American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

The prevalence of TikTok and its impact on plastic surgery procedures

the impact of tiktok on plastic surgery procedures

In today's digital age, the prevalence of social media is undeniable. From beginning as an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family to becoming a constant source of entertainment to being our go-to place to find the latest breaking news, we're constantly connected to the world around us through social media – and its influence is still growing to this day.

The influence of social media has also spread to the world of plastic surgery, with everyone from patients to surgeons to researchers actively participating in or observing what is happening around the world via their favorite social channels. One such platform that has seen a meteoric rise in influence within the specialty of plastic surgery in the past several years is TikTok.

Once seen as a platform for teens to post dance videos or showcase a daily outfit, TikTok has quickly become a leading source of information – and misinformation – for individuals around the world who are interested in learning more about plastic surgery.

As we seek to learn more about the influence of TikTok and how it is effectively helping to shape the future of plastic surgery, we've reached out to ASPS Member Surgeons Smita Ramanadham, MD, and Kelly Killeen, MD, to get their insights.

The correlation between TikTok and plastic surgery trends

Social media, and TikTok specifically, have contributed to the specialty of plastic surgery and procedural trends. There are a few key ways we can see a direct impact. Plastic surgeons can note changes in public perception around social media, see shifts in demographics and note particular procedures that are trending.

"First, the overall popularity of procedures is increasing," said Ramanadham. "Social media is making plastic surgery more acceptable and helping to get rid of some of the negative stigma traditionally associated with it. Additionally, the demographic is changing with younger patients looking into various procedures and thinking about plastic surgery, especially nonsurgical as part of their overall wellness. Finally, we see a direct relationship between procedures that are trending on TikTok and what patients are coming to the office for."

Social media platforms like TikTok are driving the popularity of plastic surgery overall, but certain procedures have benefitted specifically from social media trends.

"I think social media has really driven interest in multiple procedures," said Killeen. "Buccal fat has really had its moment on social media, as has jaw filler, breast reduction and BBLs."

The positive and negative impacts of social media

When thinking about how social media has changed the field of plastic surgery, there are plenty of pros and cons to consider

"There are many positive aspects," said Ramanadham. "Plastic surgery is more acceptable and accessible. There is an improvement in the negative stigma historically associated with it. Patients are now approaching plastic surgery as a means to address issues they have always had but thought they had to live with."

Less of a negative stigma around pursuing plastic surgery and greater dissemination of information has been shown to have a positive impact on the specialty.

"I think it's wonderful for patients to have access to information and prepare for their consults," said Killeen. "It's also great that they can have information from a patient's perspective since so many people post about their surgery and are open about the process."

While social media has had a positive impact on plastic surgery, there are also potential dangers that come along with it.

"There is definitely greater access to information, but one must be careful as to who that information is coming from," said Ramanadham. "Unfortunately, the majority of plastic surgery information on social [media] is not from plastic surgeons."

On top of the wide variety of information available on social media, there is also the risk of manipulation, whether through misinformation or altering photos.

"Unfortunately, there are people who use social media to manipulate patients and drive business," said Killeen. "We see that with some of the implant removal surgeons who call themselves 'en bloc experts.' We also see too many examples of poorly done or misleading before and afters that give patients an unrealistic idea of what surgery can do."

Additionally, as social media is all about driving clicks and engagement, we tend to see a lot of extreme plastic surgery procedures, negative results and considerable image manipulation trending on TikTok.

"Social media can also contribute to unrealistic expectations of what plastic surgery can do and what normal and good results are due to the use of Photoshop and posting edited before and after photos," said Ramanadham.

Navigating plastic surgery in the world of social media

It can be easy to become overwhelmed or to fall into the trap of misinformation with so much information available on social media. Here are some recommendations from our experts to help you effectively navigate this vast digital world.

Keep an eye on where any information is coming from

With social media, information is so often hitting you from every single angle that it's hard to determine what is true and what is false.

"I would recommend that patients be cognizant of who the information is coming from," said Ramanadham. "They should specifically look for board-certified plastic surgeons, they should look at before and after photos with a discerning eye and they should trust and like their surgeon."

Don't fall victim to scare tactics

Many accounts on TikTok and other social media platforms emphasize the negative results you can get from the wrong plastic surgery procedures or surgeons rather than the positive impacts they can have. This is often done as a tactic to promote their practice specifically, suggesting that the only way to achieve the desired results without negative implications is through their office.

"Be mindful of accounts that imply you can't get good care other than with them or seem to be scaring you into their office," said Killeen. "That is a huge red flag."

Seek out authenticity

It's so easy to get caught up in endless filters and sales tactics when navigating social media. Instead of seeking out surgeons that look or sound the best on TikTok, try to find one that is genuine, informative and connects to you as a patient.

"Surgeons should be authentic on social media, which will help patients have a connection with their surgeon," said Ramanadham.

If you're unsure of the information you're seeing on social media, it doesn't hurt to ask a trusted surgeon for their advice.

"Also, remember that your best resource is your plastic surgeon who knows you," said Killeen. "If you find different info on social media, discuss that with your surgeon before making changes."

Maintain high standards for yourself and others

Don't get caught up in the latest trending plastic surgeon or influencer if it compromises the standards that you hold for yourself. Instead, look for accurate information and real before and after images to keep yourself informed.

"Social media is a wonderful tool for plastic surgeons to disseminate good information to our patients," said Killeen. "I think we all should be using it so that our patients get the best possible info to make decisions for their bodies. We should hold ourselves to the highest standards and do our best to give evidenced-based information and accurate before and after photos."

Using social media on your plastic surgery journey

There's no denying that social media is here to stay and will continue to make a significant impact on our lives, including in the specialty of plastic surgery. Set yourself up to successfully navigate this new digital world by staying mindful, keeping a close eye out for misinformation, trusting well-informed sources and working with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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