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The Marriage of Plastic Surgery and Social Media: A Relationship to Last a Lifetime

Steven M. Camp MD, Daniel C. Mills II MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1090820X12439862 349-351 First published online: 1 March 2012

The World Wide Web has evolved into a global network linking more people, businesses, and institutions than any other single communication channel.1 It is an expansive tool with seemingly endless implications for the modern plastic surgery practice. The ease with which ideas can be exchanged through the Internet will undoubtedly continue to alter how we conduct the business aspects of our practices and the process by which patients make choices about the services we provide. In a recent study, Walden et al2 demonstrated the power of the Internet in influencing patients’ choices regarding breast augmentation. They reported that more than half of patients began their search for information about the procedure via Web searches: 41% with Google, 18% with a breast augmentation portal website (such as http://loveyourlook.com), and 11% with a plastic surgeon’s website. Only 10% first consulted with a plastic surgeon.

Recognizing the vast power of the Internet, many plastic surgeons have developed practice websites to offer prospective patients information about their credentials, practice philosophy and facilities, and basic questions-and-answers about procedures. Yet most plastic surgery websites are static, rather than interactive, at a time when modern consumers have grown to expect a high degree of online interactivity. This expectation is evident in the increasing popularity of social networking and “social media.”

The term social media includes many individual Internet applications that provide different but complementary functions. Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google +, Yelp, and Realself are examples of social media or “social networking sites.” With Facebook boasting 750 million active registrants and Twitter claiming 175 million, there is obviously widespread and continued growth in this arena. As experience with social media outlets has increased, the applications for plastic surgery have grown far beyond personal communications. Plastic surgeons are entering this nontraditional marketing space in increasing numbers not …

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