How to Really Study Plastic Surgery Photos
It’s no secret – the “before and after” photo gallery on a plastic surgery website is one of the most popular features. It’s an important way to sort out the good surgeons from the not-so-good ones. But it’s essential to know what to really look for in a set of photos. In today’s blog, I’ll give you a few suggestions on how to do this.
These are an important clue about how the surgeon thinks, and how they choose a procedure for a particular cosmetic problem. You want to find out what the surgeon would recommend for a patient who looks like you. Ask yourself: Does this choice make sense, or not?
Step 1: Start collecting a group of patient photos who look a lot like you – in age, body type, skin tones and features. For example, if you are considering breast augmentation, find someone with a similar weight, chest width, amount and shape of breast tissue, tissue firmness and so on. Imagine your are trying to find someone who could be your “identical twin”.
Step 2: In this group of patients, identify both the results you like, and the results you don’t care for. Ask yourself “why”, in both groups – what is it, in particular, about a certain photo that appeals to you. What is it about a certain photo that is displeasing? Was it something the patient had prior to surgery? Or was it a result of surgery?
Step 3: Make yourself a collection of these photos – so that you can take them to the consultation(s) and discuss with your potential plastic surgeon. It’s often handy to load these on your smartphone or tablet.
Start by critically analyzing the photo – is it a matched pair with the “before” photo? The after photo should have patients in the same pose, with the same lighting, with similar image sizes, color of background, and patient clothing as the before photo. Anything different can be distracting or confusing to evaluate. For facial photos, there should not be an obvious change in hairstyle, facial expression, or make-up between the before and after shots.
Step 1: Judge the result on its overall beauty & attractiveness. Do you think the result is attractive? Natural? Is it something you would like for yourself? Or do you find yourself finding issues about the result? If you’re not happy with the photo, chances are you might not be happy with a similar surgical result! It’s important to pick a surgeon whose ideals of beauty are similar to your own.
Step 2: Check the scars. Are they neat & tidy? Are they hidden in natural folds and contours? If you can’t see a scar, ask yourself (and the surgeon) why that is. For example, if you’re looking at a facelift, the hair should be pulled back, so you can see the ear area (where the scars are) clearly.
Step 3: Symmetry. In almost every surgical procedure, there should be a high degree of symmetry between the right and left sides. While each person may have some asymmetry to start with, the after results should show an improvement in the degree of symmetry.
Step 4: Look for a variety of results, in a variety of patient types. Is every result a “cookie-cutter” version of the one before? How does the surgeon adjust his technique for patients with differing pre-op features?
Finally, confirm that your prospective surgeon really performed these procedures themselves. This is especially important for photos related to a particular brand of surgical device, like a laser or liposuction machine. Sometimes the manufacturer will provide marketing photos to the surgeons that buy their machine– that were performed by someone else. We don’t use models on this website. Every photo you see on our website is a real patient, with surgery performed personally by Dr. Fiala or by Dr. Rhee.
With a good system, you can get a lot more out the time spent browsing in the surgeon’s photo gallery. You’ll be well on your way to selecting your surgeon, and becoming a well-informed plastic surgery client.
To receive a personalized information pack with specific details on the procedure you’re interested in, send us a request by clicking here.