Thursday , 24 July 2014
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Plastic surgery: Buyer beware

Dear Dr. Wolf: I’m one of those people that likes to read evaluations online before I do anything. What do you think about reviewing evaluations about surgeons before having plastic surgery? What would you advise me to look for when looking at these evaluations?

Buyer beware, and be very aware! There are many plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons who, on the surface – such as on their websites – appear to be extraordinarily well-educated, experienced and extremely popular. In fact, when you read their evaluations, it’s almost as if they could walk on water.

Many surgeons often will talk about their years of experience, even though they’ve only been practicing for one or two years. In addition, their evaluations and reviews may appear flawless. If I have learned anything during my 30 years of practice, it is this: Even though you try hard and you have great credentials and great training; you cannot make everyone happy.

So, if you’re looking at evaluations and they all sound similar – they all expound wonderful things about the surgeon and they all are five-star ratings – be suspicious… be highly suspicious. There is no surgeon out there who can make every person happy every day of the week, with no complications. It’s the way physicians handle their mistakes or the less-than-satisfied patients and how they try to make situations better and alleviate anxiety in their patients that makes a physician a great one.

If you are considering a physician and all of the reviews are nice and neat and there are pages and pages of similar reviews, that physician may have hired a company to improve and “clean up” his or her Internet presence. Yes, there are companies that do that. They generally will place many pages of similar good reviews in order to hide any bad reviews. This is not to say that there are not patients who have extremely high expectations and/or unrealistic expectations that simply cannot ever be met.

My advice to you is this: Approach online reviews as a piece of the puzzle – one piece of your research. Never go to a doctor exclusively because of his or her online reviews. Go to the doctor’s office with the knowledge of what you have read online. When you are there, listen very intensely as you wait in the waiting room. Very often, you can derive a lot of information from the patients’ conversations while they wait for their evaluation or follow- up visit after having surgery.

Many of the accolades and prizes that are advertised by physicians on the Internet are just that – prizes that they bought on the Internet. Meet and interview your doctor, see photos of his or her work and ask about the steps that will be taken should a problem arise after your surgery. Going through all of these steps will help you determine if the fit is right for you. Here’s to goodwill web surfing!

Dr. Wolf’s offices are located at 8940 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 903E and at 221 Aragon Ave in Coral Gables. He may be reached at 305-595-2969 or at www.miamiplasticsurgery.com.