Deceptive "Before and After" photos.

Returning from a holiday break this week and reviewing patients treated before the break, I noted with satisfaction how much better patients look in real life after treatment than before and indeed far more than still photographs seem to indicate. The reality is that we should always try to standardise photos to reflect outcomes that may (or may not) indicate enhanced results.
With this in mind I have re-worked some concepts by an overseas colleague whose views on deceptive cosmetic surgery photography are very laudable.
While it must be stated that the majority of doctors are not professional photographers, before and after photos should faithfully try and reproduce genuine outcomes.

Before and After ExamplePhotographs of cosmetic surgery outcomes should naturally be as consistent as possible. They should be taken from the same angle and distance. Many photos that imply wonderful results are actually taken from different distances, making the “after” photo look smaller. Nothing important should be concealed and any surgical scars should be exposed. Beware of different before and after postures and positioning. For instance a post- treatment happy, broadly smiling face on an after-photo can falsely exaggerate pleasing cheek and eye enhancements compared to a downcast and  unhappy pre- treatment photo.

Examples of Deceptive Photography

Example of deceptive photography
In this ad, the “after” photo is MUCH smaller than the “before” photo, and this is quite deceptive. Ultrasonic liposuction is being advertised. While advantages are often claimed for exciting sounding technologies there are often disadvantages and risks that may surmount the the advantages.
Example of deceptive photography
The scar from the “tummy tuck” is covered up in the “after” photo by underwear. This is commonly seen in website ads about tummy tucks.

Patients considering procedures should view before and after photos with a critical eye for deceptive outcomes as these are very common in advertising despite efforts made by our college to outlaw this sort of activity.