When considering breast augmentation (or any type of cosmetic surgery for that matter), most patients take to the internet and scour before and after galleries to find that photo– the “perfect result” photo that best represents the desired surgical outcome. Articulating the size and shape that you want your breasts to be after surgery can be a lot more difficult than you think. Sometimes that “vision” gets a little lost in translation. 

Additionally, before and after photos help you to determine whether a surgeon is right for you. While there are lots of things that can help you make that decision, before and after photos are one of the best ways to choose a surgeon that shares your vision and definition of “beauty.” Some surgeons have more natural appearing results while others may prefer the more augmented look.  

If you are considering breast surgery, you most likely have photos that you want to share with your surgeon to ensure that he or she understands your desired result. There’s just one tiny problem with before and after photos- most patients don’t know how to properly “read” them, making the photos practically useless to set realistic expectations.

4 Things to Look for in Breast Surgery Before and After Photos

Not sure you’re looking at photos correctly? We’ve got you covered! By the time you finish this post, you will be an expert in reading before and after photos and will feel confident that your surgeon is right for you and has an excellent understanding of the look you want to achieve with your breast surgery.

  1. Look for patients that look like you. This is honestly the most important point to ensure the photos will be effective in helping your surgeon to fully understand your desired outcome. The biggest mistake patients make when bringing in before and after photos is that the before result looks nothing like them. Therefore, the after result in the photo is not necessarily a realistic expectation for the patient.

    It is important to find patients who have similar features as yourself; age, skin elasticity and tone, body frame, breast shape, and nipple size/shape to name a few. An 18-year-old patient with no history of breastfeeding will have a different result than a 40-year-old patient who has breastfed two children even with the same implant size and shape. Where you start largely affects your end result, so it’s important to set realistic expectations by concentrating on photos that more closely match your “before” appearance.

    Focusing on these photos will give you the best idea of the results you will have after surgery and will help you to translate that vision to your surgeon.

  2. Take note of the pose and lighting or background. Depending on the surgeon, there may be multiple poses of the same patient available to view. For breast augmentation, you may be able to see before and after photos of both the front and side view of the patient. However, if the before photo is the front view and the after photo is the side view, this is a red flag.

    Different poses can hide things such as scarring or less flattering results. The same goes for lighting and background; if the patient is well lit in the before photo and there are dark shadows in the after, or is shown in a completely different location in the after photo, the surgeon may be attempting to make some aspect of the results less visible.

    Skilled and reputable surgeons will always have photos that are clear and consistent.

  3. Look for symmetrical results. Many surgeons use the phrase “they’re sisters, not twins,” and this is to set realistic expectations and account for the natural asymmetry that every person has. However, if a patient’s breasts look more like “cousins” than “sisters” in the after photos, this should be a warning sign for you.

    While every patient does have some natural asymmetry and it is not realistic for both breasts to be identical, surgeons can correct some asymmetry in the O.R. to make breasts as “even” as possible after surgery. For example, different implant sizes can be used to improve symmetry for patients with breast size imbalance.

  4. Get a feel for the surgeon’s style and artistic abilities. Every surgeon has his or her own unique surgical style. This will be very apparent in the before and after gallery., which exhibits the surgeon’s typical result for breast surgery. This is where you can decide if that surgical style aligns with your desired result.

    Not every patient will have the same style as the surgeon, so you may see a few different types of results in each surgeon’s gallery. However, if you most of the photos you see are the look you’re going for, you may want to schedule a consultation. There’s nothing wrong with a surgeon who has a different style than yours; they just may not be the right surgeon for you.

Now that you’re armed with tips on making before and after photos work for you, we hope you will feel more confident at your consultation or pre-op visit with your surgeon.

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  1. […] can be VERY helpful in determining the right breast implant size for you. If you haven’t read our post on how to read before and after photos, we have some great tips to be sure you get the most out of photos! Many doctors or websites will […]

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