The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has recently announced a review into cosmetic surgery checks and balances, including into the use of social media, after a joint investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Four Corners.

Over the last 15 months, consumer research advocates Michael Fraser and Maddison Johnstone have monitored hundreds of public social media accounts of doctors who do cosmetic surgery in Australia.

This social media research reflected some unnerving conclusions, including that some doctors who do cosmetic surgery appear to prioritise popularity, publicity, and internet fame over patient safety, dignity, and care.

Cosmetic surgery is part of a consumer-driven industry that can result in temporary or permanent injury and pain, disfigurement, significant health consequences, and other poor outcomes. Social media advertising rarely reflects this.

A number of concerning conclusions were drawn from this research into the use of social media by doctors who do cosmetic surgery, three of which include:

  • Audiences are left with the impression that cosmetic surgery can cure poor self-esteem,
  • Patient privacy and dignity are neglected, and
  • Cosmetic surgery is marketed to audiences which include children.

It is expected the use of social media to advertise cosmetic surgery will continue to come under scrutiny. Regulatory reform is needed, especially given the booming nature of cosmetic surgery and the prominence of visual platforms like TikTok and Instagram.


Further comment:

  • Michael Fraser 0458 369 975
  • Maddison Johnstone 0434 003 822

Published: 30 November 2021