If you spend a lot of time checking out posts on your Instagram Discover feed, chances are you've come across some plastic surgery videos or before-and-after shots. It's become super trendy for plastic surgeons to market on Instagram, and for patients to share videos of their procedures (like Farrah Abraham's posts about her vaginal rejuvenation process). Providers like Michael Salzhauer, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Miami, constantly share videos and pics of popular surgeries.
But now, a new study shows that very few people posting surgery ads and using plastic surgery-related hashtags on Instagram are, in fact, reputable cosmetic-surgery providers. The takeaway? Don't look for a plastic surgeon on social media.
The paper, published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, looked at the Instagram results for 21 surgery-related hashtags including #boobjob, #facelift, #liposuction, and #brazilianbuttlift. They found 1.8 million tagged posts, and looked at the top nine posts from each hashtag. The majority of these posts were shared by foreign surgeons, and 26 percent were shared by doctors like ob-gyns and dermatologists who were not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In fact, only 17.8 percent of the top posts came from board-certified plastic surgeons. And other people sharing the images and videos included spas, dentists, and even a hair salon.
"This is a very scary finding," researcher Robert Dorfman said in a press release. "Providers — ranging from physicians who are not licensed in plastic surgery to dentists, hair salon employees, and barbers — are doing procedures for which they do not have formal or extensive training. That's extremely dangerous for the patient."
There are much safer ways to find a surgeon than following Instagram filters. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has an online tool allowing you to search for board-certified plastic surgeons by location. All the physicians listed are ASPS members, meaning they have more than six years of surgical training and experience with at least three of those years spent specifically in plastic surgery.
"One of the first steps you can take towards a successful procedure is to become an educated consumer," the ASPS website advises. "Read about patient safety and how to make smart choices about your surgeon and the facilities where your procedure will be performed. Browse through before-and-after photos to see the kinds of improvements surgical and minimally-invasive procedures can make."
Basically, do your research — and always, always go with a board-certified plastic surgeon.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.