Real self

Theory of people’s wants and wills found in idealism.

People have a real self or ‘real will’ which is what they would want if they reflected in a fully rational way on their interests. It will frequently differ from their expressed will, or what they say and believe that they want.

Some other person or institution, such as government, may therefore know what people’s ‘will’ is better than they do themselves.

Andrew Vincent and Raymond Plant, Philosophy, Politics and Citizenship (Oxford, 1984)


RealSelf was founded in 2006 by Tom Seery, a former executive at Expedia. Seery told Geekwire he noticed a gap in the market where consumers could find quality information about travel-related businesses but minimal, “one-sided marketing” about expensive medical procedures.[6][7]

RealSelf was initially self-funded by Seery. In 2008, the company raised close to $2 million in funding from angel investors, including Rich Barton.[8]

RealSelf was one of Inc. 500’s fastest growing private companies from 2012-2015, peaking at #306.[9] Traffic rose 270% from 2013 to 2019.[10]

In 2018, the company raised $40 million in Series C funding from Elephant.[11][12]

Site content is a website where viewers can review treatments and find a plastic surgeon or an aesthetics physician to perform procedures.[13] RealSelf also covers topics in dermatology, dentistry, and even LASIK. The site features reviews, real patient before & after photos, forums, editorial content, consumer questions, and answers. Treatments are rated “Worth It”, “Not Worth It”, with an option to talk about their experience.



Consumers post reviews, photos and questions in a discussion format, and also post questions to providers. RealSelf also hosts a directory of doctors organized by specialty, treatment offered, and location. Consumers can contact doctors through the site, who sometimes have special offers available.

The total number of reviews on RealSelf has doubled since 2015, according to Healthline.[14] The site has over 2 million reviews of doctors and treatments.[15]

RealSelf also has an iOS app.


Doctors publicize their services through their profile, where user- and doctor-generated content is aggregated. Doctors can pay for targeted exposure through ads.[16]

Doctors have access to free dispute resolution when they think a review violates the site guidelines. Doctors cannot pay to alter or remove consumer reviews.[17]


In addition to founding RealSelf, Seery serves as Executive Chairman.

Seery is a frequent speaker at conferences, including meetings of the Aesthetic and Anti-aging Medicine World Congress,[18] the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, IMCAS World Congress[19] and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.[20] He is also on the advisory board of Buerck Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.[21]

Board members include Andrew Hunt, founder of Warby Parker and Elephant; and Mike Slade of Second Avenue Partners, Judy Verses of Wiley & Sons, Lizette Williams of Facebook.[22]

Business model

RealSelf is a two-sided marketplace that is free for consumers. Registration is required to submit content.

Medical professionals must claim a free profile, which can be upgraded via a paid membership. Medical professional cannot achieve “Verified” status without prior payment to They may also buy advertising that appears on the site. All professionals on RealSelf must meet participation guidelines before they can be listed.[23] They can only buy ads and post content in specialties where they hold qualifications.[24]

All reviews, questions and forums undergo moderation before they are posted. RealSelf does not allow doctors to remove consumer reviews.[25]

RealSelf does not publicize their moderation algorithm.[26] Other review websites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, also do not publish their moderation algorithm, with Yelp stating to the Irish Times, “we don’t disclose precise details about the recommendation software to prevent people from gaming the system.”[27]


RealSelf is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.[28] The company has won workplace awards from Entrepreneur,[29] Glassdoor,[30] Puget Sound Business Journal,[31] Geekwire and Seattle Business Magazine.[32]

RealSelf releases a yearly “Most Worth It” list of procedures, RealSelf Hall of Fame, RealSelf 100 and RealSelf 500 awards for doctors.[33] The awards are free and are based on ratings from consumers.


RealSelf sponsors medical relief to Dehradun, India as part of their “Beyond Scars” partnership with ReSurge International.[34] The trips primarily work to provide plastic and reconstructive work to burn patients, which affect 6-7M people in India annually.[35] RealSelf employees have also volunteered at Camp Karma in India

2 thoughts on “Real self

  1. zortilo nrel says:

    Hola! I’ve been following your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great work!

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