News Release

YouTube videos have problems with quality of information on cosmetic injectables

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Wolters Kluwer Health

February 28, 2022 – YouTube videos are the popular choice for online information on Botox and soft-tissue fillers – but these videos have ongoing problems with the quality of information provided, reports a study in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Videos produced by physicians are a better source of information than patient-based videos, according to the new research by ASPS Member Surgeon Robert D. Galiano, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues. Dr. Galiano comments: "Our study shows the need for improvement in the quality of YouTube videos related to cosmetic injectables, and plastic surgeons – already the most frequent contributors to online videos – are the most qualified to meet that need."

Patient-created videos 'should not be recommended' for information on injectables

Administration of "injectables" are the most common minimally invasive cosmetic procedures performed by plastic surgeons. According to ASPS statistics, injection of botulinum toxin type A (best known by the brand name Botox) was performed more than 4.4 million times in 2020, while injection of hyaluronic acid and other dermal fillers was performed more than 3.4 million times.

The explosive popularity of these procedures is driven largely by social media and other platforms. In particular, YouTube has become an increasingly important source of online health information. YouTube videos provide "a unique opportunity for plastic surgeons to educate thousands of patients in a thorough and vastly accessible manner," Dr. Galiano and colleagues write.

What's the quality of the online sources of information provided about cosmetic injectables? The researchers searched Google and YouTube to identify the highest-ranking websites and videos providing information about botulinum toxin type A and soft-tissue fillers.

The analysis included 95 YouTube videos: 50 on soft-tissue fillers and 45 on botulinum toxin type. Forty-seven percent of videos were contributed by plastic surgeons and other physicians, 6% by other health professionals, 24% by patients, and 22% by other sources, such as news media, online magazines, and social media influencers.

For each video and website, the quality of the information was graded using three standard tools plus a newly developed content score. Consistent with previous studies of online health information, the quality of the videos showed room for improvement. By all four measures, the videos met no more than half of quality criteria.

Quality also varied based on the source of the videos. Videos created by physicians, non-physician health professionals, and other sources such as news media had significantly higher quality scores than patient-based videos. On the content score, patient-based videos met only about 40% of quality criteria, compared to 55% for physician-based videos.

Although direct comparisons were difficult, websites identified on Google search offered higher quality of information than YouTube videos. Content scores were about 60% for injectable websites versus less than 40% for videos. Yet the YouTube videos were more popular, averaging about 16,000 views per month, compared to less than 4,000 views per month for websites.

The findings show that physician-created videos provide more reliable information – similar to those created by other health professionals as well as by influencers, news and magazine channels. "By comparison, videos created by patients are of lower quality," Dr. Galiano adds. "These patient-based videos, on YouTube or elsewhere, should not be recommended as sources of information on Botox or soft-tissue fillers."

The popularity of YouTube helps plastic surgeons to understand where to focus their online presence – practice websites may not be as influential as videos. Dr. Galiano and colleagues conclude: "YouTube can serve as an incredible asset to plastic surgeons to reach patients in a way that has never existed before, which comes with the responsibility of providing accurate, comprehensive, and understandable information."

Click here to read “Websites or Videos: Which Offer Better Information for Patients? A Comparative Analysis of the Quality of YouTube Videos and Websites for Cosmetic Injectables“

DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000008827


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For over 75 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® ( has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 7,000 physician members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the clinicians, nurses, accountants, lawyers, and tax, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with advanced technology and services.

Wolters Kluwer reported 2020 annual revenues of €4.6 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 19,200 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.

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