Electronic Communication in Plastic Surgery: Guiding Principles from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Health Policy Committee

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With the advancement of technology, electronic communication has become an important mode of communication within plastic and reconstructive surgery. This can take the form of e-mail, text messaging, video conferencing, and social media, among others. There are currently no defined American Society of Plastic Surgeons guidelines for appropriate professional use of these technologies.


A search was performed on PubMed and the Cochrane database; terms included “telemedicine,” “text messaging,” “HIPAA,” “metadata,” “video conferencing,” “photo sharing,” “social media,” “Facebook,” “Twitter,” and “Instagram.” Initial screening of all identified articles was performed; the level of evidence, limitations, and recommendations were evaluated and articles were reviewed.


A total of 654 articles were identified in the level I screening process; after more comprehensive review, 41 articles fit inclusion criteria: social networking, 12; telemedicine, 11; text messaging, 10; metadata, four; video conferencing, three; and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, one. General themes were identified from these articles and guidelines proposed.


Electronic communication can provide an efficient method of information exchange for professional purposes within plastic surgery but should be used thoughtfully and with all professional, legal, and ethical considerations.

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