Social Media Savvy: Jennifer Levine, M.D.

In our March 2024 profile feature, Jennifer Levine, M.D., dives into rewriting female beauty standards and the spread of misinformation with social media.
In our March 2024 profile feature, Jennifer Levine, M.D., dives into rewriting female beauty standards and the spread of misinformation with social media.
Photo courtesty of Jennifer Levine, M.D.

Originally from Brooklyn, renowned facial plastic surgeon, Jennifer Levine, M.D., has had an impressive career in medical aesthetics spanning over two decades and one of the top practices on the upper east side of Manhattan, New York. However, her initial interest lay in the world of art before she decided to enter the field of medicine as an adult. She states, “I was primarily more interested in art growing up. When I was younger, I took a lot of art classes, specifically in portraits. I spent a lot of time on the bus or subway, so I would be sketching the person across from me and I would kind of fix the picture a little bit. Then as I went through school, I really loved math and science. I liked the precision and the learning of it. Then I found aesthetics was kind of the blend of art, math and science, merging all three together into one overarching field.”

After first earning her bachelor's degree with honors from Columbia University, followed by her doctorate from Cornell University Medical College, where she was elected to join the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society, Dr. Levine went on to do her general surgery residency at Lenox Hill Hospital and her residency in Otolaryngology at Manhattan Ear, Eye and Throat Hospital, which she completed at New York University as chief resident. She then trained with top surgeons in her field while serving as a fellow in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at New York University Hospital.

Social Media Savvy Adobe Stock 507701821 GstockstudioImage by gstockstudio at Adobe Stock

This impressive background has given Dr. Levine a deep understanding of facial anatomy and made her one of the top female New York City facial plastic surgeons. With her philosophy of enhancing an individual’s face as a whole while maintaining an appreciation for each patient’s unique facial features, she does not believe in changing a patient’s face to fit into a particular aesthetic trend or standard while discarding their uniquely beautiful individual features. Dr. Levine stands out as a professional and expert industry presence on social media, working to counteract the spread of harmful disinformation, educating patients on what information is correct and what is not when it comes to viral social media beauty trends and DIY treatments. Her social media efforts have garnered much attention, making her a leading authority in the field of aesthetics in particular on how to utilize social media as a medical professional to counter the rising spread of misinformation. She now speaks to the need for more representation from female aesthetic practitioners to change the beauty standards currently dictated by mostly male practitioners, and help dictate more women-centric beauty standards.

The Dissemination of Information on Social Media

It’s not surprising with all of the viral beauty trends and misinformation about DIY and professional aesthetic treatments and skin care that learning how to navigate social media is a hot topic at the moment.

Dr. Levine understands just how significant an impact social media has on beauty standards, with it serving as one of the primary influences in changing aesthetic standards. One example she gives is the change in the preferred ratio for lips, which has a major impact on patients’ interest in injectable filler treatments to enhance lips. While the preferred lip ratio was previously 1:1.6, social media has had a direct impact on changing the overall preferred lip ratio to 1:1.

This consistent exposure to specific aesthetic standards on social media results in a perception drift in patients, skewing their understanding of what is actually normal when it comes to individual beauty as opposed to the images they see on social media. It is important to note that these posts causing a perception drift are not from physicians but rather celebrities and social media influencers without any formal education in medical aesthetics.

Adobe Stock 168732985Image by Dmitrii Kotin at Adobe StockDr. Levine reveals that one of the biggest culprits behind this perception drift is the monumental surge in the use of photo filters, which affect certain aesthetic standards such as the change in preferred lip ratio to 1:1, a result of automatic enhancements made by photo filters. Physicians now have the vital responsibility to address the impact of social media aesthetic standards with patients, educating them on what is aesthetically normal for their individual characteristics and manage patient expectations for achieving individual aesthetic goals. 

Dr. Levine explains, “That is the problem with the dissemination of information. Without education you’re not able to know what’s right or what’s not right, so I think that all we can do is try to continue to educate people so they’re able to make informed decisions about what’s right and what’s wrong because we can’t prevent the dissemination of information. All we can do is try to give people a framework of what to do with that information, which is tricky, but that’s what we need to do. We need to continue to highlight qualified people giving correct opinions. People can’t always distinguish that.”

