Happy and Unhappy Patients: A Quantitative Analysis of Online Plastic Surgeon Reviews for Breast Augmentation

Robert G. Dorfman, Chad Purnell, Cecil Qiu, Marco Fredrick Ellis, C. Bob Basu, John Yah Sung Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Online reviews have become modern versions of the word-of-mouth recommendation, and prospective patients are increasingly consulting them before making decisions about their surgical care. The authors' objectives were to (1) identify trends in the use of online reviews, and (2) important reasons for patient satisfaction and dissatisfaction with aesthetic surgery. The authors selected breast augmentation as the primary procedure of interest. Methods: Reviews of the top 10 to 20 most reviewed plastic surgeons in each of six large metropolitan areas were obtained from Google, Yelp, and RealSelf. Reviews were assessed for predefined dimensions of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Results: A total of 1077 breast augmentation reviews were obtained. Ratings were distributed bimodally, with peaks at five stars and one star. The majority of reviews were positive (87.5 percent). Relative popularity of Google versus Yelp varied across geographic regions, and average rating varied by platform. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of online reviews for breast augmentation grew at an average rate of 42.6 percent per year. Aesthetic outcome was the most commonly cited dimension (69.8 percent of reviews), whereas cost was mentioned in only 7.8 percent of reviews. A substantial minority of negative Yelp (37 percent) and Google (9.4 percent) reviews were written by patients who did not actually undergo surgery. Free-text analysis of heterogeneous reviews (containing positive and negative attributes) classified dimensions as critical, redeemable, or protective. Conclusion: As the influence of online review platforms continues to grow, understanding drivers of positive and negative reviews may help surgeons improve patient satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663e-673e
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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