Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery: Good or Bad?

social media and cosmetic surgery trivialisation

Social media and cosmetic surgery sharing are increasingly featured in our social media feeds across a variety of platforms, from Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat to Twitter.

Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery: Are Celebrities & Social Media Trivialising surgery? 

  • Is Social Media sharing of cosmetic surgery videos HELPING or HURTING our knowledge about having Cosmetic procedures?
  • Do Social Media posts by celebrities lead to good or bad outcomes, when it comes to improving awareness of a surgery procedure, surgery risks or the variability of surgery results between patients?

We think, perhaps, a bit of each. Social media CAN help educate people about breast, body and face surgery; but it can also misinform. So these days, it pays to be a savvy consumer of information about cosmetic surgery. And that means digging deeper than the Instagram posts of a popular Surgeon and finding out what’s REALLY involved – including healing times, risks, and future revision rates (such as removal and replacement of breast implants or the risks of capsular contracture). 



Cosmetic Surgery Trending on Social Media Isn’t Always Safe – Do Your Homework

TIP: Don’t be misled by trendy images of a certain post-surgery before & after look; dig deeper. Find out the differences between procedures, Surgeons and long-term results versus short term results. 

  • Certainly, social media is often led by celebrities and individual patients sharing information with each other about their own cosmetic plastic surgery experiences.
  • This can help other patients understand what it was like for others to go through surgery; but is no guarantee your experience will be the same.
  • There are simply too many variables that go into having a good vs less good cosmetic surgery experience for patients.


Remember, so-called Cosmetic Surgeons are not FRACS Specialists (Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeons is very different from plain “cosmetic surgeons” re terminology and what it means).   Because the term “cosmetic surgeon” is not actually a medical qualification recognised by AHPRA/Medical Boards as being an area of expertise), some doctors use this term in social media in ways that may confuse patients.

When you search AHPRA for your Doctor’s qualifications for Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive surgery, you’ll want to ensure they have THIS at the bottom of their Registration page:


Remember, there’s actually “no such thing” as a Cosmetic Surgeon according to the Medical Board/AHPRA.

They are typically other types of doctors who jumped on the bandwagon of offering cosmetic procedures to unsuspecting patients.


For example, some doctors who perform cosmetic surgery use social media rampantly, but they aren’t actually qualified SURGEONS – dig deeper and you’ll discover they are NOT actually Specialists in Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive surgery. They may be a skin doctor or GP who’s simply using social media in ways that could mislead the public about their selected areas of medicine and their qualifications (or lack thereof) in terms of being a recognised Specialist Surgeon (you’ll want to look for FRACS).

Fears Patients Unaware that a so-called “Cosmetic Surgeon” is quite different to a FRACS qualified Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon in terms of training & qualifications

There’s also a fear by Public Health Advocates that our understandings of the seriousness of cosmetic surgical procedures – where serious complications can arise when surgery is either not performed properly OR where minor complications were not properly managed afterwards – is being somewhat trivialised by overuse of social media. 


The end result? Social Media posts and Cosmetic Surgery videos can HELP and HINDER consumer awareness about what’s involved with surgical enhancements. 

Again, to keep yourself informed about the latest surgery offerings and what’s involved, what types of doctors perform them, and what your real risks are, you need to do your homework regularly.

One of the most important things to understand is what types of doctors are actually performing these procedures (nearly impossible to assess if you opted for cheap “cookie cutter” types of breast surgery overseas).

It’s also wise to pay attention to what the real risks and longevity ranges are for different procedures.

  • For example, buttocks reshaping using implants and/or buttocks augmentation using liposuction and fat transfer ave proven to be dangerous to many patients. 
  • Buttocks implant operations have been found to cause deformities and infections in a number of patients.
  • With Buttocks Augmentation using fat transfer, the method remains in its relative infancy, and has caused numerous fatalities overseas.
  • These trendy surgeries may look like a good cosmetic surgery option if you go by social media posts alone, without digging deeper.
  • But they are often avoided by Surgeons who want to keep patients safe by offering only long-proven techniques. 


Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery: The Good, The Bad and the Misinformed

There are good and bad surgeons in nearly every area of medicine.

We think a good Surgeon is one who listens and respects his or her patients as individuals, has full qualifications and Specialist status in whatever surgeries they are performing, and has been granted full HOSPITAL operating rights (not just back room surgery capacities but genuine Hospital Operating Theatre privileges and hospital admitting rights).

