Hair salons, barbers, dentists and non-certified physicians market are increasingly advertising cosmetic surgery procedures on photo-sharing website Instagram, putting people's lives at risk of death, researchers say.
The study showed that only 18 percent of top plastic surgery-related posts on Instagram were by board-certified plastic surgeons.
Whereas, the majority (26.4 percent) of providers advertising aesthetic surgery services on Instagram are not board certified-plastic surgeons and included dermatologists, general surgeons, gynecologists, who marketed themselves as cosmetic surgeons.
Another 5.5 percent were non-physicians, including dentists, spas with no associated physician and a hair salon.
"Providers — ranging from physicians who are not licensed in plastic surgery to dentists, hair salon employees and barbers — are doing procedures for which they do not have formal or extensive training. That's extremely dangerous for the patient," said lead author Robert Dorfman, medical student at Northwestern University in Illinois, US.
The ads particularly affect young people, who increasingly want to improve their appearance for Instagram, Snapchat and other social media channels, but often do not understand who is qualified to perform procedures, the researchers said, adding that "this is a very scary finding".
"The blood vessel supply in the body is very intricate. If you accidentally inject something into a vein and it then goes into your lungs, it can kill you," Dorfman added.
For the study, published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the team examined a total of 1,789,270 posts which utilised 21 plastic surgery-related hashtags on Instagram.
Board certified plastic surgeons were significantly more likely to post educational content (32.9 percent) to Instagram as compared to non-plastic surgeons, whose posts were self-promotional (67.1 percent).
"Someone uninformed might think - why do I need to pay higher fees for a board-certified physician to do injections or fillers?" Dorfman said.