'Snapchat Surgeons' Are Under Scrutiny

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Increasingly, plastic surgeons have been taking to social media to showcase surgeries and even livestream their operating room antics in hopes of growing their clientele, both in the office and online. Now, experts are finally proposing ethics guidelines directed at these surgeons (aka “Snapchat Surgeons”) to ensure the contents of these videos, pictures and streams don’t harm the patients involved.

“Plastic surgery is uniquely drawn to social media because we tend to do more marketing and we are a visual specialty,” Dr. Clark Schierle, senior author of the guidelines and a plastic surgeon at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, told Reuters. But, as the guidelines state, the videos “have blurred the line between entertainment and patient care.” The proposed guidelines are the first to address sharing videos of plastic surgery on social media and will be presented October 6 at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual meeting in Orlando, FL.

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Published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the guidelines argue these videos too often cross an ethical line and exploit patients while ignoring the dangers of surgery and the precaution we should be taking. To keep the posts focused on education instead of amusement, as well as keep the patient out of harm’s way, the proposed standards stress that patients should be asked to consent to filming in advance (as well as be allowed to refuse the request) and be 100-percent sure of their decision, as these videos can be easily manipulated and widely shared, making it difficult to remove the content from the internet once it’s originally posted if they have a change of heart.

Another wise recommendation found in the published guidelines: to hire assistants to document surgeries to ensure photographing and video taping does not interrupt the procedures. “In general, there should be an effort to avoid distractions from the actual surgery itself and sharing any content that makes the patient identifiable without specific consent,” says Dr. Schierle.

Though the outcome of this proposition is unknown, we, along with Dr. Schierle, are optimistic for the results. “We hope this will make its way into the official ethical code of conduct for board-certified plastic surgeons,” Schierle said. Stay tuned to NewBeauty.com for updates.

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