A Qualification may not be indicative of skill levels, however.

That noted, a high qualification and Specialist ranking in Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive surgery (FRACS) means that the Specialist has undergone rigorous training and certification testings for approximately 12 years. 


Whereas a so-called ‘cosmetic surgeon’ may be nearly anyone, it can be a GP with minimal medical training or surgical expertise, or even a skin doctor (Dermatologist) or an OBY/GYN.  So it pays to see what qualifications your Surgeon actually HAS as a Specialist Plastic Surgeon (or not).

  • Many people who operate here and overseas aren’t even qualified as genuine Surgeon, yet alone a Specialist Plastic Surgeon (FRACS). 
  • They might be GPS (general practitioners) or skin doctors (Dermatologists) who have taken to Cosmetic Surgery offerings as an aside, after training in an entirely different area of medicine (plastic surgery is more than skin deep).
  • But if a doctor happens to be good at social media sharing of cosmetic surgery results and of their persona, the public may be none the wiser that they are NOT actually a genuinely qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon who has made that their entire life’s mission. 
  • A short course or a one year course does not a Specialist make, and certainly not a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, who’s had up to 12 years of dedicated studies. 


Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery: Consumer Awareness Building is in the Media

This is something that the medical community is hoping to change. They hope to make consumers more aware of what – and who – they are ‘purchasing’ – when they choose a doctor who isn’t actually a Specialist in cosmetic, reconstructive and plastic procedures (a non-FRACS doctor).

Hence, social media sharing may HINDER public knowledge in relation to WHAT type of Surgeon is genuinely qualified as a genuine Specialist Surgeon for cosmetic medicine (plastic surgery).


Patient’s Social Media sharing of Cosmetic Surgery Results – Good or Bad?

Social Media outlets offer highly visible platforms for sharing by patients who are open about having cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures. It’s also a forum for massive promotional displays by medical clinics who are good at marketing – but it isn’t a reliable indicator for who MAY or MAY NOT be the best qualified for performing cosmetic plastic surgery.

Is the Doctor ACTUALLY a FRACS qualified Surgeon with expertise in Cosmetic Surgery (you want both) – or did they get qualifications in something entirely different?

Not only that, but some people who are good at MARKETING their cosmetic surgery offers are actually NOT genuinely qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeons. Some are no more than a GP who’s done a relatively brief course in liposuction or breast augmentation – leaving the public confused.  In fact, clever marketing and spin by doctors performing Cosmetic Surgery who aren’t Plastic Surgeons has left many patients unaware of the key differences in (a) training times, (b) hospital operating and admitting privileges, (c) exams and tests and skill level minimums to gain FRACS, ISAPS, ASPS or ASAPS memberships

This is what the Minister of Health of New South Wales is trying to change and groups such as ASAPS and ASPS are trying to clarify with consumers of cosmetic surgery.

Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery - smart-consumers-of-cosmetic-surgery-social-media

Social Media and Cosmetic Surgery: Plastic Surgeons vs. Non-FRACS qualified Doctors who Perform Breast Surgery, Liposuction and Facelifts – what’s helpful to understand.

Misinformation and trivialisation of cosmetic surgery is also prevalent in discount breast implants and discount cosmetic surgery offers made by overseas “medical tourism” groups and non-Specialist clinics.

  • These discount surgery outfits often use GPs and other doctors that aren’t genuine Plastic Surgeons.
  • Some discounted surgery offers are illegal and some may involve less known breast implants (off-brand or little known brands) rather than reputable implant manufacturers such as MENTOR. 
  • If you look into media stories about problems in the world of cosmetic surgery, you’ll notice some of the so-called Cosmetic Surgeons mentioned lacked extensive experience or adequate education in handling surgical complications (or lacked knowledge of customising cosmetic procedures to suit the individual over the longer-term, and of the dangers of ‘awake’ breast augmentation performed outside of real hospitals).

Take Cosmetic Surgery Seriously. Cosmetic surgeon vs plastic surgeon Differences between Surgeons.

In other words, Clinics who promote themselves well on social media may use Dermatologists (skin doctors who perform breast surgery and liposuction – involving areas of the body well beneath the skin, their chosen area of medical training). Even television shows may share Before and After Photos of patients that may look great in their initial photos, but who knows how good their long-term surgery results will be? 

