Could Snapchat Surgeons' Fame Come at a Cost to Youngsters?

Posted on 10 August 2016
What started as a way of sending private (and sometimes saucy) photographs from one person to another has now become one of the most popular social media platforms of all time.

Snapchat enables individuals and brands to update their friends and followers by means of time-limited photos and videos, as well as allowing users to create some quirky and fun self-portraits using Snapchat’s exclusive face-swapping tool and photo filters.

Nowadays, it’s increasingly being used by celebrities, including some you’d expect to be taking before and after photos of their patients to add to their portfolios rather than wielding surgical knives on live video streams.

The BBC mentions that one such example is Dr. Miami, otherwise known as Dr. Michael Salzhauer. He’s an American plastic surgeon and author whose Snapchat videos and photos are currently clocking up around 1.5m views each. He turned to Snapchat as a way of publicising his work after Instagram began to censor his pictures. Dr. Miami claims his use of the social media tool has increased business dramatically, and says he has a regular stream of both prospective patients and fans coming to his office to meet him and his team.

Another American surgeon who’s shot to fame riding the Snapchat wave is Matthew Schulman MD. He showcases similar procedures to Dr. Miami and says his aim is to “educate people in an entertaining way, without dancing around, dressed up in costumes”.

Both surgeons claim their use of the live video and image sharing platform is for educational purposes and aimed at those working in the medical field, as well as people considering undergoing cosmetic surgery. However, their critics aren’t so sure. Daniel Maman MD, for example, believes that the duo “have gone beyond what’s ethically acceptable in the practice of safe surgery” by “talking about non-surgical issues, cracking jokes, wearing sunglass or wearing costumes”. There’s also the risk of the doctors being distracted during surgical procedures, and putting their patients’ wellbeing on the line. Perhaps, the biggest worry of all is that both Snapchat accounts are followed by thousands of impressionable teenagers, who are being encouraged to see cosmetic surgery as a form of entertainment rather than a serious medical matter.

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