Can you trust before and after photos?

How to take before & after photos for your facelift

An article on the BBC website recently (the art of before-and-after pictures) exposes just how easy it is to ‘fake’ dramatic improvements in personal appearance using a few simple photographic techniques. The use of ‘before and after photos’ is widespread, and for understandable reasons.


However, photos are nowadays susceptible to subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) enhancement and it is rare indeed to see ‘before and afters’ taken under standard conditions. Some photos can be highly misleading and may lead to unrealistically high patient expectations, which we feel should be avoided at all costs.


Our standpoint is that the fundamental role for before and after photos is to form part of the clinical record for patients undergoing facelift surgery. They can also be useful on a personal level to document changes in appearance after a facelift (see our previous blog post here ). We do use photos of patients we have previously treated extensively at consultation, but tailored to individual circumstances e.g. age, facial appearance, degree of jowling, neck tissue laxity etc. That way, you can form a realistic impression of the likely outcome of your Advanced Mini Facelift. Obviously, you can only see these at your initial consultation with our surgeon – we do not circulate confidential patient photographs!


We are quite often sent photos by patients for an opinion as to whether they are a suitable candidate for an Advanced Mini Facelift. Sadly, these are often of very poor quality. To help get over this issue, we have recently made a video entitled ‘How to take photos before ( and after) your facelift’ which we would encourage you to watch. We ask all male potential patients to send us a set of photos for screening before we can accept them for consultation – this is related to the hairline changes with age in men.


All that having been said, it is noteworthy that the most read and commented on posts on our Forum are those on the topic of before and after photos. We have recently yielded our stance a little and have been gently encouraging some of our former patients to post their photos on our Forum and on the Real Self website. However, you need to be fully aware that the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) principle does not always apply to something as complex as a facelift!


And in any case, the real before and after effect cannot be captured on camera. It exists only in the way you feel about yourself deep inside.  

About This Author

Martin Sasada is a Consultant Anaesthetist and director of Me Cosmetic Surgery based in Bristol.

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