Summary: Transparency is a vital component of the cosmetic plastic surgery process. Some surgeons, including some plastic surgeons in Minneapolis, have the word all of their websites and an abundant amount of information about every procedure. No one is trying to hide anything. But then there’s this plastic surgeon in in Miami who uses Twitter and SnapChat to keep his followers up to date on every detail of every procedure. Is this too much information, or just another step on the road to transparency? The answer may not be as straightforward as it first appears.

snapchat plastic surgery

The SnapChat Plastic Surgery Procedure

We’ve written pretty extensively about the ways in which social media influences plastic surgery choices. Maybe you’ve taken some selfies of yourself and you notice that some of those lines and wrinkles are deepening (especially compared to previous images of yourself) and so you decide that, rather than let that process continue, you’re going to do something about it and get a cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure performed. That kind of thing isn’t altogether uncommon. Nor is it uncommon for plastic surgery candidates to use Instagram filters as a way of previewing their plastic surgery procedures (or at least to become inspired by the procedure).

But there’s also another side to the way social media is changing plastic surgery procedures, and that’s from the inside. According to a new article published in Business Insider, there’s one plastic surgeon featured who some of his practice’s surgeries on the social media app SnapChat. For those of you who don’t know, SnapChat is a social media platform in which you can send out messages to your followers, but those messages are deleted after a specified time limit. In other words, those you send the message to have only a short amount of time to view the message before it, more or less, self-destructs.

Transparency vs TMI

The beauty of SnapChat, then, is that it provides the illusion of security for these messages (I say “illusion” because SnapChat holds on to all of these images you’re sending). I would assume that the surgeon who uses this method gets permission from all of his patients to send such images. And rather than get into the nitty gritty on that particular issue, I thought it might be more useful to discuss this in broader contexts. That is, do you want to know about your plastic surgery experience? Or would you rather keep your knowledge focused squarely on the before and after?

This is a common question in plastic surgery. Almost all patients love seeing the before and after—they want to envision how they’re going to achieve their desired results. But the human body can be kind of… gross. We’re not used to thinking about the insides of the human body in any kind of flattering terms. And there are many plastic surgery procedures that require deep incisions and, therefore, quite a bit of blood and bleeding management. This can be particularly troubling for some who want to see the plastic surgery procedures.

Plastic Surgery and Social Media

So, of course, all of this has to be balanced with the need for transparency. Patients need to know precisely what is going to happen to them while they’re on the operating table or before they undergo any procedure (even something that seems quite simple, such as Botox injections). But there’s a difference between knowing what’s going to happen to you—and know what the pain will be like on the other end of everything—and seeing it happen to someone else. Of course, you could easily make the argument that seeing is believing—that the only way to truly convey precisely what’s involved in plastic surgery is through some kind of visual medium.

It’s interesting to think about how much this might affect the number of candidates who elect to go through with their procedures. Ideally, seeing the procedure taking place would not dissuade anyone from undergoing that procedure—but that’s not always the way it works. So, then, do plastic surgeons have an obligation to provide video of plastic surgery procedures so that potential candidates see exactly what is going to happen?

Make Sure to Make Your Preferences Known

I’m not sure—and in some ways, I could go either way. Certainly, it’s not as though any other surgeons are held to that standard. How many people, for example, might abstain from life-saving plastic surgery because they’re forced to watch a video of that procedure before going under the knife. You could certainly ask the question, why should cosmetic plastic surgery be held to a different or higher standard? And that’s a compelling argument. It’s true that with cosmetic plastic surgery, lives may not be at stake—but that doesn’t mean the stakes and the outcome should be treated as trivial.

Ultimately, I tend to think that such decisions should rest in the hands of the patients and of the surgeons. Therefore, if surgeons want to live Tweet an operation or SnapChat every stage of a procedure (assuming their focus should not be elsewhere), I don’t find anything necessarily objectionable about that. Nor do I find it objectionable that some surgeons choose not to do that. It’s up to the patient to decide on a preference—and, of course, to insist on transparency at every level.