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The Deal with Before and After Rhinoplasty Photos

Before and after photos are the mainstay of any aesthetic business, from plastic surgery to home remodeling and everything in between.  They show what is possible and can serve as inspiration and motivation.  They also help track results and evaluate results over time. Before and after rhinoplasty photos are thus a vitally important part of the rhinoplasty process.  These days, Instagram and other social media sites are overflowing with these before and after rhinoplasty photos, allowing surgeons to demonstrate their work and market their practices.   But how should you, as a prospective patient, evaluate these images? 

First, take a look at the photos with a critical eye.  From my perspective there are three types of before and after rhinoplasty photos.

1) “Immediate postop.” These are “on the table” photographs taken in the operating room at the end of the case.  These can be helpful in terms of education about surgery and can get you excited about the surgery, but they only tell a very small part of the story.

2) Standardized digital photography. The real before and after rhinoplasty photos occur in the office, under standardized conditions.  There are articles in plastic surgery journals and chapters in textbooks that cover standardized digital photography in detail.  These are the most detailed and serve as a medical record, and can be either 2-dimensional (more common) or 3-dimensional. I believe that the more attention the surgeon pays to the quality of photographs the more dedicated they are to their craft and the more critical they are of their results. 

3) Selfies and “real-life” photos.  Although these standardized before and after rhinoplasty photos are extremely important, they are not the way the face and nose look in real life!  Sometimes surgeons or patients will post before and after rhinoplasty photos in real-world settings.  Look at these to get a sense of the way the clinical results translate into real world results.  It is important here to understand that the typical lenses of phone cameras or laptop cameras (used in selfies, Zoom meetings, etc.) further distort the nose – typically making things look wider – so it is extremely important to keep this mind. 

Gregory Dibelius MD Patient Before and After 6
Gregory Dibelius MD Patient Before and After 6
Gregory Dibelius MD Patient Before and After 6

When it comes to these before and after rhinoplasty photos, take a look at the result, and make sure it aligns with your aesthetic.  You want to make sure that your surgeon shares your sense of what looks good.  If you don’t, this is a sign that you may not be happy with the results!

Finally, realize that no two cases are the same.  The results shown during your consultation or on the internet do not represent a guarantee of a similar outcome.  For example, ethnicity plays a huge role in rhinoplasty, since it not only determines what kind of aesthetic goals you may be looking to achieve, but also critical factors such as the skin thickness, cartilage quality, and the ability to achieve certain parameters like tip definition or tip projection.  This is just one reason why you should ask your surgeon what kind of results can be expected in your specific case.  He or she can help you to understand what kind of results are realistic, and guide you on your way to your very own before and after rhinoplasty photos!

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