Unintended Consequences: The Social Side of Plastic Surgery Marketing

Young woman taking a selfie of herself on a smartphone Thank you Facebook! The American Academy of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) should send a warm note of appreciation to FB founder Mark Zuckerberg. The reason? The organization’s board-certified plastic surgeons are seeing a big jump in patient requests for facial procedures–because people want to look their best on social media.

We don’t know if Mr. Zuckerberg planned it that way; maybe it’s an unintended consequence. But the AAFPRS regularly tracks and reports industry trends, and, perhaps not surprisingly, member surgeons report a 31 percent increase in patient requests linked to appearance on their social media accounts.

With a tip of our hat to Healthcare Success Associate Creative Director Simona Ramos for the research, TIME (and several other media sources) reports spikes in cosmetic surgery requests in recent years: “Social media is all about seeing and being seen, so it’s not surprising that the ubiquity and frequency of posts are fueling our vanity.”

Elective procedures have been trending upward, with breast augmentation being the most common cosmetic option. Other procedures include botox treatments, upper-arm lifts, rhinoplasty and facelifts.

Social media is a visual world…

Facebook isn’t the only outlet for selfies, profile pics and friendly videos. But with over 1.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the world’s largest people-to-people online platform. I don’t know who has time to tabulate these kind of numbers, but about 1 trillion photos are taken each year. That would include a boatload of self-portraits…300 million or so are Instagram pics, for example.

Vanity? Narcissism? Or just the human species with the technical wherewithal (and curiosity) to cross-connect around the globe? Research continues on those questions, but two things seem evident for plastic and cosmetic surgeons.

First, social media—facilitated by nearly universal availability of smartphones and the Internet—is a personal forum where appearance is a significant value. And, second, from a marketing perspective, social media is a pervasive media for building communities, engaging with image and appearance conscious people, and prospectively attracting elective plastic surgery cases. In addition, social media advertising, including Facebook ads, may be a useful consideration.

A successful plastic surgery marketing strategy has many moving parts. (Let us know if you’d like our assistance with that.) But research confirms that social media is a useful connecting point for plastic and cosmetic elective care.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Related: Cosmetic Surgery Marketing & Cosmetic Surgery Web Design


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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