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    Cosmetic surgeons must manage negative online reviews

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    Englewood, Colo., plastic surgeon Gregory A. Buford, M.D., remembers the disgruntled patient who gave him a less-than-favorable online review years ago. The patient complained that Dr. Buford was too expensive and that she had to wait 15 minutes for her appointment. She gave him a low star rating, he says.

    "So, it wasn't about being unhappy with results or anything having to do with her care," Dr. Buford says.

    He says he remembers being frustrated, because he wasn't able to respond. And that's Dr. Buford's beef with user-generated comments and reviews: They're not always constructive, and those being attacked don't always have the opportunity to address or change the comments.

    Nevertheless, Dr. Buford says he is a social media advocate. He blogs on his website ( http://www.beautybybuford.com/news/bufords-blog/) and spends time addressing patients' questions and concerns on general cosmetic surgery websites, such as http://RealSelf.com/.

    "I view the feedback and spend a lot of time answering questions and looking at blogs," he says. "It's important to know what people are saying about you or about your specialty."

    COMES WITH THE TERRITORY Bad comments come with the social media territory, says Alan J. Bauman, M.D., a hair-restoration physician in Boca Raton, Fla. Dr. Bauman, who lectures to colleagues on social media, knows about the ins and outs of Tweeting, Facebooking and blogging on http://www.BaumanBlog.com/.

    "The Web is the ultimate communication tool; so, if you're not using the Web to communicate to physician colleagues, potential patients, etc., then you're kind of on a desert island," Dr. Bauman says.

    There's no escaping the potential for negativity, according to Dr. Bauman, and there's no reason to shun social media because of it. He says would-be patients aren't necessarily turned away by occasional uninviting remarks.

    "I think as more and more people get used to the reviews — whether it be to a steak house or for your local massage therapist, spa or surgeon — the savvy consumer realizes that there is going to be pros and cons," he says.

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    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is a writer in Boca Raton, Fla., who heads up her company, Words Come Alive.

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