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Study Warns Against Non-Certified Plastic Surgeons On Social Media

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Look before clicking on posts that promote plastic surgeons on social media – many of them are not board-certified, and may end up doing more harm than good.

A new study by researchers at Northwestern Medicine have found that many of the practices currently advertising plastic surgery on Instagram and other social media platforms are not certified, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Some of the top posts on photo-sharing app Instagram were from dentists, spas and a hair salon offering their services. Dr. Clark Schierle, senior author on the study and a plastic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, said,

Sometimes, if things seem too good to be true, they just might be.

The study examined 21 specific hashtags that would refer to various cosmetic procedures. These included: #plasticsurgery, #facelift, #breastimplant, #boobjob, #liposuction and #brazilianbuttlift. The hashtags turned up 1.8 million posts, which the researchers filtered down to nine per hashtag.

Most of the photos were posted by foreign surgeons, followed by 26% who were dermatologists, gynecologists and general surgeons not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or any other countries’ organizations. Those who were certified posted 17.8% of the photos.

Licensed medical doctors can actually perform cosmetic surgeries, but the area of expertise varies according to doctor. Certified cosmetic surgeons undergo a one-year fellowship training and complete residency in a specific area of interest.

Schierle expressed concern that the non-certified posts are “drowning out” the more credible ones. It might not be such a bad thing, as other professionals might be getting their training elsewhere, but there is the issue of accountability.

To differentiate, cosmetic surgery is done to enhance a person’s features, while plastic surgery requires invasive operations. Doctors warn that patients do their due research first before agreeing to any procedures, especially if they turn out to be non-certified businesses.

The study was published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

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