Is YouTube a credible resource when it comes to researching information about cosmetic surgery? According to a new study by Rutgers University, it is not.
The recent study revealed that in many instances, the individuals shown in YouTube videos giving advice about cosmetic procedures were not qualified to advise on the procedures they were performing or portraying or were not qualified medical providers at all.
During their research, the study authors reviewed the top 240 videos containing the keywords "dermal fillers," "face-lift" and "eyelid surgery."
The videos they used had a combined 160 million views.
During their analysis, they found that many of the videos were marketing campaigns and not educational tools.
The study authors also categorized the individuals who posted the videos to the popular video-sharing site into three separate categories: medical professions, patients or "other."
This part of their research revealed that the majority of the videos lacked a board-certified medical professional licensed to perform the featured procedure. Ninety-four of the videos lacked a medical profession entirely, and instead featured an average individual giving advice or talking about a cosmetic procedure.
The conclusion by the researchers is that the millions of people who use YouTube for advice about cosmetic surgery procedures may miss out on important information regarding the procedure, alternatives to surgery and the risks associated with the procedure.
This conclusion has led researchers to caution those using the website that what they see may not be accurate or may show bias. As a result, the Rutgers researchers recommend that individuals who are seeking cosmetic procedures research providers to ensure they are board certified and licensed to perform the procedures they are seeking.
One way to do this is to use state licensing boards and national credentialing organizations. Patients should contact these organizations to see if their provider is qualified to perform the procedure they want and to see if there have been any complaints against that provider.
Dr. Mona Alqulali, a cosmetic surgeon and OB-GYN in Bettendorf, Iowa, urges individuals interested in cosmetic procedures to use qualified providers.
"Selecting a trained and qualified cosmetic surgeon will help you not only get the results you want, but also reduce the risk of complications associated with the procedure," she said.
Alqulali also suggests that patients look beyond displayed diplomas and certificates to make sure the cosmetic surgeon has the training necessary for that specific procedure.
"If you are seeking an abdominoplasty tummy tuck or breast-augmentation procedure, you want that person to be certified and trained in these surgeries and not someone who is only licensed and trained to administer dermal fillers," Alqulali said.
Even dermal fillers and other injectables are serious business.
"A filler or endotoxin injection is also dangerous in the hands of someone lacking the training to place the needle properly. An improperly placed injection can lead to serious complications," Alqulali said.
Last year, the British newspaper The Sun featured the story of a 30-year-old woman who received dermal filler injections from an unqualified provider for a discount price at a local salon. The provider placed the injection into a blood vessel, which caused numbness, dangerous swelling and tissue damage.
This summer, Australian authorities reported a case of partial blindness in a female patient who received an incorrectly placed filler injection.
"Taking the time to research the person who will be treating you can go a long way for your health and peace of mind," Alqulali said.
Rutgers University researchers are not new to cosmetic surgery studies; earlier this year they researched the impact of selfies on plastic surgery and found that the close proximity of the camera to a person's face in self-images causes significant distortion that may fuel people to get cosmetic procedures.
Economic Times. Do you turn to YouTube for advice on cosmetic surgery procedures? Beware, they are misleading. 18 August 2018.
Allure. An Australian Woman's Botched Facial Fillers May Have Caused Blindness in One Eye. 24 August 2018.
Live Science. Selfies Distort Your Face by 30% — And Here's the Math to Back It Up. 1 March 2018.