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Patients use social media to make surgery decisions


Alexandria, Va. — Last year, more patients sought out social networking sites — rather than friends — for advice and information on facial plastic surgery before choosing a procedure, a new survey suggests.

A survey conducted by the Alexandria-based American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed that 42 percent of patients receive most of their information about plastic surgery from social media, as compared with 2010’s 29 percent, MSNBC.com reports. Meanwhile, the percentage of patients who obtained information from friends fell to 48 percent, from 63 percent the previous year.

The majority of surgeons surveyed also reported that 70 percent of their patients request procedures by describing the area of concern rather than requesting a specific product or procedure by name.

MSNBC.com reports that AAFPRS President Tom D. Wang, M.D., issued a cautionary note, saying, “We are encouraged by the possibilities that Facebook, Twitter and other social channels offer for prospective patients, but urge all patients to exercise caution in researching facial plastic procedures to ensure information is from a reliable source. There’s a great deal of misinformation out there, and the best way to circumvent that is to consult an AAFPRS physician who is qualified, experienced and trained in performing facial plastic procedures.”

The survey also revealed that for the third consecutive year, women outranked men in every category for both surgical and nonsurgical procedures — with the exception of hair transplants — and that age played a role in surgery selection. According to the survey, women under age 35 opted for less invasive procedures, but the numbers for certain procedures decreased from the previous year. The most common nonsurgical procedures for women under age 35 were Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) injections, hyaluronic acid injections, chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

Rhinoplasty continued to be the most common surgical procedure performed on both women and men under age 35.

While more patients appear to be obtaining their plastic surgery information from social media, only 14 percent of surgeons in 2011 said they saw an increase in requests for “celebrity procedures,” such as Angelina Jolie-esque lips. Surgeons also reported that patients are split in their concerns regarding results and cost when making the decision to undergo facial plastic surgery.

The survey’s full results are posted on the AAFPRS website.

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