Instagram isn’t just for selfies: Many plastic surgeons promote their work on the social media app, and some users search the app to find surgeons.

Yet picking your next plastic surgeon on Instagram can bring some serious health risks if that surgeon is not board-certified, according to a pilot study published Wednesday in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
Only 17.8% of plastic surgery-related Instagram posts in the United States and Canada might come from board-certified plastic surgeons, according to the study, which analyzed posts uploaded on a single day in January.
The majority of the posts were from physicians not trained in plastic surgery or professionals who were not even licensed physicians, such as dentists or spa aestheticians, said senior study author Dr. Clark Schierle, a board-certified Northwestern Medicine plastic surgeon and faculty member at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“Finding your surgeon on Instagram isn’t necessarily a problem,” Schierle said, adding that his own practice has accounts on Instagram and other social media sites.
Rather, a public health problem can arise when non-certified professionals market invasive procedures on the social media app and prospective patients may not ensure that the person behind the marketing is board-certified for that surgery, he said.
To be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a physician must have at least five years of approved surgical training, including a residency in plastic surgery, and must pass comprehensive written and oral exams in plastic surgery, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Certification is a voluntary credential, but by choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon, patients can be assured that the surgeon completed at least five years of additional training as a resident surgeon and graduated from an accredited medical school, according to the board.