I'm very interested in going to a plastic surgeon, but I'm suspicious of their before and after photos. How can I verify that these were actually their patients? Can they get in trouble if they use pictures that are not their own?
Fake Pictures on Plastic Surgeon Websites?
Doctor Answers 4
Ethical advertising and before and after photographs.
I'm surprised that Dr. Aldea claims that "As far as I know, the ONLY professional society" is the ASPS that polices such standards. Let me add to his fund of knowledge by pointing out that the AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery) *also* has established policies regarding truth in advertising and before and after pictures. They are nearly identical to those of the ASPS. They can be freely downloaded from the AAFPRS website, in fact. I've attached a link below to the document (see page 11 in the linked PDF).
Sadly, just as citizen break laws without getting caught, so too do some physicians and surgeons. With photos it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to verify the accuracy of the image. (Even edge artifacts that some people think may imply editing are usually just artifacts of higher JPEG compression...so-called "step-response ringing").
In short, find a surgeon with a good reputation for ethical behavior and quality work.
All the best,
The answer is that most Surgeons are ethical in their use of photography, but a few are not. As previously mentioned, both the AAFPRS and ASPS have a set of policies which require ethical behavior in advertising and use of photography. If you have doubts, ask the Surgeon and if you are unconvinced, get another opinion.
Fake pictures on plastic surgeon websites?
Can they get in trouble if they use pictures that are not their own? - Depends WHERE and WHICH societies they belong to.
I have NO knowledge of professional societies outside the USA.
As far as I know, the ONLY professional society which actually polices its member truth in advertising is The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)(www.PlasticSurgery.org). To become a member of this society you MUST have passed and, depending on the year, continue to pass every 10 years, the board examination given by The American Board of Plastic Surgery - one of the oldest and the ONLY board member of the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) which certifies plastic surgeons in plastic surgery of the ENTIRE body.
ASPS members are NOT allowed to present doctored / photo shopped pictures in any of their advertising along with many other measures intended to protect the American public.
In its CODE OF ETHICS OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS -
section Section 2: Specific Principles
I. Each member may be subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion, if:
The member, either personally or through a partner or associate or any physician or other affiliated health care provider, uses or participates in the use of any form of public or private communication* (including computer imaging and electronic communications) containing a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statement or claim, including a statement or claim which:
1. Contains a misrepresentation of fact, or omits to state any material fact* necessary to make the statement, considered as a whole, not deceptive or misleading.
2. Contains photographs, images, or facsimiles of persons that falsely or deceptively portray a physical or medical condition, injury, disease, including obesity, or recovery of relief therefrom.
3. Contains photographs, images, or facsimiles of persons who have received the services advertised, but who have experienced results that are not typical of the results obtained by the average patient, without clearly and noticeably disclosing that fact.
4. Contains photographs, images, or facsimiles of persons before and after receiving services, which use different light, poses, or photographic techniques to misrepresent the results achieved by the individual.
I know of NO other plastic surgery society which takes such a strong position to protect the American public.
Not all doctors practicing plastic surgery are plastic surgeons NOR members of the ASPS.
So - if you want to be sure - see a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
I hope this was helpful.
Peter A Aldea, MD, FACS
You might also like...
Are fake pictures on a plastic surgeon's website
Dr. Aldea has provided an excellent response with answers I did not even consider.
However, this is one of the reasons to choose both a board certified plastic surgeon as well as one who is a member of ASPS. Both societies have ethical standards and hold members to conform. If not they will be subject to investigation and censorship and even expulsion from the society. I
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.