A Texas-based plastic surgeon is giving the world an up-close look at his cosmetic procedures. He’s Periscoping, Snapchatting and going live on Facebook during operations with permission from patients.
Esmerelda Garcia lost 100 pounds on her own. Now, to remove saggy skin, she will undergo a 7-hour operation: a breast augmentation, tummy tuck and butt lift at once.
And she will have an audience.
“Might as well get it all over with,” said the Houston-area grandmother.
Garcia chose her doctor based on what she’s viewed online.
“I’ve been following him for years on YouTube and I have him on all my social media: Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope,” said Garcia of Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Wilberto Cortes, otherwise known as Dr. Hourglass.
Known for giving women that desired curvy, hourglass shape, he slices and sculpts—all while posting to social media.
“People really enjoy seeing some of the surgeries that they want to have,” said Dr. Cortes.
Think of it as a VIP seat—a peek behind the curtain—at someone’s most vulnerable and intimate moments. And, he’s pulling outrageous numbers. One of the videos from his YouTube channel got more than one million views.
“Yeah, we get a lot of views and it keeps getting better," said Dr. Cortes.
As it turns out, putting it all out there is proving good for business.
“We get people watching from overseas and they come [for surgery],” said Dr. Cortes. “We're booked for up to a year.”
And, legally, he’s protected.
“There’s really no problem, it's up to the patient,” said Healthcare attorney Jeff Drummond, who emphasized that as long as patients consent to being filmed and showcased online - and 80% of Cortes’ patients do - doctors are safe.
“[Doctors] want to communicate to the patients how the information is going to be used and make sure the patient is really going to understand the risk and the possibilities going forward,” said Drummond.
But who would consent to appearing bare, online-- while on the operating table?
“I wanted to see it,” said Sofia Sanhueza who got liposuction then fat transferred to her buttock. Her surgery was all over Snapchat. She was willing to do it to educate viewers, all in the name of science.
“I don't care if it's me or someone else's body,” said Sanhueza. “I think it's really interesting what you can do with the human body.”
Back in the operating room, we are an hour into watching Garcia’s procedure from a few feet away. Cortes has a staff member Periscoping while the doctor answers questions from his viewers, scalpel in hand.
Also keeping a close eye from the waiting room - is Garcia’s husband.
Cortes said he is careful to cover certain body parts as much as possible – but he is showing cosmetic procedures so the nature of the content is raw.
“We cover the nipples many times, particularly if we post it to Facebook,” said Cortes who added that Facebook is more strict than Twitter’s Periscope function when it comes to what you can or can’t show. As for the silly names of his YouTube channels? He said it’s all marketing. A way to stand out.
“You have to give it a little bit of humor,” he said. “So this is a new way that we can educate patients.”
Patients like Garcia who end up less nervous and more confident about undergoing complicated surgery after watching others do the same.
On your phone? Click to watch WFAA's Facebook chat where Dr. Cortes answers your questions.