In a world where voyeurs enjoy pimple-popping vids and women want to be Instagram famous, Michael Salzhauer, aka Dr. Miami, has capitalized on the zeitgeist. The social media surgeon-turned-reality TV star attracts millions of views as he broadcasts tummy tucks, breast augmentations, and Brazilian butt lifts from his South Florida practice. But is he the real deal or a shady figure looking for fifteen minutes of fame? Find out how the controversial plastic surgeon rose to prominence, and what he has to say to his critics.
Who Is Dr. Miami?
Dr. Michael Salzhauer is a board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of The Real Dr. Miami Associates, a private practice that offers cutting edge cosmetic surgery procedures.
Salzhauer, 48, graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and trained in plastic surgery at two Florida hospitals: Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and the Cleveland Clinic in Weston. He opened The Real Dr. Miami Associates in 2003, offering local women standard nose jobs and breast implants.
But around 2015, his daughter suggested he use Snapchat as a marketing tool.
“Almost exactly a year ago, my 15-year-old daughter said, ‘Dad, why don’t you try Snapchat? They have this feature called My Story and you can post snippets every day,'” Salzhauer told Forbes in 2015. “So I had nothing else to lose and that’s what we did.”
“The first My Story I posted was a girl getting a tummy tuck and it got 2,000 views,” he continued. “I went home and showed my daughter and she was like, ‘That’s a lot for Snapchat, usually people get like 20 views.’ So, the next day we did it again and the number of views grew. Within a month we had about 100,000 daily views, and now it’s up to 700,000 plus views every day.”
Salzhauer’s content is not what most people would expect from an MD. The doc performs procedures dressed in Gucci sunglasses and Yeezy kicks. Trap music plays in the background, and he jokes around with his staff as his patients’ bodies—their private parts strategically covered with emojis—are exposed for the world to see.
It’s an unusual formula but it works. Today, women across the country are desperate to go under the knife with Dr. Miami. Appointments are booked out a year in advance. Prospective patients who want a walk-in consultation must be among the first ten people to receive a wristband each morning. It sounds like the protocol for getting into a nightclub, which makes sense for a character like Salzhauer.
In 2016, he joined The Breakfast Club and discussed what sets his practice apart from others:
“There’s now hundreds of doctors doing it on Instagram and Snapchat,” he said. “They’re just copying… There’s been videos on YouTube of all these surgeries for years and years. They’re just boring—I do it with a little bit of flavor, a little bit of something engaging.”
Michael Salzhauer Stars As Himself In The Reality Series ‘Dr. Miami’
Salzhauer’s overnight success on social media led to bigger opportunities. In 2017, he starred in the We tv reality series Dr. Miami and the exposure undoubtedly helped boost his profile.
“I’m a goofy guy,” said Salzhauer in a 2017 interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’ve got this wacky personality that I was born with that people find entertaining.”
Wacky is one way to put it. The series often relied on the doctor’s gimmicky shtick to entertain viewers. Take this clip where he dresses like an Egyptian Pharaoh in his confessional, and then dons a Nordic Viking costume to talk to a patient.
Though the show only lasted for one six-episode season, Dr. Miami still remains in the public eye. A new documentary about the plastic surgeon called They Call Me Dr. Miami is set to premiere on Discovery+ on February 11.
Dr. Miami Is Also Known As The ‘Booty Whisperer’
Salzhauer revels in his nicknames: Dr. Miami, Dr. Schnoz, and the Booty Whisperer. But behind the clever branding and heavy-handed marketing tactics, he appears to be a responsible professional. In a 2017 article for Women’s Health, he shares some thoughtful takes on his profession.
For instance, he warns that it’s not a quick fix for obesity. He also advises some potential patients to consult with a psychologist before he agrees to work with them.
“There’s definitely some heavy, psychological baggage that goes along with the decision to make on surgery,” he said. “I try, on my first phone call with a patient, to get to the bottom of some of those issues.”
Salzhauer, who has had rhinoplasty and a chin implant himself, prides himself on empathizing with insecure patients. “I had self-image issues and self-confidence issues since adolescence,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have those feelings and to overcome those feelings through plastic surgery.”
Dr. Miami Is Nearly Crossing The Line On Social Media
Salzhauer may be popular, but he’s not immune to criticism. His Snapchat clips often come under fire for their uncensored, graphic nature. To watch them on YouTube, you must be cleared to watch age-restricted content.
“People have never seen these surgeries before,” he told Vanity Fair. “I remember the first time I saw one, I was mesmerized. [Some people tell me] they get a little high from it. There’s actual joy from watching people getting manipulated. Some people like that feeling of getting grossed out and losing control, too.”
Other skeptics who don’t like the idea of mixing surgery with social media point to potential privacy issues. Salzhauer told The Breakfast Club that it’s not an issue “as long as the patient gives permission, and you don’t put any identifying features.”
In fact, the doc says people want to see him for the very fact that their procedure might be broadcast on Snapchat.
“They ask me to shout out to their friends and play certain music,” he told Forbes. “It’s like performance art for them. Others might not mind their pictures being shown, so long as they’re not identifiable. And others just don’t want anything to do with social media. It’s completely their choice.”
Dr. Miami has taken a very modern—and perhaps questionable—approach to building his practice. But it turns out that boosting butt sizes on social media has unquestionably boosted his business. The husband and father of five has no regrets about his strategy.
“We are entertaining and educating at the same time, and that’s what sets us apart,” he said.