Summary: Knowing how to evaluate plastic surgery before and after pictures is a vital research skill for those interested in undergoing cosmetic procedures. Not all before and after galleries are created equally. When you spend some time asking questions and examining evidence, it can help you make the most out of this particular research tool. Knowing what to look for in a plastic surgery before and after gallery can make a huge difference!

Learning How to Evaluate Plastic Surgery Before and After Photos

Almost every surgeon is going to have a set of before and after photos. But knowing how to evaluate plastic surgery before and after pictures can help you make sense of what you’re seeing and be more able to anticipate your results. After all, before and after images are designed to be a learning tool as well as an evaluative diagnostic.

In other words, if you’re looking for a surgeon to perform a specific procedure, you have probably looked through dozens (if not hundreds) of plastic surgery before and after images. It’s just part of the research process! The problem is that all of the images look so good. For a patient that doesn’t have a lot of experience with plastic surgery, this can be confusing.

That’s why we’re talking about how to evaluate plastic surgery before and after pictures. To be clear, you should always consult with your surgeon in order to get all the facts possible. This article is intended for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional.

Healing is a Process

Recovery from a plastic surgery procedure can be a process—and not necessarily a short one. That’s why the term “before and after” can be a little misleading. That’s not intentional—it’s the best term we have to describe what the photos are actually capturing. But “after” can mean very different things depending on when during the recovery process you happen to be.

That’s why some surgeons will have various “after” images. These images will show results after 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, and so on (maybe not those specific intervals of time—but the important thing is that intervals of time exist in these photos). That will showcase how healing usually progresses for plastic surgery patients.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone heals at the same rate. As such, before and after photos are no guarantee of a certain result by a specific time period.

Before and after image courtesy of South Shore Plastic Surgery

Ask Questions

There are several questions you might want to ask if you’re looking at before and after photos:

  • How recent are the photos? Many surgeons update their before and after photos in fits and starts, so don’t be shocked if photos are somewhat out of date. However, if photos are out of date, it gives you a follow up question to ask your surgeon during a consultation. Most surgeons will keep up to date photos on hard copies even if they aren’t on their websites.
  • What do typical results look like? The idea of before and after photos is pretty simple. They’re designed to give patients a look at what typical results might look like. Now, every patient’s results will be different and unique. But, in theory anyway, the results you see in before and after photos should be fairly typical. You can certainly ask your surgeon about this during your consultations. A photo gallery filled with outliers doesn’t really do anyone much good in most circumstances.
  • Are before and after photos unique? It’s not uncommon for cosmetic and plastic surgeons to use placeholder before and after photos for new procedures. These photos are usually provided by the manufacturer or a new tool, device, or treatment, to give patients an idea about what kinds of results are typical. It never hurts to ask if the photos in question are indeed captured by the surgeon and his or her staff. Most surgeons are quite open to such questions, so don’t be afraid of any pushback.

Look for Outliers

There’s an old saying when about how one should beware that which is too good to be true. If there are before and after photos that look too good to be true, that should be your cue to start asking more questions. That’s especially true when it comes to novel or non surgical techniques.

That’s not to say that non surgical techniques aren’t going to deliver exceptional results. It’s just that sometimes those results are overhyped. The most important aspect to a patient being satisfied with his or her results is to have realistic expectations.

There for Your Benefit

Ultimately, plastic surgery before and after photos are there for your benefit. When you know how to evaluate plastic surgery before and after pictures, you make those image galleries even more useful.

In other words, don’t be afraid to spend some time with this particular stage of the research process. Examining these before and after galleries in detail can help you understand what any given procedure can accomplish. And that can go a long way in ensuring your overall satisfaction.

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