What to Look for in Before and After to Ensure Honest Photos

Face & Neck Lift

Whether you’re considering a new haircut, a weight-loss program, or even plastic surgery, chances are good that you rely on before and after photos to help you decide which program or product to use. Unfortunately, you can only believe half of what you see since some of these photos aren’t exactly honest. Here’s what you should look for in a before and after photo to make sure you’re seeing the truth.


One of the first giveaways that you’re looking at a faked before and after photo is a lack of symmetry. Often, the “after” photo won’t have the same symmetry as the “before” photo. You may notice that one eye looks a tiny bit higher than the other, or that one nostril is marginally smaller than the other. These things may indicate that a photo has been retouched or fabricated, so be sure to use your discretion if you notice any asymmetry in the photos.


A real before and after photo will have the same lighting in each photo. In fact, many legitimate surgeons, weight loss companies, and product developers work hard to duplicate parameters – including lighting – for each photo. If one photo appears lighter or darker, or if the light seems to be coming from a different direction, there’s probably something to hide. Either the photographer shifted the light source to conceal a flaw, or the photo has been retouched.


When you look at before and after photos, it’s vital to ensure that the poses are identical. When it comes to facial photos, the model should be holding his or her head in the very same position – looking directly forward without tilting his or her head up or down. If you notice any discrepancy in the poses, this is a dead giveaway that the photo has been manipulated in some way. For example, if the model holds her chin lower in the “before” photo, this may be done to decrease the appearance of wrinkles in the neck area, which makes the “after” photo look far more convincing.

Natural Flaws

The entire goal of plastic surgery (and other types of self-improvement) is to improve your overall appearance, and this should absolutely show in before-and-after photos. However, if the after photo looks too perfect, or if the flaws in the before photo look exaggerated, then there’s a good chance they’ve been edited. Even the “after” photo should show some flaws; after all, no one is perfect – not even after surgery. If things look flawless, you should question the truthfulness of the photos.


Finally, before and after photos should be simple. If you see an entire set of photographs taken from multiple angles, or if the lighting appears completely professional, then a photo crew probably used a variety of techniques to improve the quality of the photos and hide flaws. A professional photo crew can improve the “before” photo and downplay the quality of the “after” photo, making it appear that a procedure was far more successful than it actually was.

As you can see, there are several ways in which a photographer can make a before and after photo seem far more convincing than it should be. As such, pay attention to the five things above, and if your instinct says something is amiss, be sure you listen to it.