Facebook and Twitter have made social networking the status quo. Plus, the rise of mobile apps has led to lasting connections, even when there’s no wireless connection to tap into. Because of that, platforms like Instagram (a social app for sharing photos) and Tumblr (a microblogging site) have become nearly as appealing as the two leading social media giants, offering users a chance to connect with others who share similar interests and enjoy comparable lifestyles.
Now, those shared connections are even reaching into the medical world. Welcome to the age of RealSelf, a social networking site for folks who are interested in undergoing cosmetic surgery.
So, how would something like that even work? As Business Insider reports, it might be best to think of it as a mix between Yelp and Facebook.
Say you’ve just undergone a tummy tuck operation. You’d post before and after photos to your RealSelf profile page and maybe add a few words about the procedure itself (or anything of note that happened during your stay in the hospital). Then, other users would be able to comment on your post and ask you question about it. Some of the most common questions are about overall costs and which specific doctor(s) performed the operation.
That’s all fair game for RealSelf, which is why it’s grown so successful in the years since its 2006 inception.
“Social networks like Realself.com are causing customers to become more self-sufficient,” explains Dr. C Randall Harrell, M.D., from the Fountain of Youth Institute. “Currently, many people use Google to perform their own empirical research to make decisions instead of contacting the authoritative services for cosmetic surgery referrals (ex. State Departments of Health, official plastic surgery societies like ASPS and ASAPS). Google does not service empirical researchers well because Google mainly indexes commercial sites and consumer-review sites limiting a patient’s ability to perform objective research. Objective research should be based on industry standards and verified credentials. Social networks like Realself.com offer access to consumer reviews making empirical research easier. Social networks also help us communicate with the segments of customers who are highly technical, early adopting, doctor focused customers.”
One of the draws of RealSelf is the candidness the users display in their posts. Imagine a mother of three is looking to firm up her post-baby flab and wants to know if she’d be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. She could ask you, the original poster, about your height and weight to compare against her own.
Plus, users who live in proximity to one another can get the scoop on which doctors to look into and which ones to avoid altogether. Each user can evaluate his or her cosmetic doctor via a five-star rating system in categories such as bedside manner, answering questions, professionalism, wait times and more.