By Maureen Francisco
Once upon a time, aesthetic professionals who worked on celebrities could enjoy seeing their handiwork in the public eye while remaining comfortably out of the spotlight. Not anymore. Between social media and reality TV, what was once a highly private matter is now increasingly high-profile and considered ready for primetime.
This presents both hazards and potential benefits for cosmetic surgeons because that “increased exposure” can have both business and legal ramifications.
Consider the buzz around the reality show Plastic Wives on TLC, which has brought the discipline into living rooms across the country. As the title of the show suggests, it’s the spouses of the surgeons who get top billing but they’re not the only ones who may see a boost in their “ratings.”
Not yet do I feel like a celeb but I would, no doubt, be very gracious if the show does bring more exposure and prosperity to my business, says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Ryan Stanton, who has received a shot of instant fame by being on the show. Either way, being professional and ethical as well as a gentleman remains at the top of my list as a board certified plastic surgeon.
But these days, doctors’ personal lives can end up under the microscope even if they’re not on TV, thanks to the Internet and the rise of social media. “[Being a doctor] does not stop when we turn out the lights at night,” says Dr. Christopher Khorsandi, who operates a practice in Las Vegas.
Unlike Hollywood, there’s no paparazzi following Khorsandi, but he’s followed in other ways thanks to the popularity of social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and so on.
That can be a good thing, says Dr. Khorsandi, because it means he has a wider reach and is able to attract patients from all over the world. More exposure means more opportunities.
But Internet recognition — a form of celebrity status in its own right — also means that doctors could run into a future patient unknowingly. That could be a “friend” on Facebook, via a “like” on RealSelf or by sharing photos or comments in an inappropriate manner.
Being a doctor is not a job, it’s a vocation, says Khorsandi. Thus, it is imperative that we keep our white coats neatly pressed at all times.
So how can doctors ensure that their “celebrity status” doesn’t land them in the tabloids or, worse yet, court?
- Make sure there’s no questionable verbiage on any social media sites.
- Do a second take on pictures. For example, if you are holding a glass of water, would other people interpret that as alcohol?
- Manage your reputation online. A site like RealSelf allows you to give answers in your authentic voice where potential patients can read them.
- Understand what you do in your personal life may lead people to judge your professional life too.
- Grasp that the Internet is forever. If you think something might be even remotely inappropriate, don’t post it, don’t upload it, don’t do it. When in doubt, go another route.
- Be nice. When people don’t like something, they tell everybody. When people like something, they tell everybody. Don’t yell at people. Don’t use profanity with customer relations. You get the idea.
Maureen Francisco is a Sr. Doctor Community Advisor on RealSelf, a journalist and author of It Takes Moxie: Off the Boat, Or Out of School, To Making it Your Way in America, which outlines how to achieve the American dream, using stories of successful immigrants and those who came from humble beginnings. Maureen has contributed online for major publications like Forbes and Huffington Post.