Before & After Picture Guide

A brief guide to taking before and after photos of your face, breasts or body after a cosmetic procedure.

When it comes to understanding a procedure’s potential finished look, a picture really does paint 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 find out why plastic surgery before and after pictures are so important, and how you can take the best before & after pictures of your own results to help other patients on their own cosmetic surgery journeys.

Why Before and After Images Matter

A curious patient can certainly choose a properly qualified and experienced surgeon by checking qualifications and reading reviews, but these factors don’t take into account the aesthetic part of cosmetic surgery.

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 useful in that they provide a realistic idea of what the procedure can achieve. When looking for before and after photos, it’s always far more helpful to look for patients who share your physique and have the kind of results you want.

It can be difficult 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 of is to clearly highlight the differences before and after the procedure.

Advice for quality before and after photos is the same as for most photography.

A key 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 photos.

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 real results of a procedure.

A plain, tidy, and preferably neutral-coloured background with good, natural light (not flash) will also allow your results to shine.

Centre the treatment area, keep a neutral posture, preferably without clothing, heavy makeup, or any other visual distractions, and take a series of 3 photos: one straight on and one of each profile left and right.

The pictures should be taken in the same pose, with the same lighting and background at 3 different times: before, 6 weeks after surgery, and 3 months after surgery. This gives a series of 9 pictures in all 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, Medbelle can blur any identifying marks or features for you. Contact your Patient Care Adviser to learn more.

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

  • Do not wear any clothing on your torso
  • If you are uncomfortable with this, wear a plain, solid colour top that is form-fitting or a bra that does not significantly change the size or shape of your 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

  • Similar to breast surgery, it is best if you do not wear any clothing that obscures your treatment area
  • If you wish to remain clothed in something that covers the treatment area, wear something that is a plain, solid colour and fits close to the body so the results are still visible
  • 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 pictures 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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