How to Read San Diego Patient Reviews

If you haven’t looked at patient reviews when comparing plastic surgeons, you’re in a shrinking minority. Studies show that nearly 96% of cosmetic patients consider reviews an important factor in their decision to visit a particular surgeon.

But not all review sources are created equal. We’re here to help you know what you’re really looking at. With some basic review-reading skills, you’ll be able to navigate the Yelpers and Googlers with confidence.

Testimonials, Reviews – What’s the Difference?

Look on any plastic surgeon’s website, and you’ll find a link to his or her patient testimonials. These are a collection of statements, letters, or notes that highlight a surgeon’s happiest patients. Reviews, on the other hand, include all patient feedback, not just the accolades.

Testimonials intentionally focus on the positive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, and a long list of heartfelt testimonials are a sign that a surgeon has made a real difference in many of his or her patients’ lives. Just be sure you also read a surgeon’s patient reviews.

Put Testimonials to the Test

If you see a lot of generic testimonials (“My results are great!”), it’s possible that a surgeon’s patient pool is just not particularly verbose. However, these blanket statements don’t really tell you much about that surgeon.

On the other hand, testimonials that mention specific procedures, surgery process details, and surgery team members often imply a memorable experience and speak to the amount of personalized care that patient felt she received throughout her care.

Who Wrote That Review? Recognizing Real Patient Reviews

We recommend looking for verified reviews before deciding on a surgeon. Verified reviews are only from people who actually had a consultation or surgery with the doctor. This makes sure that what you’re seeing is a fairly accurate picture of that physician’s patient feedback. There are three hallmarks of a verified review service:

  1. Only actual patients can submit reviews. Each patient is provided a secure link after their consultation, and surgery if they move on to that step. This keeps just anyone from getting online and writing.
  2. Physicians cannot dictate which patients are surveyed, or cherry-pick patients to avoid negative reviews.
  3. The reviews and physician’s profile are up to date. This provides the most accurate reflection of a surgeon’s current patient satisfaction.

RealPatientRatings® is an example of a site with verified reviews. Here are links to our plastic surgeons’ verified reviews:

So, what about other popular resources, such as Google or Yelp? Each of these sites takes measure to screen reviewers by requiring a person to enter contact information and agree to certain guidelines. But, at these sites no one is verifying if the people are patients of the doctor they are reviewing. Still, surgeons can’t pay to enhance their reviews on these sites, so these are “OK” resources to get a general feel for patient satisfaction—as long as you are aware of the potential for false reviews by non-patients.

Here’s a Tip: regardless of what review sites you visit, take a moment to find out their data-gathering methods and user policies. In our experience, the most trustworthy sites make this information readily available to you on their “About” or policy pages.

What About That Negative Review?

Even the best surgeon in the universe won’t make 100% of their patients 100% happy, 100% of the time. That’s just a fact of life. While a pattern of so-so reviews might make you think twice about a surgeon, don’t let a single 1 star rating in a large group of good reviews scare you off. Parse the language of any bad review to see if it sounds like a reasonable person with an honest concern. Read the bad and good reviews to get a sense for a practice’s strengths and weaknesses, and overall patient satisfaction rates.

In sites which allow responses, consider how the surgeon or practice responds to negative reviews. You can often learn more about the surgeon through the tone of his or her response. Is the response respectful, professional, courteous, and does it address the reviewer’s concern non-defensively?

When to Call for a Consultation

While reviews should play a role in your search, you still need to meet face to face with those surgeons who make your short list before making your final decision. If most of the reviews give you a good feeling, go ahead and make the appointment. But if you get to the consultation and something’s not quite right, trust your gut and keep searching.

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