Social media sharing between patients can help educate patients, which is a great thing for cosmetic surgery / plastic surgery patients. 

  • But there is a lot of social media and cosmetic surgery post sharing by professionals who aren’t actually Specialists in Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery
  • Technically speaking, the term “Cosmetic Surgeon” on it’s own – is (a) unprotected, meaning anyone can use it at the moment, and (b) there’s actually no Surgical Specialty recognised by the Medical Board as “Cosmetic Surgeon”
  • This may confuse patients who aren’t yet savvy with the different types of practitioners offering cosmetic surgery of the breast, body, face and nose.
  • Read more about the efforts of ASAPS and the NSW Minister of Health, to help educate patients, as seen recently in the news.


Cosmetic Cowboys - Cosmetic Surgeons - no such thing

EXCERPT from article in Daily Telegraph about NSW Health Minister calling for an investigation into so-called “Cosmetic Surgeons”:

MEDICAL school graduates are calling themselves cosmetic “surgeons” after completing half-day training courses in breast enhancements and [anti-wrinkle injections], prompting calls for a wide ranging ­overhaul of the industry by concerned health professionals and terrified women who believe they have been misled on the operating table.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard last night ordered an investigation into rogue operators “flouting regulations” after the revelations.

So whilst social media is a great medium for sharing patient experiences first-hand, and as much as there’s abundant information about surgery on the web, there’s also misinformation about what a Doctor is actually fully qualified and capable to perform. 

Too often, patients don’t fully comprehend the difference between Surgeons who have FRACS qualifications and those who trained in other areas of medicine that weren’t specifically cosmetic, plastic & reconstructive surgery at the highest Specialist level.


Surgeon but a Plastic Surgeon has gained Specialist qualifications, FRACS and either ASAPS, ASPS, ISAPS or similar memberships that reflect their commitment to pursuing patient safety, surgical excellence and ongoing training.

If you’re choosing a genuine Specialist Plastic Surgeon, they will have FRACS (Plast) affiliations and training specialisations in plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery – not a weekend or even year long course, but over a decade of study. 

What this means:

  • Your selected FRACS qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon has spent about 12 years or longer refining their surgery skills before operating on patients in private practice. 
  • There is actually NO SUCH THING as a “cosmetic surgeon” according to the medical board an AHPRA specialisation categories. 
  • There is only (FRACS/PLAS) covering genuinely qualified Surgeons with this specialty area tried, tested and true by various Boards (not self-governing bodies).

How-long-in-hospital-after-cosmetic-surgery-breast-reduction, breast augmentation or a tummy tuck or eyelid surgery?

These days, you’ll find cosmetic surgery promotions all over the internet and social media channels – but often these are not genuine FRACS qualified Surgeons with a Board approved specialty in Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery.

  • Stories abound about patients being misled to believe all “Cosmetic Surgeons” are equal in training to Plastics – this is definitely NOT the case at all. 
  • With social media sharing, you’ll also find cosmetic patient stories on some of the best community plastic surgery forums such as The Plastic Surgery Hub in Australia.  These aim for patients to share what it’s really like to have surgery – but patients must remember every experience is unique to the patient, and no two patients will have similar experiences or results. 
  • Australian-based consumer forums like the HUB or Cosmetic Journey that discuss Cosmetic Plastic surgery experiences are often more relevant to Melbourne residents, typically, than a USA-dominated organisation like RealSelf. RealSelf mostly promotes USA-based, American Plastic Surgeons and plastic surgery patients having operations overseas (which has 10x the population of Australia).

TIP: Stick with a local Australian based FORUM when comparing cosmetic surgery stories on the net including social media.

For one thing, they are still experimenting at times with procedures that most Australian doctor’s wouldn’t touch until safety and efficacy had been determined over at least several years or ideally a decade. 

Would you really want to be the FIRST patient to try out buttock enhancements or a new fat transfer method, without actually knowing the risks?  Search “fatalities in buttocks liposuction and fat transfer” and you’ll discover why our Surgeons don’t offer these risky procedures. We actually prioritise patient safety above surgery trends – so patients can rest easier that they’re in seasoned, skilled and safety-minded hands!

In summary, it is a bit alarming that many people considering cosmetic procedures still don’t fully understand the seriousness of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and what we believe are the advantages of choosing a Specialist Plastic Surgeon over a different type of doctor performing surgery.

