Finding good care as a medical tourist
October 30, 2018 8:19 PM   Subscribe

A close friend of mine is interested in having a cosmetic surgery procedure performed and has been doing some research to identify reputable clinics. After some of that research, it has started to look like (nearly?) every clinic in that region engages in sketchy marketing practices that make it difficult to assess how competent their services are. How does one identify skilled and effective clinics/practitioners while minimizing the risk that their reputation is actually completely phony?

This friend is currently living in a part of the world that initially made Turkey seem like a reasonable area to focus on for reasons of travel time, price, and its reputation as a cosmetic surgery hub. When first looking into surgeons who were included in some lists as "the best" in the area for particular procedures, searches for their names brought up websites that very suspiciously seemed to have only, or mostly, 5-star reviews. They were all glowing pieces of writing, carefully detailing how good the surgeon, staff, and facilities were along with every facet of the service. It most certainly felt as though they were written by the same person, or at least by committee. If there were any negative reviews, they tended to be 1-star reviews and were buried down at the bottom of the reviews. This pattern was the case for most of the surgeons/clinics that were found in the area. Looking into this phenomenon, it seems that many review websites for this sort of thing offer subscription services wherein a doctor can, at the very least, pay to have negative reviews scrubbed from the site or perhaps deprioritized. From the writing style, my friend and I agree that they also don't read as being very authentic. So, can't trust 'em, right?

Trying a different avenue, a few clinics were contacted via WhatsApp and later by phone, which provided some very useful and helpful sounding advice for parsing out reputable doctors - things like being cautious of clinics that focused on the package bonuses like bundled hotel stays and taxi pickup rather than on the care. They also provided legitimate sounding details of the procedure and the calibre of materials that would be used therein, as well as gave advice for checking doctor credentials and experience. It was all sounding pretty good until perusing that clinic's Facebook page and turning up a long stream of what are almost certainly phony positive reviews posted under fake accounts.

The irony hasn't escaped me that it's difficult to figure out what's real and what's not when trying to determine if a cosmetic surgery clinic is safe and competent at what they do, but there it is. Any thoughts or relevant experience in navigating the questionable world of clinic reviews, and in making a tough choice like this would be welcome!
posted by elected_potato to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any sort of online community for people seeking this kind of surgery? I mean a real community, not just a review page — maybe a subreddit or a mailing list or something like that?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2018

Realself is the best known message board for plastic surgery - I don't know how much info they might have on surgeons in Turkey, but it's worth a look (and they may also find recommendations for surgeons for this particular procedure elsewhere that are more reputable/still not expensive). It's a user-driven board and as far as I can tell, it isn't prone to removal of bad reviews. Folks are usually pretty descriptive with lots of before and after photos, listing costs, their experiences w/ the surgeons, etc.
posted by jouir at 11:39 AM on October 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have you searched YouTube for the procedure and city/country? I see a lot of these cosmetic surgery stories that go into detail about the clinic the went to. Look to see of it's sponsored (hopefully you'll find some that aren't) and draw your conclusions from there.
posted by ananci at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2018

There is an interesting series on Netflix, The Ugly Face Of Beauty. It has very good advice, while being a bit scary, in an effort to dissuade people from falling for a quick fix. Definitely worth a watch so your friend will know what questions to ask, and what to be wary of.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:14 PM on October 31, 2018

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