How Can I Research a Cosmetic Treatment to Find out if It Really Works?

Where should prospective patients look to find scientific, objective validation of a procedure? No one who stands to benefit financially from offering a treatment will admit that it doesn't work. Sadly, a site like is likely to be padded with shill reviews, and photos are very easily doctored. Doctors will only refer you to their most satisfied patients. Besides asking a reference librarian, which is probably the way to go, do you have any suggestions?

Doctor Answers 5

Chossing a surgeon and a procedure

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If a procedure has been performed by mutliple surgeons for decades it is likely valid. The question is which surgeon should you have do it in your specific case at that specific point in time. If you are referring to the addition of new technology or ways of achieving results that is hard to do even for the average Plastic Surgeon researching new procedures to perform or new machines to obtain for his/her office. The best source of unbiased opinions in this regard are peer reviewed published medical journal studies on the use of the device or procedure. These are not readily available to the general public and seem to me to be increasingly ignored by surgeons. The US is currently in a bad situation and everyone including doctors and device manufacturers are fighting for discretionary patient health care dollars i.e. health or cosmetic care not covered by health insurance. The numerous talk shows, cosmetic makeover shows etc. only make the situation worse. I am aware of some of these shows taping surgery in non-accredited or certified operating rooms and making blatantly false claims. I am in the same boat is you empathize with you but do not have a solution to the problem.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgeon referral

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You are correct above the information becoming muddled by conflict of interest, marketing, and product hype. The best answer is to go to a reputable, honest doctor to help you through the information maze. The internet is probably not a good place if you simply Google keywords. I usually suggest asking your personal physician or gynecologist (for women). Good doctors tend to know other good doctors and refer to quality doctors since they know what's happening in the field and don't want to tarnish their own reputation by referring you to someone they don't trust or respect.

Robin T.W. Yuan, M.D.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Pub Med

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You ask a very thoughtful question.  Peer reviewed studies of procedures, products and devices can be found in the medical literature.  This can be found in "pub med."  Alternatively, I would suggest finding a physiican you respect and trust.  Then you can seek the advice of that physician

Paul Carniol, MD
Summit Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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Objective, non-biased, data on cosmetic treatments

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The problem is that most cosmetic treatments do not have objective scientific double blinded studies performed and most of the evidence of not well supported.

Validating procedures

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Some validation can be obtained on line using PubMed to look up medical journal articles on the given subject, but otherwise check out the reputation of the doctor and their results.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.