Before we book a dinner reservation or select a hotel, many of us are inclined to log in to Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google to read reviews. We can see photos and read first hand experiences before confirming our plans. Many people have this same inclination when selecting a plastic surgeon in either Naples, Fort Myers, or beyond.
Surely these online reviews can be trusted and provide an accurate representation of the service (in this case surgery), we are likely to receive? Unfortunately, this might not be the case.
Know the Facts
A recent study from Northwestern University concluded online reviews can be misleading for 3 main reasons.
- Heated Emotions: Most online reviews are extremely polarizing. Many of us have experienced this ourselves simply when selecting the best steakhouse for dinner – people either had the best dinner of their lives or it was horrible! It seems it is human nature to only post a review for an experience at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
- Fake Patients: The study concluded many of the negative online reviews of plastic surgeons were posted by people who never had a surgical procedure with that office. These fake reviews can be difficult to recognize and lead to confusion.
- Misplaced Priorities: It is plausible a surgeon has been quietly practicing for many years and does not devote significant time to increasing his/her online presence. This surgeon may have only one review, while another, potentially less skilled, surgeon may focus solely on building up his online review presence.
How to Stay Safe
So where does this leave a patient? Here are a few main things to keep in mind while searching for a trusted surgeon.
- Ask Around: Recommendations from friends and family who had procedures with the surgeon are key. Firsthand experience from an actual patient (not an online “patient”) is invaluable.
- Look for Evidence: Ask to review the before and after photos of procedures performed by the surgeon. Ensure these photos are from treatments performed by the physician and not stock photos provided by a company.
- Do Research: Verify the physician is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- Trust Your Gut: After your consultation, if you have strong feelings, either positive or negative, follow your instincts. It is important to feel comfortable with the office and surgeon you are selecting.
Online reviews can certainly be one part of the equation in choosing a plastic surgeon, but they shouldn’t be trusted as a holy grail. Selecting a plastic surgeon is an important decision, and feeling comfort and trust with the physician performing the procedure helps ensure an optimal outcome.