The Prospective Patient: Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Review Sites
When it comes to cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures there seems to be two major treatment review sites, RealSelf and RealPatientRatings. While some people claim that doctors have more control over these sites than patients do, and that reviews can be deceptive, these sites play an integral role in the prospective patient’s search for specific treatments, and the doctors they will use to perform the procedure. When reading treatment reviews, the prospective patient must keep the following in mind:
- No matter how routine the procedure, the results will differ. Every individual is unique and has a different threshold for pain, expectations for a final result, and their own idea of how they should be treated by their physician. The list could go on forever! Just remember in your search for answers, set your own expectations.
- Often, people who take the time to write a review are either extremely happy or extremely disappointed with the result of their treatment. You must take into account that you will likely never know the reviewer’s situation. For example, the individual who is writing the review may be going through cancer or have to have treatment due to an injury.
- You cannot rule out the fact that there may be individuals who are paid to write reviews.
While there are a variety or resources such as social media or discussion forums that the prospective patient can utilize to gather information prior to their treatment, RealSelf and RealPatientRatings appear to be the most authoritative sites for reviews. These sites not only provide treatment reviews but also information ranging from doctor information to personalized answers from medical experts. The following is an overview of what each site offers:
Founded in 2006, RealSelf has created an online community for learning and sharing information about cosmetic surgery, and has been compared to a hybrid of Yelp and Facebook. People write reviews, post before-and-after photos, share the price of the procedure, and the doctor who did the work or treatment. People share their stories to show their success with cosmetic procedures, expose doctors or treatments that did not turn out with positive results, and look for support among those in the RealSelf community. With Realself, you can search by treatment like a “Mommy Makeover” or “Invisalign,” find a doctor, or “ask a doctor” and get personalized answers from medical experts. RealSelf members can rate their treatment as “Worth It”, “Not Sure”, or “Not Worth It.” After an initial review is posted, people can make comments, ask questions, like the review, and follow the reviewer’s progress. You do not have to join the site to browse around, but if you would like to see before and after pictures, post your own review, or “ask a doctor”, you must set up an account.
There have been negative comments about RealSelf, such as the site making all of its money off of advertisements for doctors, and wrongfully removing accounts that post negative reviews. Some have even gone so far as to say that reviews on RealSelf are “deceptive and real dangerous.”
Although RealPatientRatings provides similar information to RealSelf, reviews generated by RealPatientRatings come from a survey completed by patients who have completed a qualified visit to a doctor’s office. Which means not just anyone can go online and write a review through RealPatientRatings, and participating providers cannot selectively choose which patients will be surveyed. According to RealPatientRatings, it is the only “100% verified patient reviews website” and in April, 2013 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) announced that it teamed up with RealPatientRatings.
Both of these sites are informative resources for the prospective patient. Whether you are just thinking about a treatment or have already scheduled a consultation with your provider, sites such as these can arm you with the information you need to make the decision that is best for you. Just remember that you are unique and just because someone had a bad (or good) treatment or doctor experience, does not mean that you will have the same result