Tips for Viewing Cosmetic Surgery Before & After Pictures

If you’re like most of our patients, one of the first things you did when you decided to look into cosmetic surgery was look at patient photos. Perusing before and after pictures can be an inspiring and educational, helping you see what’s possible with different procedures.

Another reason to look at before and after photos: they’ll tell you a lot about a surgeon’s skill, experience and artistry. To get the most out of gallery-viewing, you need to view with critical eye. The following strategies will help you learn what to look for, and what the gallery may indicate about the results you might expect from each cosmetic surgeon you’re considering.

Begin with”before” images that look similar to you.

The breast, body or facial shape and size you have now will largely determine what’s possible after cosmetic surgery. Look for patients who have a similar body type to you, who also show similar concerns (e.g., breast sagging or asymmetry, a large bump on the nose, loose abdominal skin, etc.).

From this set patients, assess the results that you see with each cosmetic surgeon you are considering. Note the “after” images that appeal to you most, and why. Also, note results you don’t like so much—this can help steer you towards cosmetic surgeons who align with your personal aesthetic tastes.

Four different rhinoplasty patients with four very different goals with surgery—each are happy with their results.

nose job las vegas before and after nose job las vegas before and after
male nose job las vegas before and after male nose job las vegas before and after

Look for consistency in results, but not “cookie cutter” results

The most highly skilled cosmetic surgeons will adjust their technique and the surgical outcome to complement each patient’s unique anatomy and match their personal preferences. A sign of such skill is a gallery where results look different, but almost all of them look beautiful and natural with that patient’s features.

On the other hand, if a surgeon you are considering has some beautiful results—but all the patients look the same in the “after” photos, it suggests that this particular surgeon is very good at achieving one certain look. Unless that look matches what you want, it may be best to consider a different surgeon.

Symmetry should be maintained or improved by cosmetic surgery

Most people have some natural variations in symmetry. Sometimes this is slight, other times it is severe. While a cosmetic surgeon may not be able to achieve perfect symmetry with a procedure, a skilled surgeon will work to improve symmetry between features and balance among features.

Scars should be placed strategically

When you are looking at each surgeon’s galleries, note what the patients’ scars look like, particularly their size and location. While some variation is expected (i.e., a patient who had significant tissue removed during a tummy tuck will have a longer scar than a patient undergoing a mini tummy tuck), most patients scars should be difficult to detect. An experienced cosmetic surgeon will place incisions in the natural folds of the skin or where they can be easily concealed by clothing whenever possible.

Learn to recognize new vs. final results

Some cosmetic surgeons take “after” photos sooner than others—sometimes as soon as a month or two after surgery. Unfortunately, these early after pictures can give the impression of subpar results, even though in reality that patient’s results are still taking shape. Some signs of too-fresh results include:

  • Conspicuous scars that are still bright pink or red
  • Breasts sit unnaturally high on the chest after breast augmentation or breast lift with implants
  • Visible swelling, skin discoloration, or asymmetry

If you like much of that surgeon’s work, but notice that many before and after photos look like they may be “too fresh,” ask the surgeon when the patients’ photos were taken. In general, “after” photos taken 6 months or more after surgery will give you the best indication of how a patient’s final results will look.

Look at before and after photos both online and at each cosmetic surgery consultation

Most cosmetic surgeons keep digital or print photo albums of their patients results in their office that contain many more photos than what they place on their website. Not only will looking at additional patient photos in their office give you an even better idea of how you might look if you chose that surgeon to perform your procedure, but the quantity of photos will give you an idea of how many times and how often a cosmetic surgeon performs your procedure of interest—which can indicate his or her level of experience with that procedure.

Now that you know how to really look at patient photos, why not look at Dr. Pancholi’s before and after gallery and apply your new skills? You can even save your favorite results to you own cosmetic surgery “wishlist” and refer to them at future consultations.