Patients Researching Cosmetic Surgery: Examine the Doctor's Website
Cosmetic Surgery: Promises and Pitfalls™
When looking for a plastic surgery practice, we go to the Internet for help.
It’s clear that the Internet has become the new yellow pages.
It is the modern way to find a plastic surgeon with the added benefit of getting information about the practice and the surgeon.
In the “old days” of using yellow pages, to get noticed a practice would have to have a full page advertisement with full-color which implied the best choice for the consumer. On the Internet, well-designed and eye-catching websites provide the same type of message: the best choice. Consumers should be aware that the size or quality of any advertisement is simply a function of money invested and may or may not reflect reality.
- Self-promoting statements (examples: the best, providing an exclusive technique, etc.) should be viewed with skepticism since such claims are impossible to verify.
- Best MD lists from different lay magazine publications may contain well qualified surgeons but their ranking system is unscientific. They can serve as great marketing for the publication and surgeons. This type of listing, though effective marketing and flattering to the individual surgeon, is not an assurance of quality.
- Before and after photos may seem like the ultimate criteria for selecting a surgeon. However, photos are helpful if one has the assurance that the pictures shown are actually a patient of that surgeon, that the results are typical (average), not the best one or two of a career, and that photographic techniques are consistent, including lighting, poses, makeup, etc. We are all familiar with the wonderful improvement in appearance that glamorized shots provide.
- Testimonials are always impressive, but always impossible to verify who authored them, unless patient identifies her/himself.
- Recently, official-sounding “health care boards” and “professional societies” have be created to be inclusive of any physician who has the inclination and money to join. Unfortunately, this has been very effective in creating confusion in consumers. The consumer should beware of any surgeon who is not credentialed by an appropriate American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
- There is no professional regulation of the content posted on individual practice websites. Ethical guidelines by plastic surgical societies have been liberalized in recent years due to media pressures and the threat of litigation.
- We have made a concerted effort to provide factual information on our website.
Just as our practice is scientifically based, so is the information we present on our website.
Any personal bias is reserved for information where we state it is our “opinion”.
- Many subjects covered on our site are controversial and are rarely seen on other
- The innovative procedures that we describe on our site are all published in
peer-reviewed professional publications, which are actually available on our website.
- While consumers view before and after pictures as a valuable factor in
selecting surgeon, we have made the decision to omit patient pictures from our site. We
believe that photos can be very misleading, can be manipulated by patient selection (who
is going to show a bad result?) and well-staged, glamorized shots are meaningless. Of
course we personally view and discuss before and after pictures in our consultations.
- No testimonials are listed on our website.
- We have had our website professionally designed, but have insisted that it
represents our ethical and professional standards. Our website is as unique as our practice.
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