Celebrity doctors have been around for a while. But doctors filming themselves performing a procedure live on their phones for anyone to see is definitely a new thing. Though it may sound shocking, a growing number of plastic surgeons have built up quite a following on Snapchat by filming their surgeries in full graphic detail.
The question to ask now is whether or not filming these live broadcasts of surgical procedures on Snapchat is a good thing, or if it’s simply unethical. We asked several top plastic surgeons about their thoughts on this topic and for their predictions of the future of Snapchat in plastic surgery.
The Trend in Live Plastic Surgery on Snapchat
Plastic surgery procedures used to just be between the doctor and the patient. Nowadays, patients consent to getting their surgery broadcasted live on Snapchat and seen by thousands of followers. Some patients even request that their surgeon give viewers their Snapchat usernames and a shout out to a loved one.
One surgeon in particular, Dr. Matthew Schulman, is at the forefront of the plastic surgery Snapchat trend. He gives excellent insight into why people are watching and the effects of Snapchatting.
Dr. Schulman says he has several hundred thousand followers on the social media app, according to Fox News, and that about 90% of patients consent to their surgeries being broadcasted on Snapchat. Schulman also says that about 80 to 85% of people who come into his practice for a consultation follow him on Snapchat. He started using Snapchat after Instagram began taking down images from his account.
According to Refinery29, people who watch Schulman’s Snapchats include those interested in getting plastic surgery, people in the medical field and other viewers who are fascinated by the gory clips. Dr. Schulman says that he receives good questions about plastic surgery and that people watch him and his staff each day like a soap opera.
Experts Answer: Is Snapchatting Live Surgical Procedures a Good Thing?
While this new trend is certainly growing, should plastic surgeons jump on the bandwagon and start using Snapchat? Or is Snapchatting these surgeries having a negative impact on the industry and, even more importantly, patients? Dr. Adams spoke to four top plastic surgeons on NO Spin Live from The Plastic Surgery Channel and asked for their thoughts about broadcasting live plastic surgery procedures on Snapchat.
Daniel DelVecchio, MD: “Clearly we are seeing people who are violating ethical standards: showing pictures of surgery, writing on patients during surgery. This [Snapchat content] is inappropriate. When you are in the operating room, you should be one thousand percent focused on doing the operation. If you are entertaining people on Snapchat, that is unethical.”
Ashley Gordon, MD: “I think that the people who are [Snapchatting] a lot are those who are trying to use it as a marketing [channel] for surgeons who aren’t that busy. They are trying to generate and get more patients [through Snapchat]. I agree with Dan: you need to be focused on the patient and the surgery you are doing [in the operating room], not [asking about your Snapchat videos with questions like,] “Did you get that shot?” and “How does it look?”
Mark Epstein, MD: “I think there’s a difference between putting an instructional video for patient education purposes on your website and being a showman on the Internet. So I have a great reservation about the real purpose of this other than as a marketing tool.“
Dustin Reid, MD: “The thoughtful surgeon needs to decide whether they want to be a video star or a good surgeon. Even if the patient consents, I don’t think they recognize what they are consenting to. It is an invasion of their privacy whether they know it or not when they consent [to being filmed on Snapchat]. And our society will probably ultimately have to get involved and give guidelines on using this type of video.”
While the Snapchat trend continues to grow, it’s important that we protect patients and create ethical standards when using social media. The last thing we want is for plastic surgeons to think of their procedures as a source of entertainment and marketing rather than a serious and life-changing surgery. Keep an eye on our video gallery for more educational insight on the latest plastic surgery trends!