In my personal experience and opinion: "RealSelf.com" is "Real Dangerous" and "Real Deceptive".

Upton Sinclair said, "It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Plastic surgeons depend upon plastic surgery to sustain their lavish lifestyles. I have read that the average salary of a plastic surgeon is about $250,000 a year. According to the Puget Sound business journal, RealSelf.com made 2.4 million dollars in revenue in 2011. Plastic surgeons are salespeople. RealSelf is an online advertisement for plastic surgery and plastic surgeons. Knowing / admitting that liposuction poses unreasonable risk for people would be a very inconvenient truth for them all.

I attempted to place a negative review for a plastic surgeon who I paid $$9000.00. Realself.com would not print my review . It seems that they just want to print positive reviews. I am not sure if Doctors pay the site or not.

My Doctor used REAL SELF reviews to make him look GREAT & Trust Me-- he is from Cherry Hill New Jersey-- email me & I will inform you This Site should be SUED for Mis Informing People..This is all the Consumer has!! RealSelf.com IS A JOKE..I bet when somebody is actually harmed BAD LIKE ME they will get sued!!

RealSelf makes money with a subscription ad product for the doctors, not unlike the Zillow model for realtors. If you hold a four or five-star rating and are in good standing with the community, you can buy a presence in search results.

Started in 2006 by former Expedia exec Tom Seery, RealSelf has flown under the radar in tech circles. But the site boasts 3 million unique visitors a month and is doubling its audience year-over-year. Having raised just under $2 million in angel funding from early Microsofter and man-about-computing Mike Slade, Expedia and Zillow co-founder Rich Barton, and Orbitz CEO Barney Harford, RealSelf has been profitable for over a year.

The idea is fairly simple — so simple that it’s a bit of a surprise no one else has done it. It follows one of a handful of classic startup business models that Seery learned at Expedia: Find a market that thrives on its lack of transparency and make it transparent.

RealSelf boosts a "private messaging" feature, but the messages are not private, they are monitored.

It’s also not possible to tell if some of the glowing reviews of "the perfect surgery", and "the perfect result" are reviews paid for by the doctors. The RealSelf.com dynamic of having private sector women (and men) encourage each other to get risky plastic surgery before their own results are experienced is a dangerous group mentality. In my experience, RealSelf generally refers to this as being "supportive".

One of the most active, informative discussions on the RealSelf liposuction forum was "closed to future comments" because it was "not in the spirit of RealSelf." The elephant in the room is that the "spirit of RealSelf" means support FOR plastic surgery -- not support for the truth ABOUT patients results and scientific studies.

This site obviously allows Doctors to post phoney reviews. A Doctor on RealSelf posted 71 reviews in a matter of a few days. Most Doctors usually only get a handful of online reviews. You could tell these "glowing" reviews were all posted by the same person. Nothing about the actual surgery and healing, but mostly how "wonderful" he and his staff were.My dear friend and I went to the Dr in question, for a consult,, and she had a facelift. It is a year later, and she looks worse than before the lift, and she STILL has not healed! One year later and her incisions are still breaking open. No feeling in her face, and her eyes were cut too short and now they water constantly. Yet, this Dr posts these "glowing" reviews in a short span of time.We all know no Dr gets that many reviews in such a short time span. And, they all sound alike, with no reference to who the patient is. They are obviously phoney reviews, most likely posted by his staff, and basically are all, similar.My friend complained to RealSelf about this, and suddenly all of this Drs reviews disappeared, except for maybe 5.

I would imagine they have been inundated with complaints.It is a very sad situation when a site such as this, lets Drs post anything they want, causing many unsuspecting patients to go to an incompetent plastic surgeon, thanks to phoney reviews.When my friend tried to post her horrible experience with this PS, they told her she could not post it because it was uncomplimentary to the Dr!? Hello? I thought this was a place for real and honest reviews. Apparently not!

Real Self is that it is used as a marketing tool for doctors. So while doctors provide Real Self with the appearance of credibility (which it really has none because there are no physical examinations and all question/answer posts are purely conjecture); Real Self gives doctors the ability to promote themselves through the sheer number of questions they answer. In other words, the more questions a doctor answers, the higher up on the scale they are according to Real Self. This is not the 'star' rating but a Real Self rating (e.g. "TOP" means the doctor has answered a lot of questions; it does not mean that doctor is a top-rated doctor in ability or any other way).

