Plastic surgeons work hard to make people more beautiful, but some colleagues believe a few are creating an unflattering spectacle on social media.
On Snapchat, Instagram and other social channels, docs can be seen in costumes, dancing to music and even flaunting removed body tissues, sometimes all during a live-streamed surgery.
Many of the Instagram posts in question, which Outliers doesn't feel comfortable reproducing in this column, are graphic before/after images of plastic surgery that could be deemed of dubious taste and would seem to violate the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' call for using "respectful language and images" in communications.
One post that caused an uproar featured Dr. Scott M. Blyer (DrBFixin on social media) cradling an abdominal tummy tuck specimen in his arms like a baby and then using a Snapchat filter to put an infant's face on it. Dr. Michael Salzhauer (therealdrmiami on social media) has also come in for criticism.
"This is inappropriate handling of human tissue for entertainment purposes," said Dr. Clark Schierle, a plastic surgeon and faculty member of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "There is increasingly vulgar content by a growing number of plastic surgeons that is not in the best interest of the patient."
To combat this, the first ethical code of behavior for sharing plastic surgery videos on social media was proposed by Northwestern Medicine authors and published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery on Sept. 28 and presented Oct. 6 at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting. No vote was taken at the meeting. "We have to find boundaries we can all agree on as a society that provide a framework for proper ethical behavior in the setting of patient care," Schierle said.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has had a set of ethics guidelines since 2012 that stipulate that any advertising done by a surgeon must be truthful, and any communications about patients should "strive to use accurate and respectful language and images."