On the bright side, the very tool being used incorrectly to negatively impact aesthetic standards and the spread of detrimental disinformation about various cosmetic treatments for beauty enhancement as well as skin conditions can be used by qualified medical aesthetics professionals to correct the harmful information being spread by celebrities and social media influencers. 

4 Tips for Aesthetics Practitioners Navigating Social Media

1. Stay Current on Social Media Trends

Dr. Levine emphasizes the need for aesthetic practitioners to know exactly how people are using social media, who makes up the demographics of social media users depending on the platform, what kind of content they are attracted to and the influence qualified professionals utilizing social media have on individuals looking to these social platforms for information on aesthetic trends and treatments.  

According to Dr. Levine, 80% of Gen Z and 75% of Millennials surveyed are actively looking to social media for content on cosmetic procedures. When it comes to the demographics of social platform preferences, Dr. Levine points to a study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal (February 2023) that found older generations (ages 36-70) are more likely to use Facebook and Instagram while younger patients (ages 17-35) tend to gravitate towards TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.2 Income also plays a factor, with patients in the $200,000+ income range more likely to use Instagram and patients with incomes of $200,000 or less gravitating towards Facebook. This leads us to Dr. Levine’s first piece of advice for practitioners seeking to better navigate social media:Adobe Stock 63496949 Milles StudioImage by Milles Studio at Adobe Stock

Make sure to stay up to date on social media trends. With so many individuals turning to social media for their information on the latest aesthetic trends, it is vital providers stay informed of those social media trends influencing patients. Dr. Levine shares, “I think that practitioners are not understanding how people are really using social media as search engines. They’re getting their information from social media. It’s not only a way for them to look at what their friends are doing or see what outfit is trending. They’re getting information from social media, so they’re better off getting information from qualified people. People of all ages are into social media, so it’s not just young people. It’s everybody. People used to think TikTok was only for teenagers, but it’s not. Your grandmother can be on TikTok; anyone can be on these platforms.” 

2. Use Social Media to Educate Patients

One example she gives is a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (May 2023) that explores the patient perceptions and preferences of aesthetic providers on social media. The study found that 32% of patients that viewed posts by practitioners decided to receive treatment, with 57% of those surveyed being female and 43% male. According to Dr. Levine, 87% of patients prefer to see before and after photos of treatments and 67% want to see personal content from aesthetic providers.1 With that, Dr. Levine goes into her second tip for providers when navigating social media:

Consistently use prevalent social media platforms to educate patients on what’s right and wrong. From warning patients away from using viral DIY treatments such as vacuuming one’s lips to plump them up to advising younger patients that slugging is not the best skin care trend to use on younger skin, putting your expert voice out there is the only way to counteract the spread of disinformation on social media.

Dr. Levine advises, “My main goal with social media is to educate, so I’m there to either explain something or let someone know some factual information. That isn’t to say I won’t do some more trendy videos sometimes, but the primary goal is to educate people and let them know what something really is, how it really works and why they should or should not do it.” She adds, “I think you just have to continue doing that, and the people who are interested in education will find their way and people who are interested in these other whacky trends are going to be drawn to them. But, social media is really a conversation. It’s a way for patients just to get to know you, so it’s better to put something out that is about you or what you stand for so they then know you. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Doing something is better than nothing. Do anything; do something. It’s not about what or how often or what time. Just keep going.”

3. Prioritize Mental Well-Being & Human Connection

Let patients see the real you through social media and inspire genuine human connection. This helps patients feel safe confiding in you prior to consultations. Ask open ended questions during initial patient consultations, and get to know more about your patient's motivations to make sure they are not solely driven by social media fads. 

Dr. Levine explains the importance of sharing personal content on social media that allows patients to connect with who you are as a person, “I think it’s that we’re looking to connect with people through social media. We are looking for human connection, and that’s why having something that’s real or accurate or that especially represents who you are is so important. Sharing really is all about taking off a part of your armor and saying and showing people who you really are.” 

