You’re considering breast augmentation but haven’t decided on a plastic surgeon. How do you choose a doctor you can trust? One who will understand your vision for yourself and who has the skill and sensitivity to bring it to reality? This is a life-transforming procedure, and you’re right to be thorough as you evaluate potential doctors.
Of course, you should look for the appropriate credentials, including board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Beyond that, you want to find a surgeon with extensive experience in breast augmentation and a proven track record of exceptional results. This is where before-and-after photos can help. The pictures on a doctor’s website can provide clear evidence of a surgeon’s work — as long as you know how to look at them.
What to Look for in Before and After Photos
Plastic surgery is a medical procedure, but it has an important aesthetic element. Before-and-after photos can help you learn about a surgeon’s style. The pictures show the changes the surgeon has made to these women’s bodies, and as you review the work of different surgeons you’ll begin to see subtle differences in their approaches.
The most important thing to look for is evidence of how the surgeon has transformed women like you — women of your age and ethnicity, with your body type, and with your breast size and shape. Look at all of the pictures, but pay the closest attention to the ones where the “before” picture looks the most like you.
Here are some things to look for as you study the before-and-after galleries:
- Natural-looking results. The goal of all plastic surgery is to enhance a person’s beauty, and that is only effective if the results look natural. Look for results that are attractive and natural-looking — “after” pictures which, if you saw them alone, without the “before” pictures, would not draw your attention as the work of plastic surgery.
- Symmetry and proportion. Our perception of beauty is influenced by subtle variances in symmetry and proportion. A skilled plastic surgeon understands the mathematics of beauty — which, in the case of breast augmentation, includes the alignment between the breasts and their shape, not just their size. In the before and after pictures, look for improvements in breast proportions and attention to balance and symmetry.
- Variety and diversity. Women come in many shapes and sizes, and the best plastic surgeons tailor their work to the unique features of each of their patients. Look for beautiful results with a range of body types. If too many of the pictures look the same — similar before and similar after — the surgeon may not have the skill and aesthetic discrimination to make your transformation uniquely suited to you.
- Placement and visibility of scars. All plastic surgery leaves scars, and a key element in the art of the practice lies in placing incisions where scars will be least visible. In breast augmentation, scars are typically minimized by making an incision along the fold under the breast or, in some cases, around the areola. Look carefully for these scars in the after pictures. If they are hard to find, that’s evidence the surgeon has done the work well.
- Honest photography. We all know that it’s possible to distort appearances with tricks of photography. Close-up pictures with a wide-angle lens make our noses look big, and pictures from farther away with a telephoto lens can make our faces look fat. Harsh lighting accentuates wrinkles and soft lighting hides them. Another trick to watch for is the placement of the shoulders. Arms hanging straight down or in a slight forward slouch can make the breasts sag in before pictures, while pulled-back shoulders in after photos can make the breasts look perkier. When reviewing before-and-after galleries, look for honest comparisons — the same lighting, angle of view, and posture in the pairs of pictures.
Schedule a Consultation
When you know what to look for, the before-and-after pictures posted on a plastic surgeon’s website can help you do an initial screening. But they don’t tell the whole story. Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule a consultation with the doctor. He or she can examine your breasts and explain the breast augmentation options best suited to you. In that conversation, you’ll get a better sense of the doctor’s approach and whether it’s a good fit for you.
Josh Waltzman, M.D., in Long Beach, CA, is a board-certified plastic surgeon, skilled and experienced in breast augmentation and other cosmetic procedures. Call us at (562) 448-6100 to schedule a personal consultation.