Half of US plastic surgeons are using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to build their practice, according to a survey in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.Facebook like thumb

Researchers sent an anonymous survey to more than 5,000 American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) member surgeons, and 500 responded. Of these, a little more than 50% said they regularly used social media for their professional practice. Facebook was the most popular platform, followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Surgeons who primarily perform cosmetic plastic surgery are more likely to use social media.

When asked their reasons for using social media, most plastic surgeons responded that incorporating social media into medical practice was inevitable. About half said that social media was an effective marketing tool and a useful forum for patient education.

About one-third of plastic surgeons saw positive effects of using social media. They felt it provided an effective, low-cost means of advertising and increased exposure of their practice. About half believed that engaging in social media increased patient referrals and positive feedback. Few plastic surgeons—1.5%—reported negative effects of social media on their practice.

Plastic surgeon holdouts who weren’t using social media said it was to maintain a sense of professionalism, protect patient confidentiality, and that they were concerned about becoming too accessible.

About one-fourth of respondents felt that the ASPS and other governing bodies “should provide some oversight and/or monitoring of plastic surgeons’ use of social medial to ensure ethical online behavior.”