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Dangers of online reviews

When choosing a surgeon who performs plastic surgery, relying solely on online reviews has several limitations. Understanding these limitations can help you use reviews more effectively and complement them with other research methods. The cosmetic surgical industry in Australia has unfortunately seen a large number of fake reviews (both positive and negative) being posted in Google which has made the authenticity of the google review rating questionable. It is recommended that you do not base your choice of a surgeon based on online reviews which can easily be manipulated.

1. Bias and Authenticity


Fake Reviews:

  • Positive Reviews: Surgeons or their marketing teams may post fake positive reviews to enhance their reputation.
  • Negative Reviews: Competitors might post false negative reviews to damage a surgeon’s reputation.
  • Incentivised Reviews: Patients might be incentivised with discounts or free services to leave positive reviews, which can skew the authenticity of the feedback.

Personal Bias:

  • Reviews often reflect individual biases and personal experiences, which may not be universally applicable.
  • Patients’ expectations and satisfaction levels vary greatly, affecting their perception of the surgeon’s work.

2. Limited Perspective

Sample Size:

  • A few reviews may not provide a comprehensive picture of the surgeon’s overall performance.
  • Small sample sizes can lead to overgeneralisation based on limited experiences.


  • Reviews might focus on non-medical aspects such as office decor, staff friendliness, and wait times, rather than surgical skill and outcomes.
  • They may lack detailed information about the surgical techniques used and the quality of the results.

3. Unverified Information


  • Online platforms often allow anonymous reviews, making it difficult to verify the authenticity and credibility of the reviewers.
  • Anonymous reviews lack accountability, which can lead to exaggerated or dishonest feedback.

Lack of Medical Insight:

  • Reviewers are typically patients, not medical professionals. Their reviews may lack detailed medical insights and fail to accurately assess the surgeon’s technical skills and expertise.

4. Emotional Extremes

Polarised Opinions:

  • Reviews often represent the extremes of patient experiences—either very satisfied or very dissatisfied—while moderate, balanced opinions are less commonly posted.
  • Emotional extremes can skew the overall impression of the surgeon’s abilities and practice.
  • Patients with mental health disorders (eg obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, body dysmorphic disorder) are often seen to post lengthy reviews either in support or criticism of the surgeon. Often there is little truth in the information that is reported but the surgeon can be quite powerless to respond without breaching doctor-patient confidentiality. In Australia, surgeons are not allowed to respond publicly to online reviews in forums such as a google reviews apart from encouraging patients to return for a follow-up consultation for safety purposes.

5. Temporal Relevance

Outdated Reviews:

  • Older reviews may not reflect the current state of the surgeon’s practice, skills, or staff.
  • Surgeons can improve or decline in quality over time, making it essential to consider recent reviews.

6. Focus on Non-Surgical Aspects

Peripheral Factors:

  • Reviews may emphasise factors like office ambiance, receptionist behaviour, and appointment scheduling rather than the actual surgical outcomes and the surgeon’s competence.
  • These factors, while important for overall patient experience, do not directly indicate the quality of surgical care.

7. Inadequate Comparisons

Lack of Context:

  • Patients may not have the expertise to compare the surgeon’s work to industry standards or to other surgeons.
  • Without a baseline for comparison, it’s challenging to assess the relative quality of the surgeon’s work.

Complementary Research Methods

Given these limitations, it’s crucial to use online reviews as part of a broader research strategy. Here are additional methods to ensure a well-rounded evaluation:

  1. Verify Credentials and Experience:
    • Check the surgeon’s certification, education, and training.
    • Review their professional history and any records of disciplinary actions.
  2. Consultations:
    • Schedule consultations with multiple surgeons to discuss your goals, ask questions, and gauge their expertise and communication style.
    • Evaluate how comfortable you feel with each surgeon and their approach.
  3. Referrals and Recommendations:
    • Seek referrals from trusted friends, family, or healthcare professionals who have firsthand experience with the surgeon.
    • Personal recommendations can provide valuable insights beyond online reviews.
  4. Professional Memberships:
    • Check if the surgeon is a member of reputable organisations like the Royal Australasian Academy of Surgeons rather than smaller subspecialty groups that focus on cosmetic procedures or plastic surgery.
  5. Before-and-After Portfolios:
    • Review the surgeon’s portfolio of before-and-after photos to assess their skill and aesthetic style.
    • Ensure the photos are of actual patients and not stock images.
  6. Hospital Affiliations:
    • Consider the hospitals and surgical centers where the surgeon operates, as reputable affiliations can be an indicator of quality.


While online reviews can provide helpful insights, they should not be the sole basis for choosing a surgeon. Understanding their limitations and complementing them with other research methods will help you make a more informed and confident decision.

Before and After Photos Sydney
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