Shade on the gram
Instagram is a remarkable platform.
We have an opportunity to reach an audience every day that is unprecedented. From construction workers in Mumbai to seamstresses in Moldova. On Instagram we are all each other’s audience. It is an avenue to unite, communicate, advertise, love and encourage. These are all positive attributes of this platform to be appreciated and used to our advantage.
Instagram is also a source of misinformation, false advertising and negativity. It is painful to sometimes scroll through the feed and see the same misguided content daily. For those of you who particularly follow pages dedicated to aesthetic medicine and cosmetic procedures it is important to understand what is sincerely truthful and what are lies dressed up in pretty posts in the hopes that you won’t notice. As a physician it is particularly disappointing to see other physicians elevating themselves by demeaning their colleagues.
There are 3 shady Instagram characters that deserve the side-eye:
1. The Saviour Physician
As some doctors gain success and traction on social media because of their hard work and innovative marketing ideas, other doctors find it necessary to elevate themselves by reminding their followers about all the many botched jobs they have corrected. The biggest lie any doctor can tell their patient, or in this new world of social media, their followers, is that they have never encountered any complications themselves. So many posts I see begin with “this patient came to see me because another doctor overfilled her/ another doctor botched her lips/ another doctor froze his face/ another doctor blah blah blah..”
This kind of lingo implies that only “another doctor” encounters adverse events. The truth is we all do. In fact, I have often treated many of my Saviour colleagues’ patients who were not happy. And I know that they have done the same for my patients. That’s how it goes. To present yourself as a perfect injector that goes through life fixing all your competitors’ unhappy patients is an utter lie and irresponsible way of self-promotion. Similarly, many Saviour Physicians will degrade treatments that they don’t offer to elevate and promote the treatments they do offer. So, for example, instead of promoting their new body contouring device called “X” by showing good results, treatment videos or scientific data, they will tell you how bad the competitor device “Y” is to dissuade you from trying it, often using exaggerated and fabricated reasons. Injectors who don’t perform a certain procedure will use scare tactics to prevent patients who respect their opinion from getting those procedures. I am all for patient education and patient awareness, but if you’re going to scare your patients into not getting a procedure that you don’t offer you are implying that those physicians who do offer that procedure are irresponsible and not taking the well-being of their patients into consideration.
Just recently I saw a post from a doctor who doesn’t perform a certain risky procedure. I respect her for knowing her limitations and not offering a procedure she is not comfortable with. But then the Instagram shade sneaks in, and before you know it, all of us who do perform the procedure are “only doing it for financial gain” and not because we have attended multiple cadaver training sessions, countless international symposiums and conferences or numerous one-on-one hands-on training with some of the world’s leading plastic surgeons and cosmetic physicians. Not because of any of that. Seriously, give me a break.
2. The not-so-honest Influencer
I have had the pleasure of working with a handful of influencer patients who I believe embody the responsibilities that come with being a public figure. If you asked them they would confirm that my only request has always been not for a post every time they visit Skin Technique, but loyalty to my team and I. Loyalty shows that you are not simply getting a one-time treatment in exchange for a post, but that you actually trust and support the clinic you go to because you are ultimately treated as a patient receiving a procedure. It matters less to me how soon they are going to post about the clinic and more about how happy they are with their treatments. Everything else is secondary. One of the Instagram deceptions I really detest is when influencers who have clearly only been to a medispa or cosmetic clinic one time in exchange for who-knows-what, encourage their followers to go to that clinic, follow them, win something if they follow them etc. etc.
How is a consumer supposed to know where they are really going if the influencers they trust and follow are bouncing around from place to place getting free procedures in exchange for encouraging their trusted followers to do the same? I think being influential means responsibly and ethically guiding those who value your opinion in the direction that is in their best interest. This can only be done once you’ve established a regular relationship with your cosmetic office and have gained your own trust in them.
3. The know-it-all commenter
We have all encountered the know-it-all commenter. They somehow know more about you and your craft than you do. When we post a good before and after result with obvious improvements in the areas treated, someone will often say “CLEARLY this is due to different lighting” or “CLEARLY her head is tilted 10 degrees to the left in the after photo.” We even encounter it from other doctors who must have a lot of time on their hands because they go out of their way to prove how all of you are being deceived, deceived I tell you, by misleading head positions and camera angles.
So I did an experiment and looked at the first ten posts on one of these Saviour Doctor’s feeds and, believe it or not, right before me was a before and after post where the after image was clearly lightened more than the before. Now, if only I had a director of photography for every photo we take, or the most state-of-the-art photography and lighting equipment then maybe some of these know-it-all hypocrites would find a new hobby. But the reality is that during a busy clinic day these images are often captured in a rush by amateur photographers. Most annoyingly, it is clear when someone has had an obviously significant improvement and that it is not due to a camera angle or the degree of brilliance in the lighting. Spend that time complimenting someone on their good work rather than coming up with reasons why that good work must be due to ‘something else’. Stop underestimating everyone’s intelligence. It is obvious when some clinics use ridiculous body positions and lighting to make their results appear better than they are, but when a credible physician is showcasing an excellent result and you are drawing diagrams and writing paragraph rants on the slight sideways tilt of the subject’s head you look foolish. And just because other know-it-all commenters band together and support your “theories” doesn’t make you any more of an “expert”.
It is true that we live in a world of fake news. But we tend to perpetuate this with our own actions. These actions may seem small and negligible, but many small actions become one big movement in the wrong direction. I believe if we all focus on what we are doing, choose community over competition and think before we criticize, that we will all feel a little happier every day. And happiness is the one thing you cannot fake.