The "realSelf Effect": Can patient reviews on social media impact clinic volume?

Paymon Sanati-Mehrizy, Ilana G. Margulies, Farah Sayegh, Michael J. Ingargiola, Peter J. Taub

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background Whether patient driven or surgeon driven, social media can serve as a strong marketing tool to attract plastic surgery patients. At many training programs, chief residents have the opportunity to run an independent clinic, in which patients are evaluated for aesthetic and reconstructive procedures. In this study, the authors sought to investigate the downstream effect of a single positive review on a major social review site on cosmetic surgery volume. Methods A retrospective pre-post intervention study was performed. Operating room case logs at an urban training program were queried for purely aesthetic cases performed through the chief resident clinic in 2012 to 2018. Procedures performed by nonplastic surgery services were excluded. Results A total of 1734 cases met the inclusion criteria. Before the online review, aesthetic cases grew from 61 to 82 (10% compounded annual growth rate). However, after the review was posted, 107 aesthetic cases were performed in the 2016-2017 academic year, driving a 30% growth rate. A large portion of this increase in growth can be attributed to the growth in number of rhytidectomies performed. Discussion This study evaluated the impact of social media on the volume of aesthetic cases performed through an established chief resident clinic and its utility in patient recruitment. Chief residents had an increase in the number of aesthetic surgery cases they performed after their clinic was featured on an online social media physician review website. This further reinforces the impact social media and an online presence have on plastic surgery training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-357
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • aesthetic surgery
  • plastic surgery
  • resident clinic
  • social media


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