When most doctors post on their practice’s social media page, they expect a handful of likes from people in their local community. Maybe a comment or two. A share, if they’re really lucky.
Dr. Chris Khorsandi is different.
This Las Vegas-based plastic surgeon has built an Instagram following of over 175,000 people, and when he puts up a picture or a video on his @DocVegas account, it brings in thousands of engagements, hundreds of thousands of views, and a steady stream of business to his practice.
Over the past several years, Khorsandi has turned himself into a genuine Instagram influencer. He’s now the preferred plastic surgeon of celebrities and influencers the world over, and his unique style of content has demystified and destigmatized plastic surgery for countless millennials.
So how did he manage to go from new plastic surgeon to Instagram sensation? It’s simple: he made plastic surgery sexy.
Getting Beyond Boring
Khorsandi didn’t achieve social media fame overnight. In fact, his early attempts were consistently discouraging.
“When you have an instinct for something and you see the general trends going towards social, you realize somehow, someway, this has gotta work,” he says. “But there was a lot of discouragement in those early days.”
Khorsandi started his social presence with Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. But the results were dismal. He saw almost no traction, and any engagement he did get wouldn’t come from people actually seeking plastic surgery.
Looking back, Dr. K thinks part of the problem was the content he was posting.
“In the beginning we did a lot of stock imagery, corny jokes that wouldn’t offend anyone – really boring stuff,” he explains. “We were playing it very safe and very conservative, and we got no interest and no traction.”
But when he switched to Instagram in 2016, he experimented with different content formats. And then everything started to change.
“The whole concept of memes really took off with Instagram,” says Dr. K. “So I thought ok, if the boring stuff isn’t working, maybe this will.”
With that in mind, Khorsandi started to post memes and satirical content about plastic surgery to his Instagram page. In those days, no one else in plastic surgery was doing that – and his account grew rapidly, reaching 20,000 followers by the end of the first year.
The Switch to Video
But Khorsandi wanted to take it further.
“I knew I wanted to get into video, because I thought that was the most effective marketing format for Instagram,” says Dr. K. “But I wanted it to be different – I wanted to give it the Hollywood treatment.”
So he did. Khorsandi crafted a format of 1-minute infotainment videos that outlined plastic surgery procedures in specific detail, but with a look and feel closer to MTV than to a doctor’s office.
“Honestly, it was just something that I artistically liked,” says Dr. K.
And apparently, so did Instagram.
With the introduction of the video content, @DocVegas exploded. Very quickly, posts started to go viral and bring in tens of thousands of new followers. That led to major Instagram influencers reaching out to Khorsandi for procedures – which in turn brought in more influencers, more followers, and more business.
Dr. Khorsandi had made plastic surgery sexy, and that skyrocketed him to fame on social media. And soon enough, he wasn’t alone.
Spreading the Trend
It didn’t take long for other plastic surgeons to notice Dr. Khorsandi’s success. And now, plastic surgeons all over the field are adopting his same tactics in order to build a following on social media – and it’s working.
Following in Khorsandi’s footsteps, there are now multiple plastic surgeons who’ve built followings in the tens of thousands by using the same kind of culturally-literate, stylized approach to Instagram content.
“With the number of physicians who’ve started doing plastic surgery on Instagram, at this point it’s almost ubiquitous,” says Dr. K.
And they’re eager to learn.
“It’s funny, I’ve become kind of the de-facto expert on this for my industry,” he chuckles. “I was in Russia last year for a conference and I gave a couple of lectures on more technical science stuff, but I did one on social media – and everyone was much more interested in that.”
Khorsandi’s radical approach to marketing his practice didn’t just lift him to stardom: it’s changed his industry. What was once seen as ‘beneath’ the standards of the aesthetic surgery industry is now standard practice.
But Khorsandi isn’t surprised.
“The society we live in is changing,” he says. “Look at how TV viewership is plummeting – eyeballs are going online.”
Dr. Khorsandi sees all of this as part of a larger trend in how our interaction with media, and even the way we live our lives, is changing. And he sees much more change in the future.
“The final frontier for this someday may be massive multiplayer online games,” he says. “After all, Netflix’s biggest competitor isn’t actually HBO – it’s Fortnite.”
But press a bit, and you find that Khorsandi is thinking even farther ahead than that.
“Today we have the issue of people paying attention, and that used to be a euphemism,” he explains. “But now people’s attentions are so divided – the future may be we have to pay people to watch.”
That’s not necessarily a future he’s excited for. But if there’s one thing that led Khorsandi to his current Insta-fame, it’s his ability to spot and understand a trend before those around him and his ability to think outside of the current status quo.
“As the behavior of the consumer changes, what they do online, we have to adapt to that as we go along,” he says.
It’s a strange idea. But with how ubiquitous social networks are in modern life, it’s easy to forget that they’ve only been around for 10 years. We’re still in the infancy of this technology.
It’s impossible to know how it will change and develop as we move into the future – and we probably won’t understand its full effects for decades to come.
“I think about Black Mirror and I wonder if all this is for better or for worse,” he says, pondering.
“But the future will be interesting, I can tell you that much.”