It has become a growing trend for aesthetic experts to project themselves on social media. Be it Instagram, YouTube or Facebook, more and more expert accounts are gaining popularity. On the one hand this is a good thing, as it empowers patients to empower themselves with knowledge on their proposed procedure. However, on the other hand, oftentimes these ‘experts’ have little to no training and might be putting patients in danger. Let us look at some of the dangers posed by social media in the world of aesthetics and how you can stay stay safe.
Social media revolutionized the internet simply because of its ease of access and two way communication. Previously, websites were difficult to make and maintain and all communication was one way. With social media, websites can be bypassed for easy to maintain profiles. Moreover social media ensures two way communications where providers can interact with consumers. Content can regularly be made and shared. The biggest advantage of this is that patients can educate themselves about procedures and be better empowered to take decisions.
However on the flip side, anyone can create a social media account. This means that there is no verification of credentials, opening the door for untrained individuals to mislead patients. The skills required to be successful in social media are different from the skills required to be a good aesthetic physician or surgeon. Hence someone who looks impressive on social media might not necessarily be a good practitioner. The bigger problems with social media can be summarized as follows
- Expertise- The person might not be be adequately trained or qualified
- Experience- The person might not be as popular as they portray
- Ethics- The person might not be working in the patients interests
Social Media and Expertise
On facebook, or Instagram it is impossible to make out if a person is actually qualified or not. The area where this issue is rampant is in the field of dermatology and plastic surgery. There is no dearth of so called ‘aestheticians’ and ‘cosmetic surgeons’. Even though these are not recognized medical degrees. The only degrees recognized by the medical council of India are MD/ DVD/ DNB in dermatology and MCH/ DNB in plastic surgery. Only plastic surgeons are allowed to perform cosmetic surgeries. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons are allowed to perform hair transplant and aesthetic procedures.
Social media and experience
Another unfortunate trend on social media is that it is very easy for a person to portray themselves as having a large following. This is usually done by buying fake followers, likes and comments. And often it might be impossible to differentiate a real profile from a fake profile. And you might end by getting treated by an inexperienced person! Some ways to determine if a profile is real is to check their engagement with their number of followers. Some red flags include
- Very few posts but a huge number of followers
- Very few likes and comments with a large number of followers
Social media and ethics
As there are very few rules about social media, there are several unethical practices being followed such as
- Patient photos being posted without consent
- Other surgeons work being shared, claiming it to be your own
- Live videos being shared during surgery
- Graphic gory images being shared
All of these practices should be avoided
How can I be safe?
The obvious question then arises is how can you be safe while evaluating a potential doctor. Here are some things you can do
- Verify your doctors credentials- make sure they are properly trained and qualified
- Don’t rely only on social media. Also use other resources like website, google business etc
- Evaluate their account to see if their profile is real or fake
- Check their social media feed for anything that makes you uncomfortable
In an ever changing technological world, every new advance brings both oppurtunities and challenges. It is upto us to educate ourselves and use it for good