Background: The role of plastic surgery as a specialty may not be clearly understood by the public, making it difficult to distinguish from other medical specialties. The objective of the current study was to explore the public perception of plastic surgery in a rapidly growing developing country.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Saudi Arabia through an online survey, which was developed and distributed to the Saudi public through social media over the period of two months (October - November 2017). Participants were asked to match 12 medical and surgical procedures to the most qualified specialist to perform the procedure.
Results: A total of 4842 participants responded to the survey. Females comprised 75% of the respondents. The age distribution was as follows: age 55 years (1%). The majority had a college degree (57%). The proportion of respondents who ranked plastic surgeons as the most qualified in performing the following procedures: rhinoplasty (39%), mandible fracture (5%), blepharoplasty (78%), cleft lip surgery (61%), thumb replantation (29%), hand/finger fracture (6%), rhytidectomy (83%), breast reconstruction (89%), breast augmentation (97%), open leg wound (24%), open wound on the face (54%), and botulinum toxin injections (61%). Plastic surgeons ranked highest in the following 7 of the 12 domains: blepharoplasty, cleft lip and palate surgery, rhytidectomy, breast reconstruction, breast augmentation, treatment of open wound of the face and botulinum toxin injections.
Conclusion: Large gaps in public education about the roles of plastic surgeons exist which may warrant more effective societal interventions.
Key words: Public Perception; Plastic Surgery; Rapidly Growing Developing Country; Saudi Arabia