How to Analyze a Plastic Surgeon’s Before and After Photos

Published on

Plastic surgery in SacramentoPatients researching a plastic surgeon often look at the doctor’s before and after patient photos. It is very important to realize that no plastic surgeon is going to put “bad” photos on their website. You are seeing the doctor’s best results. Your own results may be more average. Board-certified Sacramento plastic surgeon Dr. Debra J. Johnson explains what to look for in a plastic surgeon’s before and after photos.

Similar Patients

Look for before and after patients in your age group with issues similar to yours. That might mean women with a breast size and shape similar to yours. If you want to correct droopy eyelids, look for a person whose lids have about the same amount of droop. The after photo gives you a ballpark idea of what to expect.

Consistent Lighting

Check out the lighting in the before and after pictures. As any photographer knows, lighting makes a huge difference in the outcome of the image. Darker lighting can make a “before” photo look worse than it is, and brighter lighting can make an “after” look better. Look for lighting that is consistent and poses that are similar. If a patient smiles or has makeup in the “after,” she always looks better than a somber, makeup-less before shot. Look for “honest” before and after photos.


If a patient has asymmetry in the “before” image, see how close the surgeon got to a more symmetric result. While perfect symmetry is fairly impossible, if a “before” patient with two different sized breasts looks like she has “twins” after, that is a good result. Be aware that some patients with minor asymmetries (i.e., one nipple is higher than the other) may accept persistent post-operative asymmetry, rather than having more incisions and scars to make the breasts perfectly even.

Few Visible Scars

Many plastic surgery procedures result in scarring. Patients are informed about where incisions are placed, but an experienced plastic surgeon places them in natural skin folds, or within bra and panty lines, where they can be concealed more easily.

Make Sure the Photos are Legitimate

Most plastic surgeons are not going to post before and after pictures of people who were not their patients, but it does happen. There are practitioners who use stock photos, or perhaps an employee simply downloads pictures off the internet.

Confirm the photos really are of the surgeon’s patients by performing a reverse image search. If Google finds the image elsewhere, choose another plastic surgeon.

Contact Us

If you are considering plastic surgery and would like more information on specific procedures and how they would benefit you, contact board-certified Sacramento plastic surgeon Dr. Debra J. Johnson and schedule a personal consultation.