Analyzing the content and engagement of plastic surgeons on Instagram

Analyzing the content and engagement of plastic surgeons on Instagram

A 2023 study published in the National Library of Medicine set out to investigate how plastic surgeons engage with users on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Ten surgeons were selected with the highest follower count and who had a business website, like this website. There were three female and seven male surgeons in the study.

This article will review the findings of the study on plastic surgeons and social media engagement.


The Rise of Social Media Marketing

As of January 2023, there are a staggering 4.76 billion registered social media users globally. In addition, the number of new social media users has climbed exponentially over the past 12 months, with nearly four new users every second. Many businesses have seen an opportunity to utilize social media as a marketing tool to get a greater reach locally as well as globally for their products/services.

Many plastic surgeons use social media platforms such as Instagram to attract new traffic to their websites. Interestingly enough, plastic surgeons from the US account for the highest number of social media posts on Instagram. However, having the largest number of posts differs substantially from having the largest number of engagements per post. And that is exactly what the study aimed to determine:

  • What type of posts do plastic surgeons from the US post on Instagram?
  • How much engagement do these posts get?
  • How likely are these posts to drive traffic to the practice’s website?
  • Is there a difference between posted images and posted videos?
  • Is there a difference between male and female plastic surgeons that post?

From the social media users’ point of view, social media allows future patients to engage virtually with a surgeon and their practice before committing to an in-person consultation. The social media account also allows the user to view the work of the surgeon and the results and gives the user an indication of what to expect from certain procedures.

Prospective patients go on social media and search for plastic surgeons to get a visual idea of what to expect from surgery, including recovery times, and to determine if their expectations are realistic. Instagram uses hashtags to navigate the site. Users can search for the type of surgery or results of a specific surgery by searching through related hashtags.


Surgeons Content Engagement Findings

Instagram wasn’t originally designed as a marketing tool. It was designed to be a social media app where users could share pictures of their life and experiences. Somewhere along the course of its existence, one savvy user determined that the site had incredible reach, and so Instagram as a marketing tool was born. It didn’t take too long for some forward-thinking surgeons to realize that they could potentially attract new patients while at the same time giving visual testament to their work and skills through this platform.

This study determined that there were three types of content posted by the top ten surgeons. These ten surgeons were selected to be the study sample, and so their presence reflects most surgeons on Instagram, except for their high follower list. Most plastic surgeons in the study looked at Instagram as a tool to drive traffic to their business website and convert the traffic into actual sales. Another key reason was that these surgeons wanted to create a presence online so that prospective patients could easily find them and the services that they offered.

Top content posted by plastic surgeons included:

  • Marketing content
  • Personal posts
  • Educational posts


Of course, with their goal in mind, surgeons primarily posted marketing content about the specific type of surgery they offered and what could be expected from this surgery. The content often included graphic images of patients and their healing process after surgery. The idea was to give prospective patients an idea of what they could expect, how long recovery would take, and if the results would match their expectations. Surprisingly, this content received the least engagement.

To a much lesser extent, the surgeons post personal content about their own lives and families. Again, surprisingly, this content received much higher engagement. And, of course, somewhere in the middle was educational content, which also received low engagement.


The most important takeaway from this study is that, on a much grander scale, personal posts were responsible for driving engagement on the plastic surgeon’s Instagram account. Much more than marketing content. If plastic surgeons want to attract users that engage with their content, they should insert some personal content so that users can better relate to the account on a personal level.

In addition, the study found that if a surgeon had a high engagement with their content on Instagram, it would drive up their website in Google searches. So, what does this mean for graduating surgeons? The study reveals that they had better chances of improving their practice if they posted on sites like Instagram.

Based on this study, it is evident that social media marketing strategies are a very important component of the overall marketing strategy of a plastic surgeon’s practice for an Instagram account to boost engagement and attract new patients. It is important to include both marketing content and personal content, as the latter elicits an emotional response.

The study found little to any deviance between male and female surgeons posting or between posts or video posts. The engagement was equal in these regards.

Naomi Cook
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