Snapchat is currently the fastest growing social network for teenagers and millennials. In fact, experts believe that one in five Americans used Snapchat during 2016. Medical professionals, especially plastic surgeons, have jumped on this trend, and have found a niche on Snapchat among viewers who want to check out graphic surgical content.

But while there are doctors and surgeons hoping to make a lasting imprint on modern medicine, there is a concern in the medical community that the growing social media trend might widen the divide between the professional bond between the doctor and of the patient.

For more news, views and funny stuff follow Trending Nurses on Facebook:


  Snapchat Offers Real Benefits

Dr. Rubinshtein, or @dr_snapchat, or as he’s known professionally, decided to use the social platform to answer dental questions, show basic procedures, and explain lab work to people who otherwise feared to go to the dentist.

He explains that prospective clients are made to feel less fearful when they “see a fellow patient sit in the chair, totally relaxed while having the same procedure as they are about to have.” Rubinshtein believes that his patients are much calmer after seeing the curtain pulled back on routine appointments, and this encourages them to visit more frequently.

In December of 2016, Dr. Shafi Ahmed, a UK teaching surgeon, streamed a routine hernia operation using Snapchat glasses. As an educator, his primary purpose for using Snapchat was to extend educational opportunities to areas experiencing shortages of surgeons. Only about 200 viewers participated in the streaming, but on YouTube, the surgery has had thousands of views, and in so doing, has reached people all over the world.

He added, “I’m looking for ways we can use cutting-edge technology in relatively low-cost gadgets to teach people everywhere.”

  The Questionable Nature of Snapchatted Surgeries

@TheRealDrMiami, or Michael Salzhauer, is hands-down the most popular plastic surgeon on Snapchat, receiving nearly two million views per snap for his videos. He is certainly not the only aesthetic plastic surgeon performing on Snapchat today, but no other doctor rivals his popularity currently.

He has been criticised by the medical community for his light-hearted approach in the operating room, which has included cracking jokes, wearing costumes, and even holding bags of human fat while assuming “gangster” poses.

Though most patients request anonymity during their streamed operations, Dr. Miami admits that there are some patients who sign release forms in an attempt to gain internet popularity. He’s even known to give them a shout-out via their Snapchat handle before the surgery begins.

Not All Plastic Surgeons Agree

Admittedly, one cannot deny the benefits of aesthetic surgery, but many plastic surgeons disapprove of Dr. Miami’s Snapchat techniques. Dr. Matthew Schulman (@nycplasticsurg) is another popular Snapchat doctor with a growing following. Schulman’s idea is to educate people, and he is trying to do it in an entertaining way so that people do not get bored, but he doesn’t do the dress-up and funny poses.

Dr. Daniel Maman does not agree with the public showmanship saying “the appeal of these Snapchat accounts is that they are talking about non-surgical issues, cracking jokes, wearing sunglasses, or wearing costumes in the [operating room]… I think that these surgeons have gone beyond what’s ethically acceptable in the practice of safe surgery.”

How This Affects Prospective Medical Professionals

Dr. Schulman admits, “I have people just interested in plastic surgery viewing it essentially as a reality television show. Then I have people interested in plastic surgery and research.”

Obviously, being fascinated by the gory and strange separate medical students from the rest, but there’s definitely more to treating patients than surgery. Social media can also be responsible for conveying the wrong impression of the medical environment.

What Can You Do as a Future Medical Professional?

While the graphic content on 10-second videos may intrigue those interested in a medical career, you should involve yourself in hands-on work like job shadowing or volunteer work to understand the comprehensive scope of what the healthcare sector requires. Snapchat surgeries don’t communicate the ‘bedside manner’ that medical professionals need to succeed.

If you currently follow doctors and surgeons on social media, most doctors recommend that you focus your energy on the experts in their field. Check out their credentials. Are they being published? Have they been awarded by scientific and medical organizations?  Do they post about current issues and focus on patient-centered treatment? There is nothing wrong with being open to new technology, but it’s a fine line.

The Future of Social Media and Medicine

Aesthetic plastic surgery procedures are on the rise in the United States.  What’s more, a study in 2013 stated that 3% of sur3geons saw an increase in plastic surgery requests that were directly related to social media.  We can thus conclude that medical-based Snapchatting is on the rise.

Over the coming years, we are likely to see an increase in redefining confidentiality and ethics, especially when it comes to social media. We’ll also see an increase in governance by medical boards.

For more news, views and funny stuff follow Trending Nurses on Facebook: