The internet had become the go-to resource for patients when it comes to choosing a plastic surgeon. I think it is terrific that a patient can research surgeons from the comfort of his or her own home. Having said that, it is ideal to book an in-person consultation before moving forward with any kind of procedure, whether it is surgical or non-surgical. One of the best ways to decide which surgeons you want to see for a consultation is by reviewing the before and after photos on their website. But if you have spent time online then you know that photos can be manipulated. So, here are my tips for how to look at before and after photos.
Is the Surgical Result the Only Variation?
When you glance from the before picture to the after picture, is the surgical result the only variation? It should be. Often, however, there are other variables that can make it hard to truly compare the two photos. These include:
- Different background
- Clothing in the after photo that interferes with or camouflages the incision lines
- Inconsistent lighting
- Patient smiling and/or wearing makeup in the after photo, but not in the before photo
The only way that you can truly assess a surgical result is if everything in the two photos is the same.
Is There Video in the Surgeon’s Gallery
Video is rapidly becoming the new medium for surgeons to demonstrate before and after results, especially with body contouring procedures. High-quality video that is synchronized so that you can compare before and after results from any angle is a definite advantage. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the surgeon is technologically up to date which is important in a field that is constantly evolving.
How Full is the Surgeon’s Photo Gallery
The second thing that you want to notice is whether an adequate amount of time has passed between the before and after photos. It is important that all of the temporary post operative changes such as swelling have fully resolved. Otherwise, you are not really seeing the final result. The other thing to note is how many cases does the surgeon show on his or her website? If there are only 1 or 2, that may be a sign that patients are not happy enough to come back and be photographed. However, if the surgeon has an entire photo gallery with dozens of patients who are proud to show off their results, that is a good sign.
Can the Surgeon Handle a Complicated Case?
Some surgeons say that the best post-op is a good pre-op meaning that if you start with good material, it is easy to get a good result. A small perky breast looks great with an implant, but what if you have sagging breasts where the tissue has been compromised by pregnancy, weight gain/loss or menopause? This is why you want to look for photos of challenging cases. They will help you get an idea of the breadth of that surgeon’s experience.
Along the same lines, do the before and after photos reflect a wide variety of cases? If every case looks the same, the surgeon may be really good at doing that one thing. A large array of different cases reflects the depth and breadth of the surgeon’s experience. If you see 50 breast augmentation cases and only one facelift, and you are wanting a facelift, it may be smart to keep looking.
Before and After Photos Takeaway
Last, you want to assess how much information does the surgeon provide for each case? Personally, I attach a brief written description to each photo so that you know exactly what was done. This way, you know where to look, and can really assess the result.
The takeaway when it comes to before and after photos is this: a surgeon’s photo gallery is not a place for you to shop for a specific result. Instead, look at the various cases and decide whether or not you feel there has been an overall improvement. You may like some of the cases and not like others. This is normal. The important thing is to see consistency and improvement overall. That is how you pick a plastic surgeon.