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Plastic Surgery

What to Look for in Plastic Surgery before & after Photos

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One of the first steps to check off your plastic surgery to-do list is to choose your plastic surgeon. After looking for board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the next thing to check for is before and after photos of the procedure(s) you’re considering. These will help to give you an indication of the kinds of results that you might be able to expect yourself if you go with that particular plastic surgeon.

But not all before and after pictures are created equal. When looking at tummy tuck, breast augmentation or other cosmetic procedure photos, here’s what to look for to make sure you’re getting an accurate depiction of your plastic surgeon’s work.

Look at Photos of People Who Look Like You

First, try to find photos of people who have a similar body shape and build as you do. Most plastic surgeons will post several before and after cases on their websites, so click through until you find some that look similar to you. That way, you’ll be able to get a good idea of how your plastic surgeon could help to improve your contours in a similar way.

Before and after photos can also serve as a great reference point when describing your goals to your plastic surgeon during your consultation. So you’ll want to make sure that you’re using photos of people who look like you so your goals and expectations are realistic and accurate.

Look for Signs of Surgical Skill and an Artistic Eye

Next, take a closer look at the photos that you’ve pinpointed as similar to your needs and goals. Do the results look seamless and natural? Are they symmetrical? Have incisions been placed in such a way that they can be easily concealed?

When looking at tummy tuck before and after pictures, for example, make note of the placement of the incision, how well the scar seems to have healed, the placement and final appearance of the belly button and the overall shape and contours of the “after” photo compared to the “before.” You should notice an improvement in body contours and shape, yet the results should look smooth and natural.

Keep in mind that some before and after photos may have been taken before that person’s final results have developed, so if you notice swelling, redness or bright scarring, ask the plastic surgeon when the photos were taken. While these symptoms are to be expected several weeks after plastic surgery, they shouldn’t be visible two years later.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Red Flags

Before and after photos should never be edited. Don’t be fooled by fake or photoshopped pictures.

Excellent surgical skill and an eye for details aren’t the only things to check for in plastic surgery photos. Be on the lookout for red flags such as:

  • Outdated pictures. If the plastic surgeon is using before and after photos from the 80s, you might want to ask for newer examples, or skip onto the next practice.
  • Photos that appear to be retouched or photoshopped. Obviously, you want to see what the person in the photos really looks like before and after plastic surgery. If you notice signs of computer editing, or enhanced lighting or posing, you might not be seeing real results.
  • The photos all look the same. Everyone’s bodies and needs are unique, so before and after photos should reflect the customization necessary to achieve individualized results. If you notice that all the pictures look the same, you might want to explore other options to ensure you get results that are custom-tailored to your needs.


What to Look for in Plastic Surgery before & after Photos
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What to Look for in Plastic Surgery before & after Photos
Not sure what to look for in plastic surgery photos? Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lee B. Daniel of Eugene, Oregon shares some important tips.
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September 4, 2018
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