Naked truth on cosmetic surgery
A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: RealSelf.com, Seattle
Who: Tom Seery, 39, president and founder
Mission: Provide information about cosmetic treatments and procedures.
Ratings game: The site solicits user reviews about products and services. While the process is familiar, the site raises the bar: A bad review of a hotel or restaurant may save you from an unsatisfying evening, but being warned about a procedure can steer users away from a decision they could regret for the rest of their lives.
Forewarned is forearmed: "There are over 1,200 different treatments," Seery said. "Customers want to know which ones work long term and which ones are just temporary fixes. They need to know what questions to ask and how to find an ethical and qualified provider. We provide a balanced discussion about all the available options."
Financials: The private, venture-funded company does not disclose financial details. Major investors are Seattle-based Second Avenue Partners and Zillow Chief Executive Rich Barton. Seery expects the advertising-supported site will break even in the next 15 months.
Secret identity: Cosmetic procedures still carry a tremendous negative stigma. As a result, people aren't always forthcoming about having a nose job or a tummy tuck. RealSelf provides a way for people to ask questions anonymously.
Face value: Several board-certified cosmetic surgeons, on the other hand, post to the site under their real names and at no charge. Seery said this elevates the quality of the information.
Rearrange the furniture: Seery said the decision to seek a cosmetic procedure is often triggered by a change of life, such as divorce or failure to get a promotion. "People who are comfortable with their appearance won't get cosmetic treatment," Seery said. "But for others, there is nothing wrong with something that allows you to feel more empowered or look people in the eye."
— Charles Bermant
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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