Summary: There’s been a recent surge (no pun intended) in surgeons using SnapChat during procedures. This raises a few interesting questions about why surgeons are suddenly using this new social media app—and how that might benefit the patient in these particular circumstances. It all started with one doc in Miami.
More Plastic Surgeons Using SnapChat
Perhaps due to the surge in popularity “Dr. Miami” is enjoying, more and more surgeons seem to be embracing the use of social media app SnapChat. For those of you who don’t know, SnapChat is a service that functions like a self-destructing message. You can send pictures, text, or a combination of the two to anyone; the images have an expiration date, however, as they are automatically deleted after a set period of time. It’s one of the next big things in social media (it’s probably what your kids are using; although, by the time you start using it your kids have moved on to something else).
To be fair, social media has had a pretty cozy relationship with plastic surgery since it hit the scene with Facebook. You can find plastic surgery reviews on Twitter and Tumblr and all kinds of plastic surgery social media assets on Pinterest. Of course, there’s the way that Instagram can encourage people to pursue plastic surgery as well. The fact of the matter is that our photos are so much more public today than they ever used to be—and that alone is enough to get people to call up their local plastic surgeon.
What’s Different About SnapChat?
There’s a rule with the internet that once you post something, it’s never coming down. Even if you delete your post, it’s going to live on somewhere—maybe as a screen-capture, maybe as image—who knows? SnapChat offers users the illusion of the opposite; rather than risking the message or image falling into the wrong hands, the image or message is deleted automatically. Therefore, SnapChat seems like a great way to send images or messages you want kept private. Of course, as have learned about the internet, not everything you think is private is actually, well, private.
It turns out that SnapChat doesn’t delete every trace of the image or message that is sent. There are still ways to get that information; and some of those ways aren’t particularly difficult. After all, SnapChat is designed to be a fun activity, not necessarily a highly encrypted spy-app. So you should certainly take the “privacy” of SnapChat messages with a grain of salt. It’s completely possible that someone will be able to retrieve those messages or images. Maybe it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible. So, with so many social media options, why are surgeons suddenly interested in SnapChat?
Use What Your Patients Are Using
Part of the reason that plastic surgeons are interested in SnapChat is relatively self-evident: they want to use what their patients are using. It’s important for surgeons to be able to meet their patients where they are, more or less. This means adopting whatever social platforms patients tend to be embracing. Additionally, because SnapChat is such an image-heavy platform, it encourages people to look at themselves in a new light (often wanting to change this or that afterwards). Even if those images go away, people still have a notion that they’d like to change their nose, for example.
But what about SnapChatting the actual plastic surgery? That’s what got “Dr. Miami” famous. I’m not entirely sure that other plastic surgeons are trying to recreate that fame; though, some of them certainly all. But I think one thing Dr. Miami has shown is that there is a desire for more information—more images—of surgery broadly. People want to know what’s going to happen to them, how and why. And they might like to watch in real time, too. By doing this though SnapChat, you have a certain amount of control over what gets shown and to whom. Not every patient wants that kind of transparency, but for those who do, this SnapChat phenomenon is a great way to get it.
The Changing Face of Plastic Surgery
Every once in a while, plastic surgery goes through a facelift of its own. This trend towards SnapChat may be part of that: plastic surgery becoming more transparent (not that it hasn’t been transparent thus far; you can easily YouTube any procedure to see how it’s done… perhaps this is just transparency in a new way). In any case, plastic surgeons In New Jersey and Florida and Washington are all finding ways to incorporate new technology into their procedures in order to improve outcomes.
I suppose we shouldn’t be that surprised that one of those new technologies—at least for some surgeons—turns out to be social media.