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Millennials and Plastic Surgery

These days, one of the fastest growing segments of the cosmetic surgery population is millennials. Reportedly, millennials actually represent about 20% of people who undergo plastic surgery, a number that continues to grow day-by-day. And, as you might expect, a demographic of people born and raised using social media are apt to use social media when it comes to plastic surgery, too. In early 2016, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery announced that in 2015, 64% of member facial plastic surgeons saw an increase in cosmetic surgery in patients under age 30. Dr. Edwin Williams III, president of the AAFPRS, notes that the “selfie” phenomenon as well as the increasing prevalence of shared plastic surgery photos on social media has made cosmetic tweaks less taboo.

Social media isn’t only used by millennials, though: Plastic surgeons throughout the country are signing up for Instagram accounts or launching new blogs. In fact, social media makes a lot of sense for plastic surgeons who want to reveal that aesthetic procedures are normal, important, and common. Social media can also function as an information-sharing tool: New Jersey plastic surgery office East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery hosts informative Facebook, Twitter, and blog pages with interesting articles about what procedures are, who needs them, and how to know if you’re a good candidate for the procedure you want. This type of information sharing leads to happier, healthier, and more informed patients.

Whether it’s for surgical or nonsurgical procedures, aesthetic procedures like facial peels, Botox, Juvederm, and other injectable treatments are on the rise, sometimes inspired by photos that millennials see on Facebook or Instagram. However, in the last few weeks, the focus has transitioned from traditional platforms like Facebook or Twitter to Snapchat, the ten-second video and photo-sharing app. Rather than simply posting information, a New York plastic surgeon has become famous for taking his phone behind-the-scenes into the operating room to share the details of what it’s like to undergo cosmetic procedures.

Surgeons Who Snapchat

Dr. Mark Shulman brings his camera with him as he washes his hands before operation, and sometimes into the operating room itself (with the patients’ permission, of course). He tells CBS2 that the people who watch his Snapchats, quick videos available for up to ten seconds, are from one of two audiences: “I have people either just interested in plastic surgery and they are viewing it essentially as a reality television show. Then I have people interested in plastic surgery and researching,” Schulman told CBS2.

According to his patients, although the surgeries can be graphic, showing them can help demystify the procedure, whether it’s a laser peel or a breast implant. One female patient agreed to have her liposuction and butt-lift Snapchatted, but will still remain anonymous. Yet another patient said that seeing other people undergo the procedure gave her the courage to go through with it herself: After witnessing what exactly would happen, she felt more confident about moving forward: “I don’t think if I hadn’t seen all those things, that I would have had the guts to go through with it,” she said. “It kind of gave me that spark that I needed to say, OK, all these other women in the world are doing it. Why not me? Why not try?”

Schulman doesn’t just stop with Snapchat, though: In late May, he even live-streamed the first ever plastic surgery from both Snapchat and Facebook, His patient, Matthew Diaz, consented to let Schulman broadcast Diaz’s back and chest reduction, undergone after losing nearly 300 pounds.

As a marketing tool, Schulman has said that he believes more coverage results in increased clientele: 80% of his clients follow him on Snapchat.

The Future of Social Media and Plastic Surgery

Schulman’s case is proof that there are willing participants who see photos of cosmetic procedures on social media, and feel more comfortable discussing or undergoing it themselves. James Zins, MD, Chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Cleveland Clinic, says that social media is simply an easier way to do what patients have always done: “Patients have always brought in pictures of themselves and we encourage them to do that,” Dr. Zins says. “But technology has now made that easier. Perception is reality and we want to make sure we address what the patient is concerned about.”

On the other hand, critics of the newly social surgery broadcasts say that it’s stepping over the line of privacy, that medical operations shouldn’t be publicized for the sake of their patients. Is it possible to be too public about what goes on behind-the-scenes? Some certainly think so.

Whether or not social media will continue to fuel growth in plastic surgery remains to be seen, and it’s by no means a permanent fixture in marketing strategies. However, platforms like Snapchat have indeed served to expand the conversation for potential patients and for surgeons, making surgeries like breast augmentations or butt-lifts less taboo than they’re often considered.

What do you think? Is Snapchatting a social media procedure too public, or is it a necessary means of communication? Leave a comment in the section below, anytime!

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