Before & After Picture Guide

When it comes to understanding a procedure’s potential finished look, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Before & After Picture Guide

When it comes to understanding a procedure’s potential finished look, a picture really is worth a thousand words. But unlike other more standardised aspects of plastic surgery, the way that results are documented is seldom uniform and comes down to individual technique.

Read on to discover why cosmetic surgery before and after pictures are so important and how you can take the best before & after photos of your results to help other patients on their cosmetic surgery journeys.

Why before and afters matter

Even if a surgeon is practising to industry standards, is well-reviewed and knows how to perform a particular operation, there’s no accounting for what that surgeon believes an ideal outcome actually looks like. Basically, before and after pictures give patients a visual illustration of the surgeon’s aesthetics and the kind of results they could expect if they choose that surgeon.

Before and after pictures are also helpful because they provide a realistic idea of what the procedure can achieve. When looking for before and after photos, it’s always far more beneficial to look for patients who have are a similar age, shape and ethnicity and, of course, have the kind of results you want. It can be challenging to envision how a procedure will actually change your appearance – pictures of real results keep expectations in line and set you up to feel confident throughout your cosmetic surgery journey.

The anatomy of great before and after pictures

Whether you're taking photos to show results on the face, breasts or body, the main priority is to highlight the differences before and after the procedure. Advice for quality before and after photos is the same as for most photography. An essential reminder is to not rely on getting copies of any pictures your surgeon may take of you. Legally, these photos are for their professional use only, and you're unfortunately pretty unlikely to have copies sent to you.

It's always better to take photos with your own camera, so you don't have to worry about ownership or usage limitations or wait on anyone to send you the images. Have someone else take the pictures for you or set your camera on a timer. While convenient and great for social media, selfies distort the look of whatever they photograph because the camera is so close to the subject (aka you). This means selfies can easily obscure the natural results of a procedure.

  • A plain, tidy, and preferably neutral-coloured background with good, natural light (not flash) will also allow your results to be seen clearly.
  • Centre the treatment area, keep a neutral posture and take a series of 3 photos: one straight on and one of each profile, left and right.
  • Wear simple clothing, nothing with branding or too many patterns that may distort your results, e.g. a white vest top or t-shirt
  • Don't use filters; as tempting as it may be, it's important your before, and afters are realistic
  • Avoid using selfies; where possible have someone take the picture or use the timer feature.

The pictures should be taken in the same pose, with the same lighting and background at four different times: before, six weeks after surgery, 3 months after surgery and six months post-operatively. This gives a series of 12 pictures and will provide anyone looking at the photos with a comprehensive and realistic view of your results.

If you are concerned about being recognised in your photos, we can blur any identifying marks or features for you.

Taking before and afters: a guide for each procedure

Recommendations for facial cosmetic surgery

  • Do not wear heavy makeup
  • Hair should be kept away from the face
  • Remove any jewellery, piercings, branded clothing, accessories or glasses
  • Look straight ahead without smiling (similar to posing for a passport photo)

Recommendations for breast surgery

  • Wear fitted, simple clothing, e.g. a white t-shirt or vest top. Something form-fitting that does not significantly change the size or shape of the breasts
  • Have a relaxed upright posture (standing is best) with shoulders back and down and arms loosely at your sides.

Recommendations for procedures on the rest of the body

  • Wear something fitted and simple, e.g. a vest top, t-shirt, shorts/underwear. Nothing that may alter the appearance of the results
  • Have a relaxed, upright posture (standing is best) with shoulders back and down and arms loosely at your sides


Taking useful, high quality before and after shots is not difficult; it simply takes a little planning and forethought. When taking before and after pictures, put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for information about your type of procedure. By ensuring your photos offer a clear, accurate portrayal of real-world results, your own cosmetic surgery experience can help guide the way for someone else on the same path.

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