There’s a new type of patient coming into the offices of Dover, OH, facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD—one that he describes as a “more informed client.” The source of their newfound education? A rather unlikely medium.

“Social media’s impact on our first-time visitors is giving way to the arrival of a more educated client,” he says. “The light of understanding in the eyes of first-timers is much more evident today, because nearly all of them have already seen videos, studied before-and-after photos, and read reviews before I ever meet them. I love this.”

While Dr. Hartman says he believes it is still important to cover the basics in the discussions of procedure options, he thinks the “pre-informed” clients are far more capable of asking personalized and relevant questions—mainly because they have already been contemplating details of a prospective procedure and been imagining themselves trying it out. Plus, there’s a pretty solid personal connection.

“The other great advantage is that clients coming to our practice already know us before they actually meet us from what they have been able to learn online. They have already identified with us and that is why they have chosen to come in and visit. They are able to get a very balanced view of what to expect—the risks, the benefits, the alternatives and the limitations—from their online research efforts, which, in my opinion, makes them a better client.”

Regardless of what plastic surgeons are using social media for, Livingston, NJ, plastic surgeon John Paul Tutela, MD, says there’s no denying that the conversation is changing. “People, in general, are getting more open about plastic surgery—it’s a much more liberal conversation. The stigmas have dissipated and social media has a lot to do with it. People are witnessing and experiencing a lot of other people’s lives and they are more comfortable thinking about plastic surgery and discussing it. It’s not just limited to plastic surgery either; you see it in so many areas of beauty, including hair, makeup, injectables. It is in so many aspects of life.”

It’s a move that Dr. Tutela says helps the aesthetic industry as a whole—as long as it’s done well. “In general, you shouldn’t be able to see good plastic surgery, but you can see bad plastic surgery from across the room. On social media, if it’s a disaster, which unfortunately pops up more, that obviously doesn’t help the industry. However, I really think that, the more that people know about what’s available, the better off we are. Social media is fueling things—there’s no denying that.”