YouTube has a plastic surgery misinformation problem.
Researchers at Rutgers University recently looked into the 240 most-watched facial plastic surgery videos on the platform, as reports The Independent. They found that those videos, which were presented as educational, were “mainly marketing campaigns,” said Dr. Boris Paskhover, a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School assistant professor who led the study.
While around 30% of the videos did include board-certified physicians, even those “may be marketing tools made to look like educational videos,” Paskhover added. Around 40% of the videos failed to feature even one qualified professional. In total, the 240 facial plastic surgery videos examined by Rutgers researchers — found using keywords like “lip fillers,” “rhinoplasty,” and “nose job” — had been watched over 160 million times. The Rutgers study was published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
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“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,” Paskhover said.
As evidence of the type of misleading videos that are proliferating on YouTube right now, a search for “facial plastic surgery” first returns a clip from July 2016 by Nikita Dragun, in which the transgender influencer — who has over 1.6 million subscribers — discusses her facial feminization surgery. It appears to be a straightforward vlog, but in the video’s description, she includes a link to the doctor’s office where the surgery was performed. As Paskhover noted, “YouTube is for marketing.”