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Online Reviews After 'Tummy Tuck' – Cosmetic Results Aren't the Only Factor Affecting Positive Ratings

For patients undergoing "tummy tuck" surgery (abdominoplasty), satisfaction with the aesthetic outcome is the main factor affecting whether they write a positive or negative online review for their plastic surgeon, reports the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

But interactions with office staff and postoperative follow-up by the surgeon also influence plastic surgery ratings on online review sites, according to the study by ASPS Member Surgeon John Y.S. Kim, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and colleagues.

Just Three Percent Rate of Negative Online Ratings after Abdominoplasty

The researchers analyzed ratings of plastic surgeons on three popular review sites: Google, Yelp, and RealSelf, which is dedicated to plastic/cosmetic surgery ratings. The study included nearly 800 reviews written by patients who underwent abdominoplasty in six metropolitan areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Miami.

Dr. Kim and colleagues performed a quantitative analysis to identify statistically significant themes affecting patient satisfaction after abdominoplasty. Across the three sites, 86 percent of reviews were positive (4 or 5 stars) and 14 percent were negative (1 or 2 stars).

  • Good aesthetic outcomes were the "dominant driver" of positive reviews. "No patient who reported being happy with their aesthetic results left a negative review, indicating that a good aesthetic outcome virtually guarantees a positive review," the researchers write.
  • Interactions with office staff were the next most important factor – all reviews mentioning negative staff interactions were negative reviews.
  • Postoperative care and follow-up by the plastic surgeon was also associated with patient satisfaction. In some cases, patients who were satisfied with follow-up care left good reviews despite cosmetic problems or complications.

Other factors – including surgical complications and the costs of surgery – were classified as "nondominant" factors. "Performance on these factors, while influential to satisfaction, is overshadowed by other factors," Dr. Kim and coauthors write. "Because online reviews are few and polarizing," the researchers note, "they are unlikely to be representative samples of a surgeon's total practice."

In a previous qualitative analysis of online ratings after breast augmentation, Dr. Kim and colleagues found that reviews were affected not only by aesthetic outcomes, but also by interactions with the plastic surgeon and staff. The new study is the first quantitative analysis of factors affecting patient satisfaction after cosmetic surgery.

While identifying cosmetic outcomes as the predominant factor, the study shows that interactions with office staff also contribute to positive reviews of plastic surgeons. "The fact that interactions with staff and postoperative care were almost as important as the actual aesthetic outcome speaks to the importance of the 'service' aspect of plastic surgery," Dr. Kim comments. "In essence, patients have expectations for quality of care that go beyond the operating room."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Wolters Kluwer.

Click here to read "A Quantitative Analysis of Online Plastic Surgeon Reviews for Abdominoplasty"

Article: "A Quantitative Analysis of Online Plastic Surgeon Reviews for Abdominoplasty" (doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000005320)

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For more than 70 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair, and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 8,000 member surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 93 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.

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