Google Search is an important tool for patients researching skin care treatments and finding dermatologists. Data from the 3 billion daily Google searches1 can be used to trend epidemiological patterns within populations using Google Trends (https://trends.google.com/trends; Alphabet Inc.), which reports search volume as relative to the total number of queries performed within a specific period or region. This tool has already been mobilized in dermatology to understand patterns in tanning,2 melanoma outcomes,3 and interest in Mohs surgery.4 In other industries, such as the automotive, real estate, retail, and travel industries, Google Trends is used regularly to forecast consumer demand.4 In this study, we apply Google Trends to correlate relative search volume with patient demand for botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid fillers.
On October 15, 2017, the keyword botox was used to quantify searches for botulinum toxin type a; [Hyaluronic acid + Juvederm + Perlane + Restylane + Prevelle] was used for hyaluronic acid soft tissue fillers. Queries were limited to those performed within the United States from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2016; all query categories were used. The following data was obtained: relative search volume (RSV) over time, RSV among states, and related queries searched for with the above terms.The annual number of procedures performed using hyaluronic acid based soft tissue fillers and botulinum toxin type A were obtained for the years 2005 through 2016.5 Annual RSVs were calculated by averaging all monthly RSVs in a given year. The Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient (p) was used to evaluate the association between the annual number of procedures and the annual RSV for the same year and the year prior with use of SPSS (version 23, IBM Inc, Armonk, NY).
The number of procedures performed using botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid soft tissue fillers correlated significantly with RSV in both the same year (p = 0.959; P less than .001 for botulinum toxin; p = 0.867; P less than .001 for hyaluronic acid soft tissue fillers) and year prior (p = 0.92; P < .001 for botulinum toxin; p = 0.827; P less than .001 for hyaluronic acid soft tissue fillers). The most frequently searched related queries and the regions with greatest search volumes for both procedures are reported in Figure 1. Those searching for botulinum toxin most commonly searched for information on cost, side effects, cosmetic results, and reviews of the treatment, while those searching for hyaluronic acid explored differences between brands and formulations. Florida was identified as the state with the highest RSV for both search queries.