Experts warn to not turn to YouTube videos for plastic surgery advice

Experts warn to not turn to YouTube videos for plastic surgery advice

Do NOT use YouTube for cosmetic surgery ‘advice’: Surgeons say patients are asking them to use dangerous techniques that they heard about on amateur videos

  • A team of researchers evaluated 240 videos on 12 different cosmetic surgery procedures 
  • Only about 33 percent of the videos viewed has a US-board certified commentator
  • Scientists warned that even the videos that feature medical professionals are often trying to market their own experience rather than offer advice

We often turn to YouTube for videos on everything from makeup tips to building a bed.

But doctors say people are also visiting the website for cosmetic surgery advice and it’s becoming a problem.

Videos documenting patient experiences and medical commentary have garnered hundreds of millions of views within the last decade.

Surgeons say people will then visit their offices asking for specific medical tools and techniques that are not even necessary for the surgeries they want done.

In a paper published on Thursday, a team from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School warned the videos often fail to describe how procedures work, what the risks are, and sometimes don’t even feature a medical professional.

If you’re looking for guidance on cosmetic surgery, avoid YouTube at all costs, a group of scientists has warned (file image)

Dr Boris Paskhover, a facial plastics and reconstructive surgeon at Rutgers, said he was inspired to write the paper after seeing many patients who referenced watching YouTube videos on procedures they wanted done. 

‘I had patients come in and said they watched videos on such-and-such procedure because they want to see what it’s all about,’ he told Daily Mail Online.

‘At times they were fed information that was not incorrect or the person in the video saId: ‘This is the only way to do it’ and it’s not the only way to do it.’

‘Like they’d say: ‘Everybody’s talking about splints’ but I’d say: ‘Well, I don’t use splints so that’s not relevant here.”

Dr Paskhover and his team searched 12 different terms for cosmetic surgery on YouTube including: facial filler, face-lift, rhinoplasty and nose job.

They then collected data using the top 20 videos that appeared for each of the search terms.

Next, they evaluated if the videos were created by a health care professional, a patient, or a third party.

A score of one-to-five, with five indicating a video of high quality of information, was given to each video using the DISCERN criteria.

‘The criteria evaluates the quality of the information on the medical procedure,’ said Dr Paskhover.

‘So we want to see do they provide objective information, do they prevent a balanced account of the risks and benefits, do they provide resources and even other options?’  

They found that videos featuring a US-board certified physician, and particularly one who specializes in plastic surgery, ophthalmology, or otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) were likely to have the most high quality information with a mean DISCERN score of 2.63.

A shocking 94 of the videos they watched featured no medical professional speaking about surgeries with low score of 1.85.

On average, only 33 percent of the videos viewed has a US-board certified commentator.

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Videos on facial fillers were most likely to have a board certified expert, with 75 percent featuring one, while videos on ear surgeries were the least likely with just 15 percent. 

‘Sometimes the people speaking about the procedure on the videos were not surgeons but aestheticians,’ said Dr Paskhover.

‘Or they could be a physician talking about a rhinoplasty but one who has no experience in it.

‘It’s like your taxes. If you’re gonna do your taxes, go to a certified public accountant.’

Dr Paskhover added that just because the physician in the video is a board-certified plastic surgeon doesn’t mean they’re providing the best information.

‘You have to be aware that sometime it’s marketing, they want to push their experience,’ he said.

‘In one way, I like [the patient] videos better because it’s more of a personal reflection. They’re not trying to sell you anything and you need to see what other patients go through.’ 

Dr Paskhover said that while YouTube can be a good starting point, there’s no substitute for an in-person conversation.

‘There’s no filter to what people can say [on videos]. They can say crazy things and not talk about the risks or any of the downsides,’ he said.

‘So speak to multiple people, get multiple opinions and have a candid conversation with someone who’s already had the procedure.’  

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