Adobe Stock 215069688 AntonImage by Anton at Adobe StockShe continues, sharing why allowing yourself to be a bit vulnerable in your social media posts helps you provide better patient care, “If you really want people to connect to you or be able to confide in you, to share personal details about themselves in consultations, it’s important for you to do the same. Otherwise, people don’t know who you are; they don’t know you as a person. That doesn’t allow people to feel like they have a sense of who you are and what you’re about before coming in, which requires a certain level of comfort. I think that makes people feel safer - and isn’t that what we’re about, making people feel safer? How can they feel safe if they don’t know you? I think that it’s very hard to share these personal things when we as practitioners don’t normally do that, but it’s not what connection is about. Connection is about actually allowing people to see who you are, and to put something out there on social media that isn’t necessarily perfect or filtered because that’s not real either.”

Another significant element of utilizing social media to educate patients and counteract harmful disinformation being spread and influencing today’s aesthetic standards, particularly for women, is that it allows people to dictate society’s beauty standards that don’t necessarily represent the demographic seeking to adhere to these beauty standards. The question of who is dictating female beauty standards is an important one to consider. Dr. Levine states that while 92% of medical aesthetics patients are female, the industry is still made up of primarily male providers, male providers that are essentially contributing to the current beauty standards for women. More female providers not only entering the medical aesthetics industry, but utilizing social media to educate patients can help dictate more women-centric beauty standards.

4. Manage Patient Expectations

Use 3D imaging technology to do a full facial analysis, showing patients how they actually appear in contrast to their photo-filtered appearance, and how certain asymmetrical rather than symmetrical features enhance an individual's beauty.

Dr. Levine emphasizes the importance of maintaining a patient’s unique identity and enhancing their natural features rather than seeking to perfect them. Helping patients see the beauty in their unique features rather than the perfect aesthetic look they may be seeking because of the influence of beauty standards dictated on social media is a major aspect of educating patients and counteracting the spread of disinformation and unrealistic aesthetic goals. She states, “Because I’m a surgeon, I’m always concerned about the deeper anatomy of the face, so utilizing treatments that will treat those deeper layers, not just the skin and the fat pads is important. Retaining the person’s innate identity is also important. Whether that is their ethnicity, or they might have a feature that is a little more dominant, but really gives that person’s face that interest and unique beauty, you don’t want to necessarily take that away. You want to make the whole face look better, and that’s not about making things look perfect. That’s about enhancing the face overall, so facial balance is very important.”

Be Authentic & Stick to Your Strengths

Dr. Levine leaves us with this last piece of advice for aesthetic providers seeking to navigate the changing trends of social media.

She states, “It’s a very trite thing to say to be authentic, but for example, I was in this beautiful hotel room, and I took a picture of my breakfast and put it on my instagram story. Someone came up to me later and said, ‘What a beautiful breakfast you had!’ So, this shows how people want to see something that’s real. Is it the most interesting breakfast in the world, maybe not, but it shows what I was doing. I think that people are better able to relate to you if you’re able to make yourself slightly vulnerable. I think social media is not about being perfect. I think that people shouldn’t be afraid to put something out there. Just do it instead of worrying about if it isn’t something you love or if you look your best.”

Dr. Levine advises sticking to your strengths when approaching your own content on social media and the daunting vulnerability in putting yourself out there for the world to see. She admits, “I can’t really do a TikTok dance for example. I’ve tried and I’m not really good at dancing, I’m not going to get it right and it’s not really who I am. I’m not doing TikTok dances on a regular basis. I think you have to just stay in your lane and play to your particular strengths when creating posts for social media.”


1. Murphrey M, Dayan S, Aguilera SB, Fabi S. Patient Preferences and Perceptions Concerning Aesthetic Providers and Social Media. Aesthet Surg J. 2023 May 15;43(6):704-709. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjad037. PMID: 36804673.

2. Shauly O, Marxen T, Goel P, Gould DJ. The New Era of Marketing in Plastic Surgery: A Systematic Review and Algorithm of Social Media and Digital Marketing. Aesthet Surg J Open Forum. 2023 Feb 28;5:ojad024. doi: 10.1093/asjof/ojad024. PMID: 37033450; PMCID: PMC10078152.

More in Business