I think this is quite confusing; in fact misleading. Real Self also monitors all interactions on their site, including so-called private messages. That means that they tell you in their terms of use that all content is theirs and that you cannot expect any privacy. IF you post an email to another RealSelf member, you have to realize it is subject to them viewing it.

Real Self has a rule against posting medical advice or links. Or soliciting. Many people on RS post advice and links. However it seems that if you post advice against procedures or links to sites that are also against procedures, one will get a 'warning'. But if one posts links or advice promoting procedures, this will be ignored. It is unclear as to whether it is "okay" with them if one reaches out to another user and says: check out this website! Or would you like to email me, here is my email. Or I think you should NOT get that procedure. And so on.

In the end, one has to remember that 1) RealSelf is a business venture that relies on the cosmetic industry for profit. 2) Doctors rely on RealSelf to promote their businesses. 3) Member reviews are not updated regularly and provide for poor scientific evidence and do not really present real long term results of a procedure. 4) The information on RealSelf is poorly organized and so real information (especially long term results) is not easily available. Most people drop off the site as time goes on and so don't post these results which are more important than immediate results, especially on procedures such a liposuction. 5) users/members often give advice that is not medically appropriate and only based on their own experience which by nature cannot apply to others. 6) Doctor answers (in the Q&A section) have to be suspect since they rely on the site for business and they cannot examine nor take history from the person asking the question. 7) If someone posts a negative review of a procedure, that person is usually told by other members as well as "community managers" (employed by RealSelf) that "things will get better" "just be patient, you'll see" etc. Real problems are rarely addressed. 8) If a member asks a physician about a negative outcome that person is often told it is their own fault (especially in procedures such as liposuction) or bad luck, which ignores scientific evidence. Rarely is the doctor who performed the procedure called out.

Reason of review: Poor customer service.

Monetary Loss: $5000.

Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Sorry for the typos. I was rushing to write the comment on my phone.


NightOwl it’s not really that simple. RealSelf is the only website that actually allows people to discuss certain reviews, message each other etc.

Therefore people tend to defer to this site most in their decision making which would be fine if the site wasn’t removing and editing info . I agree that sometimes the best decision is to do no work at all .


I read Real self very frequently. As an esthtician I like to stay on top of current procedures and the outcomes.

I see plenty of negetive reviews...infact sometimes more negetive than positive depending on the procedure. I find it helpful in determing the more unsafe, and risky procedures...which to stay away from as well as those that get alot of positive feedback.


Please don't give up & make your experience known worldwide. You deserve to be heard!!!! KARMA is REAL for all, surgeons are not excluded!!!!


Justice for a. RealSelf victims


Someone here said "RealSelf is Craigslist for Doctors" - I could not have said it better myself! I was also a victim of the RealSelf/ Dr.

David Harley bogus review marketing ploy. I had the surgery and ended up with post surgical complications and zero facelift results. My jowls starting returning less than a month after surgery and 5 months later my face actually looked worse than before. I won't go into the other complications but suffice to say I'm scheduled for another surgery with a more legit doctor after spending the last 5 months in pain, on and off antibiotics and more stressed than I have ever been.

6 months post surgery I've already spent thousands in facial filler to my lower face to try to prop up the jaw from the failed surgery. Its going to cost me more to fix my face from the surgery than what I paid for the surgery.

RealSelf and its paid advertisers like Dr. Harley are engaged in predatory marketing. If you are someone like me who tries to post real feedback that isn't favorable you are blocked.

Almost all positive reviews are from people 1 week to 1.5 months post surgery when the real results of surgery are not apparent. So that means that the public and all prospective clients are seeing a very manipulated version of "real" reviews. I've filed a complaint with the state Attorney General and plan to file a complaint with the FTC. Any media or journalist who is working on a story against RealSelf.com and/or Dr.

David Harley for deceptive marketing and fraud, please contact me and I will be happy to share my story. plasticsurgeryinquiry@***.com


Olivia- why don’t you just give it up. You can’t blame a good doctor bc you over did your face with fillers and now you’re trying to get your money back. Get a life!!


