Are Before and After Cosmetic Photos Required?

I don't want photos - I can take my own - in a file accesible by anyone in the office. I understand they will not be identifiable, but in the file they are accesible to non medical personnel (front office staff) and can be viewed at any time. I thought HIPPA allows for opt out but the physician is insisting on this before doing the lipo. I see no medical reason as all procedures are required to be documented by the surgeon in writing.

Doctor Answers 7

Are Before and After Cosmetic Photos Required?

Interesting question. Yes HIPPA allows an "opt out"  clause but standard of care issues occur. In other words what would a prudent practitioner in Plastic surgery require? In my own 40 phone call survey to my local boarded colleagues the respond was 100% the need for at least pre operative photographic documentation. Thee reasons are varied from remembering the areas and a refresher, able to compare the results from the treatments or surgeries, to "standard of care" issues. Asking a few PI attorneys, to a person their legal advise was to document with photographs everything. Thus If I was your PS I would require at least a pre operative photographic record.  

Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 174 reviews

Before And After Photos

Taking photographs serves a few purposes.  One is for planning.  Most rhinoplasties require a detailed plan and having the photos allows the surgeon to work out the plan ahead of time.  Breast lift and breast reduction are other examples of surgeries that have different techniques and the photos are useful for planning.

Another reason is for the surgeon's own education.  Comparing before and after photographs helps the surgeon better define the expectations as well as the technique.

You also must not forget documentation.  If someone is unhappy after the surgery the photographs are a record of what changes were made.

I'm sure that if you express your concerns to your plastic surgeon there should be some sort of solution.  One option is to place the photos in an encrypted folder.  Only the surgeon would have the password.  Another is to save the photos in a format that is not easily readable so prying eyes can't find it.  Good luck to you.

Al Rosenthal, MD
Lawrenceville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Are Before and After Cosmetic Photos Required?

     Cosmetic plastic surgery is about the transformation and improvement.  Without pictures, doctors have no manner to document that improvement or protect themselves.  A doctor who performs cosmetic surgery would be foolish to operate without pictures.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Pictures are needed for doucmentation

Patients and surgeon forget what patient exactly looked before surgery and pictures help to document the surgical area. The pictures that taken from the surgical site should be stored in different computer and  password protected. The other issue is the trust between you and your surgeon and if you do not trust him/her with your pictures,how can you trust them to do surgery on you..

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Patients are not required to have pre-and postoperative photographs.

Any patient who does not want to be photographed should not be photograph. Keep in mind that an important part of the medical record will go unfilled. In liposuction, the pre-and postoperative photographs are really the surgeons grade cards.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Photos are not required but often very useful


Each plastic surgeon has his or her own photo requirements or preferences.  I always take photos since they not only serve as documentation but it also helps me plan out surgery.  You should discuss this with your plastic surgeon and reach some type of agreement.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 166 reviews

Are Before and After Cosmetic Photos Required?


These are standard medical record. What you are asking is like asking you doctor not to record your heart and lung sounds in the chart. HIPPA may allow this opt out, but your surgeon is not obligated to do surgery on a patient that doesn't comply with standard medical record keeping. 

Your call. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

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.