  • This lack of clarity about cosmetic surgery services isn’t always helped by the amount of information – and primarily, MISINFORMATION – on social media forums.
  • Many patients sharing their initial photos after surgery may NOT understand how long their results may last or how to enhance the longevity of their results.
  • In Melbourne and other parts of Australia, there remains a lot of social media driven confusion about what the best qualifications to look for, when you are choosing the Surgeon you want to perform Cosmetic Surgery – e.g., choosing between someone who’s made Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive their life’s specialty including over a decade of training OR someone who’s come into cosmetic operations after studying a different stream (or for far less time, such as a GP who forewent the training required for a Specialisation qualification and ASAPS/ASPS and ISAPS memberships).

The take home message about social media posts of plastic surgery results is this:

  • What looks good today on social media sharing might not look so good in a few months or year’s time – our Surgeons aim for longevity instead of the ‘quick’ fix-approach.
  • It’s important to know the risks of surgery and not to take it lightly.
  • Shopping on price for a surgery procedure is dangerous in our view – it’s not the same as shopping for shoes. You have ONE body, face, nose, set of eyelids. 
  • Do you really want the cheaper surgery option or a non-Specialist to perform your cosmetic operation when your skin, body, face and life are on the line?

social media posts by cosmetic doctors and surgery patients

We want to help cosmetic surgery patients understand the complications that can arise when surgery is not done properly.  To find out more, join us at one of our Plastic Surgery Patient Information Night events – free at our clinic in Hawthorn East. Bring a friend along to our next event to do more research on Plastic Surgery and what’s involved – RSVP on our EVENTS page. Or send an enquiry form today and request a Guide to surgery or a confidential consultation with one of our Specialist Surgeons or Nurse Coordinators.

Key factors that influence cosmetic plastic surgery success, in our view:

  • Choosing the right type of Surgeon for the surgery you have in mind, such as a skilled, FRACS qualified and highly experienced genuine Specialist Plastic Surgeon
  • Choose a Surgeon who has attained long-standing respect from peers and patients alike in the community. 
  • Be willing to collaborate with your Surgeon to get a good experience and pleasing result – this means doing your part in the preparation and healing phases, and understanding what surgery can (and cannot) accomplish.


  • Learning all you can about how to have a good surgery experience – having help when you get home while you recovery, using our Rapid Recovery products and/or scar treatments and/or Healite II, NOT smoking or using substances or supplements that harm your innate healing capacity or increase your surgery risks, and so forth.

Again, “Cosmetic Surgeons” do NOT undergo the same amount of intensive training as “Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeons” with FRACS.

As you do your homework, we think you’ll become more aware that many monitoring groups and even Health Officials (NSW Health Minister) are wanting to crack down on NON-Plastic Surgeons offering Cosmetic Surgery to patients who remain unaware of the differences between FRACS qualified specialists and ‘general’ GPs, Dermatologists and General Surgeons.

These doctors may offer Breast Augmentation, Liposuction and more – but without the rigorous 12 years of training that FRACS qualified specialist have undertaken to become fully qualified as a Specialist Plastic Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon. 

Best Questions to ASK your SURGEON before you sign consent for a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE the First Incision

    • Do YOU have operating privileges in real Australia hospitals? 
      • The answer of a “general cosmetic surgeon” who is NOT a Specialist Plastic Surgeon is “NO.” 
      • Why is that? It may be related to medical liability insurance and Hospital policy.
    • What is your APHRA Specialty – or don’t you have one?
    • Are you a RACS fellowship SURGEON able to use the term “FRACS” by your title (e.g. a “fellow” of the Royal Australia College of Surgeons)?
  • Does your training qualify you as a SPECIALIST in PLASTIC, COSMETIC & RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY per APHRA and RACS?
  • Will I find you under the “Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive” surgery category when I search:  or a DIFFERENT field of medicine; and what will I find when I search APHRA to discover your speciality area of Medicine (if you have one) – or are you a GP without a Specialist Surgery qualification through RACS?)

How to AVOID Botched Cosmetic Surgery  

Click here to read the blog about avoiding botched cosmetic surgery becoming an INFORMED CONSUMER of cosmetic medicine and cosmetic plastic surgery such as breast augmentation, breast lift or breast reduction, skin reduction after weight loss, liposuction, tummy tuck or belt lipectomy after pregnancy or diastasis recti, facelift surgery, neck lift procedures, rhinoplasty and thigh lift or arm reduction surgery.