Should pre & post operative pictures of aesthetic patients have shown publicly?
Why to see the possible result in advance?
Aesthetic surgery is a branch of medicine that focuses more on appearance. A significant portion of aesthetic surgery patients are healthy and apparently normal. They want to be more attractive and beautiful and if they wont get this the consequence will be a huge disappointment. For this reason it is not surprising that patients who seek aesthetic surgery want to learn and see the final result before the operation.
How does aesthetic patient choose a plastic surgeon?
The answer to this question is different 40 years ago and today. In the years when the internet was not used, people found their doctors by asking their friends and colleagues or applying to the trusted institutions. University and state hospitals and some private hospitals came to mind when reliable institutions were mentioned. It was believed that the surgeons working here were privileged and good surgeons. The social environmental factor was equally important. For example, those who wanted to have a nose job would have more confidence with the doctor recommended by a friend. Advertisements and programs in newspapers, magazines, radio and television also played a role in the selection of doctors to a certain extent. Today, the internet and the social media play a more important role in choosing a doctor. Organizations and individuals related to aesthetics use visual and written media, especially the internet, very effectively. The best way to impress aesthetic-minded people is to post very successful results for all to see. The before and after photos (with its name among the public) are the most effective advertising tool. Aesthetic surgery is a branch of medicine and depends on medical ethics and laws. According to the laws in Turkey, advertising by doctors is actually prohibited. Physicians can only inform the public about various medical issues and post advertisements only about where they work and working hours. The law prohibits the unauthorized sharing of personal information, including pictures about patients. Apart from the law, medical ethics also requires that patient information must be kept confidential between the doctor and the patient. Some organizations hide people’s faces and publish before and after photos. According to the laws in Turkiye, advertising by showing medical pictures is prohibited even if the face is not visible.
Are pictures reliable?
If before and after photos were not forbidden in our country and could be freely published, how effective would this be in choosing a doctor? Especially in studies conducted in the USA, aesthetic patients seeking a doctor were asked how much they trust before and after pictures on the internet. The results are shown in the table below:
As can be seen from the table, although the before and after pictures give an idea, they do not give full confidence. There are various reasons for this. Usually, before-after pictures for advertising are chosen among the best results. There is no guarantee that the same successful result will be obtained in the person who is considering surgery. The more important reason for skepticism is the possibility of making changes or taking non-standard photos. A nose picture can be taken from the angle that will give the worst view before the surgery and can be taken after the surgery in a way that will cover all the mistakes and give the best view. Today’s technology enables changing the pictures unbelievably. So some pre and post operative pictures could be misleading. As an example you can look at the above pictures. Both are the same celebrity with normal appearance and after makeup and picture manipulation.
The most reliable indicator of a physician’s success is the patient satisfaction. Satisfied patients are also appreciated by the social environment resulting in the raised reputation of this surgeon. This is actually the most effective and reliable promotion method.