Anonymous you have already responded to my post under a different name trying to threaten me into silence. Your bullying tactics on RealSelf with anyone who has tried to share their negative experiences with this doctor are deplorable.

I’m not sure if you are employed by the doctor or paid to write favorable reviews. Either way you need to discontinue your harasssment of people simply sharing their surgical experiences.


How does this person know your name? Is this a privacy violation?

We need to start seeing some real world consequences for the doctors & marketers in this business. Like jail time.


hey speakupnow i am cs whos been telling earlybird and this anonymous (annoying should be the correct user name) the facts on how you can speak your mind and not get sued. i know this from my own court date .

but i too was a trusting person who picked my surgeon bc of no bad reviews only to find them on other sites after the fact i was botched. healthgrades also deleted my review , i went to my dr and wanted lasering but was told he would take alittle bit of tissue and skin but ended up taking alot of tissue and too much skin, and changed my looks completley.

so i went on realself only to be taken off. class action lawsuit would suit me fine if anyone starts one, sign me up


My name is Lisa I have been butchered by a doctor from RealSelf I want to start a class action suit


Hi Olivia, this is Julie. This is where I found your email address. I'm so sorry, I tried to email you, but it looks like this email isn't working anymore :(


Reading your response saved me. someone need to shut this site down .

People lives are being destroyed and taken behind false advertising. I just join real self two days ago and I'm deleting my account now.

I hope all goes well for you and I'm wishing you the best. Thank you


Very, very true! Dr.

Mike Sullivan (Columbus Ohio) is known to also be a very very bad PLastic Surgeon and isn't even ABMS certified.

I know lots of people who posted honest negative reviews, only to have realself.com quickly delete them and then immediately post a fake positive review if the spdoctor is a payi g member! Unethical in every way imaginable!


agree francis johns is considered "top dr" if PA by a company in seattle WA ???? how did this happen, but because he had this status and no bad reviews i went to him bc of a small flaw that i only wanted a small bit of skin removed from my lower eyelid (left one) he said he would take just alittle when indeed he removed everything including the muscle that holds the bottom eyelid in place.

i had to get medically necessary surgery to keep my eyes from flopping open when i slept at night and bc it started out as a cosmetic procedure, francis johns overly aggressive surgery cost me $30,000 to repair the damage, i dont even look like a member of my family let alone myself.

very damaging , but when i tried posting it on realself i was removed. now i am on a lifetime mission to warn the next potential person of the devastating outcome one can receive if not really careful in making decisions based off hearsay of one company promoting another company (realself promoting a doctor)


Exactly, it's a bunch of hog wash. Half of the posts are phony.


Absolutely!! ALOT of the reviews are fake .

Watch closely as when one negative review is posted , 5 positive pop up shortly right after to throw it off the front page . Then eventually your negative review becomes erased , but the positive fake ones that followed shortly after remain. So, now it just looks like they have a bunch of positives . Look at dates when writtenso close to each other if not on the same day!

No surgeon gets 3 positives written on the same day ! It's impossible !


I have read a few different post on Real self of surgery's gone wrong, I agree if your not comfortable with doing surgery then DON"T. I also have seen picture's and have read lots of post from day before surgery all the way to 6 months after surgery...


Any real doctor would not be spending exorbitant amounts of time fishing for clients and commenting on realself. A doctor who does this is either needy or greedy.

I would not trust the reviews on this site nor any others.

If you'd like to find a reputable plastic surgeon it's my opinion that a good place to start your quest is a referral for a reputable surgeon would be with your primary care physician or internist. Your primary has many patients who have undergone cosmetic procedures due to disfiguring conditions or the result of medical procedures like mastectomy tumor removals from the face, etc. They have seen the good and the bad and will likely tell you doctors that they believe in while refraining from mentioning questionable ones.

You can also seek advice on the process they recommend taking to make informed decisions.

My last piece of advice is when any doubt or fear is present delay the procedure or do not have it all.

Wait until you are 100% comfortable in your head and heart. Time is just time and nobody should rush to have a surgery unless they are in a true life or death situation.


I agree with this 100%! I think we should begin a post for those of us who would like to research and share an avenue on finding reputable and good surgeons!

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