Instagram: Most Cosmetic Procedure Posts Are From Non-Experts

Richard Franki

October 07, 2022

Instagram's lack of high-quality educational content on nonsurgical cosmetic procedures puts the onus on dermatologists and plastic surgeons to increase their social media presence, according to an analysis of related posts on the photo-sharing service.

"Given that there is little to no oversight on social networking sites, unqualified sources can widely disseminate misinformation resulting in misguided management or unnecessary procedures," Taryn N. Murray, MD, and associates said in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.


They generated a list of 25 hashtags related to nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, which were queried on Instagram on Jan. 2-3, 2022. The most popular was #Botox, with 12.1 million posts, followed by #Laser with 6.7 million, and #Filler with 3.5 million. Each of the 25 hashtags had at least 250,000 posts, they reported.

"Studies have shown that cosmetic patients and younger patients value social media when selecting a provider and patients often make treatment decisions based on social media," they noted.

The bulk of the study involved "the first 10 posts displayed under the 'Top' section for each hashtag, as sorted by Instagram's proprietary algorithm," explained Dr. Murray and associates at the Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center in Houston. The 250 posts eventually selected for inclusion each received scrutiny in terms of content type and creator credentials.

Physicians in core cosmetic specialties — dermatology, plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery, and oculoplastic surgery — created just 12% of those 250 posts, compared with 68% for nonphysician providers, 13% for consumers/others, and 8% for other physicians, they said.

Educational content made up the largest share (38%) of posts by core cosmetic physicians, with before-and-after next at 31%, self-promotional at 21%, and personal at 10%. Nonphysician providers were the most likely to create before-and-after (49% of their total) and self-promotional (28%) content, while consumers had the largest share of promotional posts (31%) and other physicians posted the most entertainment content (25%), the researchers said.

An overall look at the content shows that the largest proportion of all 250 posts included in the analysis involved before-and-after photos (45%), with self-promotion next at 23%. Education represented just 17% of the posting total for nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, with personal, entertainment, and promotional each at 5%, Dr. Murray and associates reported.

By recognizing "the role social media plays in patients' understanding of and desire to undergo nonsurgical cosmetic procedures" and "increasing their presence on Instagram, core cosmetic physicians can provide patient education, counteract misinformation, and raise awareness on training and qualifications," they wrote.

The study authors did not provide any disclosures regarding funding or financial conflicts.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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