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Social media sites have become such an important, influential and essential part of the daily lives of countless millions of people. They can manipulate the information, facts and photos that we see or read resulting in significantly influencing our opinions and affecting the choices that we make. Unfortunately, one of the areas that has been strongly impacted by this has been cosmetic surgery.

And the consequences of being duped into believing that the doctor who you have chosen for your cosmetic surgery is far better, trained, skilled, knowledgeable and ethical than he or she truly is can be quite bad or even disastrous. There are stories all the time in the news about people who have been permanently scarred and disfigured or, even worse, who have died from substandard care.

Many physicians will use terminology or deception to make you think that they are board certified plastic surgeons or an “equivalent” when, in fact, they may be instead anesthesiologists, obstetricians or even cardiologists whose area of training is far different from the realm of plastic surgery.

Some will actually substantially alter (“Photoshop”) their own photos in order to “improve” the outcomes and modify or remove deficiencies to make the results appear acceptable, attractive or changed from their pre-procedure state. There are even practitioners who resort to copying real patient photos from the websites of board certified plastic surgeons and then claim them as their own work in order to appear skilled so as to attract patients.

Instagram is one website where this deception and lack of clarity can be a major issue. A recent study by a researchers at Northwestern University revealed that the vast majority of those who advertise their cosmetic surgery services on this site were not board certified plastic surgeons. In fact, less than 18% of all the postings marketing aesthetic surgery services were actually legitimate plastic surgeons. There were actually dentists, barbers and even hair salons hawking these services. Further compounding the problem was the fact that their postings were far more catchy, aggressive and obvious versus the more sedate ones of true plastic surgeons.

So the moral here is “buyer beware”. Don’t be persuaded or fooled by slick ads or alluring photos into making a foolish decision without doing your due diligence.


Make sure that at minimum the person that you ultimately select to do your cosmetic surgery is a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Of course, this still is no guarantee of results. You should also check patient reviews, try to get references from friends or even your primary care doctor and look at a variety of their photos with a discriminating eye.

And finally – after meeting meet with your potential plastic surgeon, make sure that you are comfortable with him or her on all levels. You should strongly feel that they have you own interests at heart rather than seeing you as a source of additional revenue.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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