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How do patients perceive aesthetic providers on social media?


AT ASDS 2022

The top three social media platforms used by patients who seek aesthetic medical treatments in the United States are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. However, in a recent survey, when asked if an aesthetic medical provider’s social media presence positively affects their desire to see that provider, 48% of patients were neutral or had no opinion, while 41% indicated yes.

Social media icons Gerd Altmann/pixabay

Those are key findings from the survey, which aimed to evaluate the social media preferences and perceptions of patients who undergo aesthetic procedures.

“Aesthetic providers have firmly established a presence on social media,” Morgan Murphrey, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, where she presented the results. “According to the dermatology literature, somewhere between 25% and 50% of patients are looking up aesthetic providers on social media before they even see them in the clinic. This raises the question: How do patients perceive aesthetic providers that are on social media, and what do they want to see on their professional accounts?”

Dr. Morgan Murphrey, chief resident, University of California, Davis department of dermatology

Dr. Morgan Murphrey

To find out, Dr. Murphrey, chief dermatology resident at the University of California, Davis, and Sabrina Fabi, MD, a San Diego–based cosmetic dermatologist, used Survey Monkey to randomly survey 2,063 individuals in the United States. They used descriptive statistics to analyze characteristics and responses of the study participants.

Of the 2,063 respondents, 651 (32%) indicated that they undergo medical aesthetic treatments including Botox injections, fillers, or laser procedures. More than half (56%) were women, 25% were 18-30 years old, 64% were 31-60 years old, and 11% were 61 years or older.

The three most common social media platforms they used were Facebook (70%), Instagram (65%), and YouTube (63%), followed by TikTok (45%) and Snapchat (29%). When the researchers stratified respondents by income level, individuals making $200,000 or more per year were statistically more likely to be on Instagram while those making less than $200,000 were more likely to be on Facebook and YouTube.

When asked if their aesthetic medical provider’s social media presence positively impacts their desire to see them as a patient, 48% of respondent were neutral or had no opinion, while 41% answered yes. “Only 2% felt strongly about this if the provider was on a specific social media platform, while 9% of respondents preferred that their provider not be on social media,” Dr. Murphrey added.

When asked if the number of social media followers influences their perception of an aesthetic provider as an expert, 43% of respondents answered no while 57% answered yes. “Once you get to about 20,000 followers, there seems to be somewhat of a law of diminishing returns in the number of followers,” she said. However, 55% indicated that they prefer to see a provider with a social media account that is verified with a blue check mark.

As for content published, 70% of respondents found it very important (36%) or important (34%) that a provider show before-and-after photos on their social media pages, while 67% said that they favor viewing personal content such as posts about the provider’s family and hobbies.

“This study summarizes to us that there is really low risk to creating a social media account; it’s something to think about,” Dr. Murphrey said. “Only 9% of respondents really didn’t want aesthetic providers to be on social media, but when we stratified our results, those individuals were less likely to be on social media themselves.”

Dr. Patricia Richey, dermatologist, Washington, DC.

Dr. Patricia Richey

Patricia Richey, MD, who practices Mohs surgery and cosmetic dermatology in Washington, D.C., and was asked to comment on the results, characterized the findings as important, “as the role of social media (especially visually based platforms like Instagram) will only continue to grow in our dermatologic and aesthetic practices.” Several studies have displayed a trend of plastic surgeons and other subspecialities outnumbering dermatologists within the aesthetic realm of social media, she noted. “As our patients increasingly seek out health care information and advice through these platforms, studies like Dr. Murphrey’s and Dr. Fabi’s are helpful in allowing us to better understand patient preferences and perspectives, in that we, as dermatologists, may be able to better aid their medical decisions in the future,” she added.

Neither the researchers nor Dr. Richey reported having relevant financial disclosures.

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