The company behind the Lifestyle Lift was penalized $300,000 for “cynical, manipulative, and illegal” activites in the state of New York. Seems they were engaging in a practice called “astroturfing”, whereby employees of the company were posing as satisfied patients on chatrooms and Plastic Surgery forums. According to the report, these were not simply overzealous employees trying to improve business. They were under direct orders from their supervisors to create false personas to encourage patients to sign up for surgery. “Put your wig and skirt on and tell them about the great experience you had”, said one corporate email.
Now this lawsuit says nothing about the actual procedure, which may or may not be a good idea for a particular patient. What it does highlight, however, is the grain of salt with which you must take any online review of a surgeon or procedure. Competition for patients can be intense, especially in these challenging economic times, and some unscrupulous providers are not above cheating a bit to bring patients in the door.
What can you do? In short, your homework.
- Check a surgeon’s credentials. A brief overview of board certification can be found here.
- Look at before and after photos of the surgeon’s actual patients.
- If you can, talk to previous patients to get their take on the surgeon, his or her staff, and the procedure.
- Use anonymous online reviews to gather information, but keep in mind that you don’t know who wrote the review.
- Beware of high-pressure sales pitches. If you’re a good candidate for a procedure now, you should be a good candidate in 2 months when you’ve had time to think things over.
If a surgeon seems offended by the requests for more information, find someone else. Those of us who are confident in what we do, and in our qualification to do it, are proud to share whatever details are necessary to make you, the patient, feel comfortable with your decision.