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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Thank you for pointing out the business model of RS. That helps me look at reviews with a different perspective.

Before I found this I was in fact trying to find input from Dr Harley's patients five years or more post-op. There are only recent reviews and all glowing.

I for one appreciate you calling attention to this. It just helps us all open our eyes and make wiser decisions.


I wish I had read these comments before I had my surgery with Dr. Harley.

Yes, RS does take down any negative reviews of him. He's obviously a lucrative client for RS.


Actually, dr. Harley is one of the plastic surgeons who pays close to nothing to RealSelf. He garners favorable reviews bc he is an extremely talented kind and honest human being and patients get that about him and love him.?


Thank you to the above contributors for the honest and forthright commentary on “fake” reviews and the immediate positive reviews that follow. I too have noticed this and thought it was just me!!

I do not intend to offend any physicians or surgeons ever! That being said I do in fact practice law and it is my job to take notice of these issues. I believe the site and the forum are excellent sources of feedback, support within a specific surgery catagoy, and very helpful for trends & recommendations on specific questions. Ie: “would you return to same PS for a revision after an initial breast lift and augmentation.

?” I am not sure many readers nor contributors understand is the relational database used within the site. For example if you search on Tampa Florida IP address and comment in said town even with a secret user name it will get back to your surgeon and they or their office will know of your unfortunate outcome. In my opinion RealSelf could provide stricter guidelines for surgeons to respond. I too am OVER the whole “you are still healing ...

blah blah!! Big Time!! Like my right vertical lift scar is 1.5cm longer than my left causing uneven nipples and an elongated one breast!! Sure I’ll wait for my right breast to magically Re adhere to my flippin chest wall..

whatever!! Just like my client would magically wait for a case dismissal if I never filed a motion! Clearly a statue of limitations on time and with each day that I’m “healing” their liability becomes less and less!

Thanks for reading.. cheers!


I too fell into the deceptive reviews on RS and ended up BOTCHED by a so called "top"surgeon. I have traveled thru out the US only to find out there is no reversing or fix to my botched lower lid blephoplasty preformed by francis johns in pittsburgh pa


Would you be willing to talk about your experiences? My name is Bonnie Miller Rubin and I'm doing a story about social media and plastic surgery for the Wall Street Journal.

(I would PM you, but I couldn't find a way to do it on this site).

Here is my contact info:


I have 25 years experience at the Chicago Tribune before retiring and writing stories for one of America's most respected newspapers.

You can learn more about me (unlike phony docs!) on my website -- bonniemillerrubin.com

Youe story sounds like it could be a cautionary tale for others. I hope to hear from you.


The person that posted a review from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, your story sounds the same as mine even the dollar amount is the same. I wonder if this is the same doctor that deformed my face and destroyed my life. Really said he has ruined so many lives.


You may notice my post above. Just in case it is not seen, would you be willing to talk about your experiences?

My name is Bonnie Miller Rubin and I'm doing a story about social media and plastic surgery for the Wall Street Journal.

(I would PM you, but I couldn't find a way to do it on this site).

Here is my contact info:

bonnie.rubin2125@***.net I will send you my phone via email -- or if you prefer, I can call you.

I have 25 years experience at the Chicago Tribune before retiring and writing stories for one of America's most respected newspapers.

You can learn more about me (unlike phony docs!) on my website -- bonniemillerrubin.com I have heard some doctors refer to RealSelf as a "helpful bulletin board for the plastic surgery consumer" -- but not until I came across this site did I find some opposing views. I am hoping to give readers a more accurate perspective.

My deadline is next Wednesday (8/9). Thank you!



Sure the site seems really supportive and after my procedure when I had concerns I wondered WHY NO ONE ELSE HAD THE SAME CONCERNS?!?!

Due to me thinking I was the ONLY person who had such concerns after such a "magical, beautiful, exciting, (add your own fantastic adjective here)" procedure I tried to talk myself out of my REAL problems. Now that I look back and read other responses I TOTALLY SEE how all of the procedures are so ridiculously pro-surgery or pro-doctor!

I want to throw up. I consider myself to be an intelligent and savvy woman.

I guess we believe what we want to hear. What a horrible shame for all of the millions of women using this site.


Post information anywhere you can about this website because word of mouth is not going to be enough to change their ways.

I notice most people who post there state that they are "alone in this" or "no one understands" or something similar. So afraid, lonely people are going to this website to only MAKE THEIR LIVES WORSE. Horrific.

Horrific. Horrific.


I saw a Dr McCollough from Gulf Shores on Realself and he almost killed me and disfigured me. He actually didn't do the surgery.

I woke up during the surgery and his student did the surgery and she really messed up my beautiful face and neck. OMG! And there he is....5 stars and an author. He is old and doesn't do anything but pay other people to work and they are not that good at all.

I sent them hate emails for a couple years. I wrote some bad reviews so lets see if they show up.


I agree with this. they only let certain doctors post on the site.

they do not let any doctor who may have more experience doing these procedures post.

the site is only for plastic surgeons and dermatologists. What a scam


You have to careful definitely. I chose a doctor who was very active on this site and he botched me.

It's a useful website, it really is, but you have to just use in in conjuction with other research. I blame myself as well for what I'm going through, because I didn't research the doctor enough.


RealSelf is a Craigslist for surgeons. Cheap way to advertise and full of danger and misleading.

A respectful surgeon in no way will accept to advertise like Mr Joe who butchered hundreds of women. Reputable surgeons rely on mouth to mouth advertising which is preferable. I myself lol at reviews that screams "FAKE" .

Why those surgeons believe that we are so ***? Helllloooo......


I found an incredible doctor who performed my surgery, and then I took photos and submitted those. Thankfully patients write and provide pictures that keep this from being a bad site.

There are bad reviews on doctors from real patients.




I also tried to put a negative review about Dr.David Stoker from marina del Rey California , and real self would not post it! It is terrible I also paid over fifty thousand dollars to him and had terrible awful results ,and he didn't care when I contacted him. I am trying to help other people to be aware so they don't go through the same suffering and heartache I have endured because of awful scars and hives from horrible stitches he used,


Alana A


Alana, I also had a horrible experience with him and still don't like the results. He won't do anything to fix it!

What did you have done? I would love to get contact info and talk to you!!


Wow thanks for this because of his rave reviews on RS I was going to schedule a consultation for a neck lift. I thought I was being so diligent looking for a PS and simply overlooked the business model of RealSelf. That definitely skews the information just by its very nature.

So how do you find someone word of mouth, when many people don't actually divulge they've had work done...


so you had a bad experience because you didn't take advantage of the site. Thats your own fault.

That site has real people posting literal good and bad reviews. The interaction between patients and doctors are real. If one plastic surgeon messed you up that site can help u find a better one. Communication thats going on with the members seeking procedure(s), patients and doctors are real period.

What you experienced was unfortunate.


Who are you, any way? Are you a doctor or someone from RealSelf?

I think there are more dissatisfied patients, than RealSelf allow them to post That's how RS makes it millions. And the girls that sumit their positive reviews are lying, either because they are ashamed to post real pics or that's how they see it. I know many patients that had terrible outcome but mentally they refuse to believe they were victims. And the cheering up from other RS-ers contributed to that believes.

How dare are you to question her credibility?

Have ever spend 50k for surgeries? If not, than you should not open your mouth.

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