Do you turn to YouTube for advice on cosmetic surgery procedures? Beware, most of these are misleading marketing campaigns posted by non-qualified medical professionals, researchers have warned.
Researchers at the Rutgers University found that the millions of people who turn to YouTube as a source for education on facial plastic surgery receive a false understanding that does not include the risks of alternative options.
"Videos on facial plastic surgery may be mainly marketing campaigns and may not fully be intended as educational," said lead author Boris Paskhover, Assistant Professor at the varsity.
For the study, the team evaluated 240 top-viewed videos with 160 million combined views that resulted from keyword searches for 'blepharoplasty', 'eyelid surgery', 'dermal fillers', 'facial fillers', 'otoplasty', 'ear surgery', 'rhytidectomy', 'facelift', 'lip augmentation', 'lip fillers', "rhinoplasty' and/or 'nose job'.
The researchers also evaluated the people who posted the videos, including whether they were health care professionals, patients or third parties.
A majority of videos did not include professionals qualified in the procedures portrayed, including 94 videos with no medical professional at all.
Even videos posted by legitimate board-certified surgeons may be marketing tools made to look like educational videos, Paskhover noted.
"Patients and physicians who use YouTube for educational purposes should be aware that these videos can present biased information, be unbalanced when evaluating risks versus benefits and be unclear about the qualifications of the practitioner," he said.
"YouTube is for marketing. The majority of the people who post these videos are trying to sell you something," he stated.