three brothers, Sam Pondrom learned early on how to work effectively as part of a team. After graduating from Oklahoma State, an intrinsic sense of curiosity and a keen eye for details led Sam to work as an accountant for two Engineering-News Record top 40 construction firms. It was here where he honed his ability to analyze complex issues and craft clear, concise answers. Sam utilizes these skills to work in partnership with our clients to resolve their complex business and regulatory concerns in the most simple, straightforward way.