In defence of ‘Snapchat surgery’

I’m proud to call myself a so-called ‘Snapchat Surgeon’.

At my clinic, we often document plastic surgery by videoing the procedure and uploading the footage to social media. In the case of the app Snapchat, the surgeries are often streamed live to our followers.

At my clinic, we often document plastic surgery by videoing the procedure and uploading the footage to social media. In the case of the app Snapchat, the surgeries are often streamed live to our followers.

The sacred bond of respect and trust between a surgeon and a patient is so vital that we always ensure that a patient gives full consent to being featured in this way. We’d never seek to abuse that relationship.

Let’s cut to the chase; cosmetic surgery can be a powerful force for good, revolutionising the lives of patients and restoring once-shattered confidences. But that transformative journey very often involves major, invasive surgery. It’s vital that fact is not forgotten when it comes to ensuring that patients go into their procedures with metaphorical eyes wide open.

 

Snapchat can ensure that happens.

True, not everyone wants such an intimate moment being broadcast to the public.And, in the same way, not everyone wants to witness such procedures, either. Critics will argue that the footage we capture is too graphic, too extreme, too honest.

They might wince when they see an implant being inserted into a breast, or the detailed incisions in the scalp required in procedures like hairline lowering. Yes, there’s blood. Yes, for those not used to looking at surgeries the footage can prove difficult to watch. But these are the realities of plastic surgery.

It’s my strong view that we need to look past the glossy adverts and glowing testimonials to show the precise details of what happens in an open and transparent way.

It’s about education; a fully informed patient is a patient in control. No-one should ever agree to undergo surgery without fully understanding what they’re letting themselves in for.

It’s about education; a fully informed patient is a patient in control. No-one should ever agree to undergo surgery without fully understanding what they’re letting themselves in for.

And the popularity of our Snapchat and Instagram videos is testament to this. We typically have around 600-800 people viewing our posts and they’re not doing so for the thrill of it – they’re seeking to learn more and perhaps prepare themselves for their own operations.

There is, however, one caveat to all this.

In America, the idea of medical professionals using social media in the operating theatre has proved popular.

Yet some surgeons have taken it to extremes, dressing up in costumes, playing hip-hop music in the background and generally seeking to sensationalise content as they appeal to ‘consumers’ – not ‘patients’. In the words of some, the situation had become a ‘circus’.

That has recently led to calls for a social media ban for surgeons while the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) recently published a list of ethical guidelines which surgeons should abide by when filming and uploading content.

That’s a move to be applauded.

And, at my clinic, we want to continue using Snapchat to illustrate exactly what it is we do, documenting a medical procedure in as much detail as we can, without the need to add hyperbole or hype.

The ops speak for themselves and simply don’t warrant it.

 

Christopher Inglefield

Christopher Inglefield

Christopher Inglefield is a a highly experienced Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon and Medical Director of London Bridge Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Clinic.
He is a member of the UK Association of Aesthetic Surgeons, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, British Burn Association, the British Microsurgical Society, the British Association of Surgical Oncology and the Royal Society of Medicine – Plastic Surgery.
Christopher Inglefield

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