The real ‘Before and After’ story

We all enjoy 'Before and After' photographs, but they are a very unreliable guide for those considering surgery. That’s because they sidestep the really important pre-surgical considerations.

For instance, almost all photographs show patients within weeks or months after surgery. What you actually need to know is how good will the result be in five, ten or twenty five years? Ask yourself, would looking better for just a year or two represent a good outcome for you? This is a critical ‘before’ surgery consideration and you should always look to see if any long term photographs have been provided for you to assess.

Also, photographs cannot tell us if an ‘after’ result actually matched the patient's hopes. A photograph may show a startling improvement, but if the patient was hoping for a subtle improvement they will feel dismayed by this. Patient happiness is the only determinant of a successful ‘before and after’ and two photographs can never tell that particular story.

And, do you actually know what to look for in a photograph? Can you pick the telltale signs of poor surgery? Some of the ugliest legacies of poor quality surgery, which will be immediately obvious to everyone in real life, may be hard to spot in a single photograph.

Even knowing how to assess a post-surgical result can be confusing. We have found this is to be such a common source of uncertainty for patients that Bryan Mendelson has written a clear and sensible guidebook, ‘What to look for in a Facelift’, which includes some must-see photographs to ensure our patients have the knowledge required to properly analyse before and after results.

It’s our view that the real ‘before and after’ considerations are too important to be left to a couple of photographs. The real consideration before surgery - and before looking at photographs - is, what do I really want my surgery to achieve?

Here are a few ‘before’ questions to help you think about this:

  • Will I be happy if my ‘after’ result lasts for a year or two? Or do I want to look good for my age into the future?
  • How important is looking natural to me?
  • What degree of improvement do I want?
  • How much time can I allocate to surgery and recovery?
  • Is there one area of my face I want improved, or would I really like to look refreshed overall?

Questions like this are the real guide to your own successful ‘before and after’ journey. This is why we spend so much time with our patients before surgery. It ensures they start their journey confidently and with clear objectives. After that, Bryan Mendelson individually plans and tailors their surgery to ensure their after result matches those objectives.

Thinking through, and planning the journey together, is the really important ‘before and after’ work.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

“Advanced surgical techniques provide benefits that last for decades, not a year or two. We have patients enjoying the benefits of their surgery 25 years afterwards. Twenty five years of happiness with their result – that is what before and after is all about."