Before and After Photographs

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Before and After Photos

At a talk I was asked how much should a prospective patient rely on before and after photographsAwhen choosing a surgeon? One should always remember the same disclaimer for investment advisers applies here: past performance does not guarantee future results. In fact even if your anatomy was exactly the same and exactly the same procedure was done it does not mean you would look the same as any photograph. You should take the pictures with “a grain of salt.”

When you see before and after photographs there are are few things you should consider. #1 is patient selection. Were these pictures chosen to illustrate a typical result or to sell you? If a surgeon has done a hundred of the same procedure there should be some that look great. No one is going to show the unfortunate one with a poor result. #2 is time frame for the after picture. Plastic surgeons commonly wait at least six months before taking the after picture, because you want to see the results that will hopefully be long term. #3 has any other procedure been done to the patient?

Has there been other surgical or non-surgical treatment? You may see a brochure for a facelift and the patient has also had eyelid surgery and Botox for frown lines. #4 is there anything non-surgical done to change their appearance? The same brochure may have new make up, a new hairstyle, more flattering clothing and accessories in the after photograph. #5 is the patient posing the same way? Tilting up the chin helps to remove that extra skin in the anterior neck. Smiling makes all of us look better. #6 is there any difference in the photographic technique? Flash can wash out fine lines. A warmer light makes the subject look different than a cool light. #7 does it state that this was the result of a single stage? There may have been multiple stages required to achieve that result.

In summary looking at before and after photographs can be similar to the challenge in the children’s section of the comics in which the reader is asked to find the six differences between two sketches.

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