Reviews are one of the first things a potential customer or client look at before choosing any business or service to carry out work for them. However, that approach needs to be exercised with caution when you’re researching your plastic surgeon. In fact, it was such an issue that the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) no longer allows posting of reviews or testimonials on surgeon or doctor websites. We take a look at how to empower patients by understanding reviews and testimonials.
Just because surgeons and practitioners can’t post reviews on their own website doesn’t mean that when you do a search for a surgeon that reviews won’t come up. It just means these reviews and testimonials will be on third party websites, and in the world of plastic surgery there are plenty of dedicated review sites, social media groups and forums willing to post them. Unfortunately, this information can be deceptive.
Dr Amira Sanki from Southern Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says they prefer to encourage patients to seek the opinion of their local doctor, friends and family as they are genuine people who have their best interest at heart. “For most patients, the decision to have plastic surgery is a significant one that they research thoroughly before deciding if the procedure and its risks are worthwhile. While the internet has empowered the patient-consumer with information, this information can be overwhelming and misleading. Unfortunately, there are no government bodies policing or regulating cosmetic clinics who fake their own reviews on independent websites.”
Plastic Surgery Hub was created by patients for patients. It was borne from a desire to have an independent website that was purely for the purpose of informing patients with honest, reliable information, not only sourced and backed up by surgeons but by medical industry bodies such as the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Medical Board of Australia and other respected sources. We do include reviews on our website but have a strict policy of ensuring each and every review is genuine and real. Dr Sanki says websites such as PSH are essential in today’s environment where patients can be easily misled “We feel extremely honoured and privileged when our patients thank us with cards, presents, letters and positive reviews, but we are not permitted to share them on our website. This is why we appreciate a website such as PSH as you know it’s real patients talking about their real experiences.”
Why be wary of basing your decision on reviews?
Plastic surgery can be a highly emotional process. Add to that patient expectations and a small percentage of patients who have extremely unrealistic expectations and you have a recipe for disaster. Many websites don’t monitor or check their reviews to make sure that the patients leaving them 1. Actually had the surgery; 2. Don’t have any personal vendettas against a surgeon based on their unrealistic and unfulfilled expectations. Dr Sanki agrees, “We warn patients to think critically about what they are seeing and reading. We are so grateful to our many patients who have given Southern Aesthetic five star reviews, but we also know that negative reviews can happen in any surgeon’s practice. We have seen bad reviews of many surgeons that we hold in high esteem and who have outstanding reputations in the medical community. Some reviews are simply fake and others are from patients who have had an excellent result but are dissatisfied because they had unrealistic expectations of what plastic surgery can achieve for them. A negative review can also be written by a patient who had a problem after their surgery or required revisional surgery. Complications of plastic surgery can happen to any patient and any surgeon.”
So, who do you trust? Unfortunately, this is not an easy answer. Your first port of call should be choosing a fully qualified PLASTIC surgeon (NOT Cosmetic Surgeon) who has the relevant years of training and is experienced in the particular procedure you are having. Dr Sanki suggests you should leave your first consultation feeling comfortable and well informed. “It is always reassuring when your first impression of your surgeon match the patients’ descriptions in their reviews. Your surgeon should properly examine and talk to you. They should recommend whether the procedure will give you a significant benefit, and help you understand its risks and any alternatives. Most surgeons are as disappointed as their patient if the surgery has been complicated or has not given the expected result. A trusting patient has to take their surgeon’s advice on board about whether a revisional procedure can help improve their results, or whether it could make things worse.”
If you have good communication with your surgeon from the beginning, you are likely to have good communication with them to the end. Dr Sanki says she knows it can be difficult for patients to know what to expect from their surgical experience, and what is possible for them but to look at ALL aspects of your research on the surgeon including:
- The surgeon’s qualifications, experience and specialties
- Google search for any legal issues or an overwhelming number of media reports involving more than one patient
- AHPRA check for any conditions on the surgeon’s registration
- Before and After photos
- Private Facebook Groups for patients (PSH has a couple of these, including Plastic Surgery Support Forum for Aussie Chicks)
- Real Stories section on the PSH website.
To search for fully qualified Australian Plastic Surgeons visit our directory, or check the name of the surgeon you are considering on the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons website.