By Andrea Smith 

Patients find their plastic surgeon on social media, and a 2018 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal shows that physicians with the highest number of social media followers are associated with placing at the top page of a Google search. This top placement makes the physician appear as an authority in the field, and patients, in turn, choose them to perform their procedures. Meanwhile, other metrics like medical school ranking or years in practice do not seem as important to today’s consumers. 

Not only do patients use social media to search for a plastic surgeon, but they also use it to gauge whether they trust the surgeon before they step inside their practice. This is understandable when we consider that patients are showing a vulnerable part of their face or body and trusting the surgeon to not only fix it, but to look at them with nonjudgmental eyes and help them to achieve their ideal look, and love the body they’re in. 

Using video to build patient trust on Instagram

One of the best ways to build a relationship and trust with a patient ahead of time and engage effectively on social media is through video content on Instagram. It is a social media platform that offers great benefits to a plastic surgery practice. Instagram places a strong emphasis on video content, which is the fastest way to grow that know, like and trust factor. In addition, many of the potential plastic surgery patients fall into the demographic of users most likely to be on Instagram: Millennials and Gen Z. reports that 62% of Instagram users are aged 18 to 34, so it’s vital for practices to be on this platform to get in front of them while they’re young. Instagram can also reach some key potential patients in the 35 to 54 age range as the same report said 24% of Instagram users are in this age group. 

How to use Stories and Reels on Instagram

It’s advisable to focus on two types of Instagram posts for your practice when building patient trust. The first is called stories. A story uses raw footage. It is an opportunity to showcase a day-in-the-life or some other aspect of your practice. This is where you build relatability. Stories are not planned out but instead are impromptu videos. Stories are only visible for 24 hours on Instagram before they go away. 

On the other hand, Instagram reels are well-planned, edited, and professional videos. They can show a specific procedure, patient reveals, or before and after pictures. Another option for an Instagram reel is to go through the benefits of a specific procedure. Reels live forever on Instagram. 

Use Facebook to target your target patient

Facebook is another valuable social media platform for plastic surgery practices. All ages are on Facebook, including people in the age range of 35 to 51, which statistics released by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show received 43% of all plastic surgery procedures. 

How to implement a social media plan

Plastic surgery practices have so much on their plates that doing social media correctly on their own is a challenge at best. However, it is undertaken, the two most important aspects of social media are to be consistent and to show up on video. From there, consider the following when working to build trust with potential plastic surgery patients: 

  1. Who should be in charge: The person who should be in charge of social media is the practice manager, or whoever is in charge of print media and the website—social media can also be part of something they are overseeing. Again, taking on social media is an incredible challenge to most practices and sometimes they need to seek outside help. The test is whether they can handle posting to social media at least three times a week on their own and answer all of the comments or inbox messages. If this is overwhelming to the practice, it’s advisable to seek outside help. 
  2. How much should you budget: Practices often wonder how much they should budget for social media marketing. This is where it is important to consider the return on investment, or ROI. In general, it is helpful to consider the average revenue from one patient. If a social media campaign can bring in at least one patient per month, then social media marketing more than pays for itself. The reality, though, is that regular social media posting to Instagram will bring in more than one patient each month. 

Marketing for plastic surgery practices is constantly changing. The reality in 2022, however, is that patients use social media to choose their surgeons and want to see their practitioner on camera to decide whether they’re trustworthy before they decide to come in for a consultation. Physicians with the highest number of social media followers rank at the top of Google searches and these top page rankings affect consumers’ choice of surgeon. We don’t know what the marketing landscape will look like a decade from now, but at the moment, plastic surgeons must adopt social media to grow their practices and meet patients where they are, which is, quite often, on Instagram. PSP

Andrea Smith owns Smith Social Company, a social media agency dedicated to supporting specialty physician practices. She has a decade of experience in healthcare operations, physician relations, and referral management.