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Study: Video Sites May Not Be the Best Place to Get Information About Cosmetic Procedures

Study: Video Sites May Not Be the Best Place to Get Information About Cosmetic Procedures

Results of a new study from Rutgers University reveal that individuals doling out cosmetic surgery information on YouTube are frequently not qualified to advise on procedures.

During the study, the Rutgers researchers viewed the top 240 videos that contained keywords such as "facial fillers," "dermal fillers," "face-lift" and "eyelid surgery."

These 240 videos had a combined 160 million views.

They found that many of the "advice-sharing" videos were really marketing campaigns and not educational pieces. As a result, millions of people who use YouTube as a resource for facial cosmetic surgery procedures end up missing critical information about risks, alternative options and more.

Researchers next reviewed the individuals who posted the videos and separated them into the following categories: medical professionals, patients or other third-party individuals.

The results of their analysis found that the majority of the videos used in the study did not feature a medical professional certified to perform the procedures that were depicted or performed.

They also found that 94 of the 240 videos did not show a medical professional at all. Instead, they showed laypeople performing or talking about cosmetic procedures.

Videos posted by board-certified cosmetic professionals were often marketing collateral rather than educational pieces.

The Rutgers researchers are using their findings as a reason to caution YouTube users that the videos they come across on the popular online video-sharing platform may be biased. They advise people to seek out information about cosmetic procedures from qualified professionals and to research physicians using credentialing organizations or state medical boards.

Dr. Bill Johnson, a cosmetic physician in Dallas, stresses the importance of getting correct information about procedures from qualified providers.

"Trained and certified cosmetic physicians have the knowledge and the experience to perform cosmetic procedures," he says.

Johnson also says patients seeking specific procedures should find providers trained in that particular procedure.

"If you want to get dermal fillers or Botox, you should find a provider who knows how to correctly place the injections to not only make sure your results look good, but also because incorrectly administered injections can result in serious consequences," Johnson says.

In 2017, the UK newspaper The Sun reported that a 30-year-old woman nearly lost her lip after receiving a dermal filler injection at a salon. After the injection, which was placed into a blood vessel, the woman experienced numbness and swelling and her lip turned black.

In the United States, dozens of cases are reported each year of cosmetic procedures gone awry at the hands of unqualified providers. Bad results, complications and several deaths have been reported in recent years.

"A little research into whom you are considering can go a long way. It may even save your life," Johnson says.

The YouTube study is not Rutgers' first regarding cosmetic procedures. In a study earlier this year, the university investigated how selfies distort the appearance and how that distortion drives the demand for cosmetic procedures.

This previous study revealed how selfies taken at a distance of 12 inches from the face can cause the base tip of the nose to appear 7 percent wider and the base of the nose to appear 30 percent wider.

The Rutgers team connected selfie distortion to an increased risk of individuals developing body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition that causes individuals to obsess and fixate on a perceived flaw in their appearance.

Economic Times. Do you turn to YouTube for advice on cosmetic surgery procedures? Beware, they are misleading. 18 August 2018.

Live Science. Selfies Distort Your Face by 30% — And Here's the Math to Back It Up. 1 March 2018

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