Now when it comes to review sites I have always been aware that a fair amount of manipulation goes into some of the reviews, however it never really bothered me to much, however when your considering something as serious as cosmetic surgery transparency and honest reviews is vital in making an informed decision.
Realself sells itself as honest platform where patients can freely ask doctors about particular treatments, and freely post their own experiences and read about the experience of others a kind of transparent platform that helps consumers make informed decisions.
My experience of realself has been the opposite. It is nothing more then a wolf in sheeps clothing; a marketing platform for surgeons and cosmetic products.
When making a decision about a cosmetic treatment and whom to go to most of us have to rely on reviews and the reviews on realself are extremely deceptive even more so then many other review sites I've visited.
Negative reviews are never shown on the first page of doctors reviews even if it is the most recent review, furthermore many negative reviews are removed or hidden by realself under the guise that they breach the realself community standards which I believe doctors pay the site to do. Some users are blocked by the site for posting negative reviews effectively silencing their voice and their opinion and not allowing other consumers to see it. On the other hand glowing reviews are never questioned, at least by realself, many post once and never again do not leave photos leading me to know many of them are written by the doctor themselves or someone they pay to write them to give the illusion of a good practice. There is no process at all to see if they are real, no way to complain and suggest reviews are manipulated, no suggesting to patients to write several months after a treatment to ensure that they are left with final results (many people are initially happy but once they heal problems appear but they post to early contributing to the problem).
There is also a part of the website that reviews the overall satisfaction rate with a particular procedure which is incredibly deceptive from the get go.
For example Rhinoplasty may have a overall rating of 'Worth it' 91% leading people to believe that a huge majority of people are satisfied with their results however if you delve into it that is not the case the ''not sure'' results are included in the worth it percentage. How deceptive is that!
So how are you supposed to make an informed decision if you can not be sure the reviews are real, reviews are hidden or taken down, and deceptive techniques are used to manipulate what you see?
Top doctors on the site can pay for the privilege of being recognized as so or become a top doctor by simply answering a bunch of questions. This again is deceptive as top doctor suggests that they are a competent surgeon which sways many people in their direction which is exactly what realself knows and what the doctors pay for. It really is reprehensible.
Furthermore realself monitors your private correspondence, I messaged a user who had surgery with a doctor I was considering.
I wanted to ask for some advice and about their experience. Almost immediately after a realself community member wrote to me on the same private message thread with the suggestion I book a consultation and address my questions to the doctor! For me the saving grace about realself is you can connect directly with other real users and start a correspondence, exchanging photos of results and numbers to help each other out, yet even that is policed. I would go so far as to say certain doctors pay to have a mention of their name flagged so realself can monitor what is said, perhaps even contribute to the writing of fake reviews.
Many people may not care about people who have fallen victim to the cosmetic industry, but this review is not for those people this review is for people who are seeking cosmetic treatment.
I want them to be aware that sites like realself are extremely deceptive and to be careful trusting it!
As for realself I believe they have a moral and legal obligation to either be transparent of what their business model is and what their site is all about or make some drastic changes. They are in a large part responsible for patients making decisions which can effect them in a negative way for the rest of their lifves, thanks to realself I am now left with eyelid problems and in the need for revision so I know that this is the case.
Please be careful out there and don't fall for the deception of realself
Product or Service Mentioned: Realself Website.
Reason of review: Deceptive and dangerous.
Monetary Loss: $5000.
Preferred solution: Either be honest about what the site is.
Realself Pros: Talk to real paitents directly, Some of the doctors advice is informative and helpful.
Realself Cons: Doctors can pay for speical privilages, Incredibly deceptive, Fale reviews, Takes down reviews, Blocked or policed if you post something negetive.