Look for Licensed Providers

People searching for a plastic surgeon should look beyond social media, says a Northwestern University Study. Researchers from the university found that board-certified plastic surgeons posted only 17.8 percent of the 1.8 billion plastic surgery-related posts on Instagram.   

For Safety’s Sake

The researchers investigated 21 of the most popular hashtags related to plastic surgery, including #plasticsurgery, #facelift and #liposuction.

While board-certified plastic surgeons posted only 17.8 percent of content, the remaining 82.2 percent came from otolaryngologists, dermatologists, general practitioners, general surgeons and dentists, as well as salons, spas and aestheticians.


A significant portion of the Instagram posts selling plastic surgery procedures came from surgeons and physicians in other countries.

The study’s authors were alarmed by the results, because they mean a vast majority of individuals offering plastic surgery services are not licensed or properly trained to perform them.  

“Board-certified plastic surgeons have extensive training in plastic surgery procedures and are required to do continuing education and testing to keep up their license,” said Dr. Jack Peterson, M.D. “Experience and continuing education is not necessarily a requirement of other medical specialists who are performing these procedures.”

Some individuals performing plastic and cosmetic procedures may have less than a year of training and no surgical experience.

Board-certified plastic surgeons have six years of surgical experience, of which at least three years are in plastic surgery.

Peterson is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Topeka, Kansas, who stresses the importance of using a board-certified, licensed plastic surgeon.

Look for Licensing

Using an unlicensed and untrained provider leaves individuals at risk of serious complications, ruined results and even death.

“Many people do not realize that their provider lacks the proper experience or credentialing until too late,” Peterson said.

Individuals often seek out procedures from their general practitioner, dentist or their local spa because of convenience and price.

“It may be easier, cheaper or more convenient just to get that Botox injection while you are getting your teeth cleaned or your hair done, but injecting anything into the body requires a specific protocol for safety and success,” Peterson said.

Earlier this year, the UK newspaper The Sun reported that 30-year-old Siobhan Phelan almost lost her lip after receiving a discount dermal filler injection at a local salon. Phelan saw the offer for the service on social media and went in for the procedure with the hope of plumping her pout.

Phelan did end up with a bigger lip, but not exactly the result she wanted. The injection was misplaced into an artery, causing a blockage and extreme swelling. If left untreated, Phelan faced a risk of tissue death and loss of her lip.

Buyer Beware

Phelan’s situation is not an isolated incident.

A number of cases are reported each year across the United States in which patients experience extreme infections, disfigurement or even death because of plastic or cosmetic procedure performed by an unlicensed provider gone wrong.

In 2015, a Dallas, Texas, woman died as a result of complications of a low-cost Brazilian Butt Lift procedure performed at a salon at the hands of an unlicensed and untrained individual who injected the victim’s buttocks with home-repair-grade silicone caulk.

The caulk made its way to the victim’s bloodstream and traveled to the lungs, causing suffocation and death.

Some people also go to foreign countries for plastic and cosmetic procedures to save on costs or to undergo procedures that are banned in the U.S. Many of these procedures result in infection and complications.

“If the price of a procedure sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Peterson said.

Source: USA Today. Shopping for a plastic surgeon on Instagram? You could get botched. USA Today. 30 August 2017.