It wasn’t so very many years ago that having before and after pictures on a doctor’s website was a controversial issue. The majority of doctors did not have a website, and those who did and posted before and after pictures only posted a few photos, and these doctors were often criticized for being unprofessional. Now virtually every plastic surgeon has a website and most are jammed with before and after pictures. In fact when website visitors are asked what it is that they want most from a visit to a plastic surgeon’s website, before and after photos of patients is the #1 priority!
A question to consider, though, is how much stock should you place in these pictures? Patients often assume that if they can find a patient who looks like they do in a “before” picture and the “after” picture looks great, this is the doctor for them! Is that a valid assumption? Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:
• The pictures may not be those of one of the doctor’s patients. You would be surprised at how often this is the case. Also the “after” photos may have been “doctored” with Photoshop so as to “enhance” the results.
• Just because the doctor did the surgery once, he may not be able to do it again. First of all, several procedures may have been required to get to the final result shown in the “after” picture. Also, just because you think your case is just like the one shown in the “before” picture on the website, there may be a number of differences between you and the picture that lurk beneath the skin surface and that make your two cases totally dissimilar!
• “After” photos are frequently taken with various “enhancers” to make them look better than the “before” photos. Some of these “enhancers” may be innocent enough, like a patient wearing more makeup or more attractive clothing in the “after” photo because they feel better about themselves. At other times it may be an intentional change in the lighting that makes wrinkles less visible after surgery. The patient may even be instructed to pose with their head in a particular position that “improves” the surgical result. The possibilities are endless!
What then should you be looking for in addition to before and after pictures? First of all, check the doctor out with reliable sources such as your primary care physician, your friends, and your aesthetician/hair stylist/manicurist. Does the doctor have a good reputation in the community? Online rating sites have their shortcomings, but get an idea of what they are saying about the doctor. Pay a visit to the doctor’s office and check out the thoroughness of the consultation, the rapport you have with the doctor, their experience, their follow-up care policies, their board certification status, and their hospital privileges. Look for any disciplinary actions on the state medical board’s website. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has a useful website entitled, “Steps to Finding the Right Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon” at:
You may find this site helpful as you look for an experienced plastic surgeon.
In short, let the buyer beware. Do your homework! Before and after pictures may seem like an easy shortcut to finding the right plastic surgeon, but they are only part of the “picture.”
I would welcome you to visit my office for a consultation should you have further questions.