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Plastic Surgery Before and After Photos Can be Misleading

before after photo manipulation

One of the best assets in our playbook, when it comes to plastic surgery, is the ability to show potential patients our book of before and after photos. These photos can give a patient a way to manage expectations as well as see the quality of work that we are presenting.

Unfortunately, while we love technology and its uses in the field of plastic surgery, it is now easier than ever for doctors or medical offices to manipulate those before and after photos to give the impression that their work is performing much better than is to be expected.

This is obviously a problem for a couple reasons. For one, it will set patient expectations to unreasonable levels which will only hurt you as a doctor when the patient is underwhelmed by the actual results. So, manipulating your before and after photos, or adding filters or camera tricks, to make them appear better will probably come back to haunt those doctors in the form of bad reviews or lack of referrals.

The other thing these manipulated photos are going to do is diminish your credibility. If your patient is smart enough to call you out on an altered after photo, then any trust you had gained with that patient is going to be immediately lost and you’re most likely going to lose a client before you even have one. And this can also cause you to lose possible referrals from this person in the future.

Therefore it’s extremely important that you ask your doctors questions, you look through their before and after photos and call out anything that you think may look suspicious, and you educate yourself on what to look for when it comes to photo manipulation.

In most cases manipulation of these before and after photos can be easily spotted if you know what you’re looking for.

What to Look for in Plastic Surgery Before and After Photos

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for when looking at plastic surgery before and after photos. These tips will help you to better identify if a photo has been manipulated or if they are trying to make the after photos look better than they would be in real life.

Lighting and Angles

One of the easiest tricks in photography is using lighting and angles, as well as lenses, to trick the viewers eye into seeing something in a way that isn’t exactly natural.

When looking at before and after photos you want to make sure that the images are as close to the same as possible. This means that the photos were taken with the same camera, from the same angle, and under the same lighting conditions.

There are many times where you’ll see a before photo that looks like it was shot with a 10-year-old cell phone camera, while the after photo was taken with professional lighting and a more professional stand-alone camera. Obviously the after picture is going to be cleaner, sharper, and brighter compared to the before photo, yet there was no computer manipulation done.

Now, not all plastic surgeons have access to the patients when trying to acquire after photos, so there may be some disparities between photos taken at the doctor’s office and ones taken by the patient at home, but in a lot of cases the after photos will be taken at the doctor’s office when the patients come in for follow-up appointments.

Lighting can also play a huge role in how photos look. With professional lighting directed at the patients face or body it can blow out any minor imperfections you may be able to see without professional lighting. It can help enhance features as well, which can make someone look totally different.

The angle in which the photo was taken will also play a role in how you perceive the before vs the after. Make sure the photos you are looking at are taken from as close to the original angle as possible. And, if you can, ask the doctor for multiple photos at different angles of the patient so you can compare.

When people think of photo manipulation a lot of people immediately jump to Photoshop, or some sort of computer program used to smooth out the skin or remove blemishes, but don’t forget that manipulation can happen outside of a computer as well.

Computer Manipulation and Filters

One of the biggest crazes these days is using filters to make yourself appear differently than in real life. Pretty much every photo app that you have on your phone has some way to smooth out skin and remove blemishes, so it’s important to know what to look for when looking at before and after photos.

Extremely smooth skin on the face and body with small little photo artifacts near the areas with more details, like the eyes and nose, are a sure sign that some sort of smoothing technique has been used.

Look for birthmarks, wrinkles, or other imperfections on the skin in the before pictures and try to match them up with the after photos. If you notice that a birthmark was very pronounced and sharp in the before picture, but doesn’t exist or is blurry in the after, then you can bet that some sort of filter or manipulation is going on.

Photo manipulation is just a part of our society these days, for better or worse, but the tactics that the media uses to make people look glamorous and flawless in magazines and online shouldn’t be used in the plastic surgeon’s office.

It’s almost like false advertising and it will eventually come back to hurt the surgeon that is manipulating their photos.

It’s important to find a reputable plastic surgeon that you can trust, and manipulating photos is a quick way to lose a person’s trust.

After looking through a surgeon’s book of before and after photos, ask if it would be possible to talk with a prior patient to get a firsthand take on what the surgeon is actually like. You can even seek out previous patients that may have left a review online and ask for their honest opinion.

Whatever you do, make sure that you look at multiple before and after photos, ask lots of questions, and try and verify as much information about the doctor as you can. Remember, most plastic surgery is permanent so you don’t want to have to undergo another procedure in order to fix an issue that a previous surgeon may have made.

If you have questions about plastic surgery, or would like to setup a consultation, please contact us today at Dr. Adams Plastic Surgery in Dallas, Texas. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our procedures and/or Dr. Adams himself.

We pride ourselves on being upfront and truthful with all of our patients.


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