Facelift Surgery Before and After Photos

I'm considering face lift surgery, and I want to talk with a few different surgeons. What should I look for in facelift before and after pictures? How will I know what is good?

Doctor Answers 61

Facelift Surgery Before and After Photos

This is really an excellent question and one that every person seeking plastic surgery should understand.  There are two aspects to this answer.  The first is the evaluation of the photography technique. Many seemingly improvements are the result of subtle photographic techniques. Second is an evaluation of the surgical result. 


1. lighting- watch to make sure that the same amount and direction of  the light is the same in the before and after.  If the photo is underexposed (darker) then wrinkles look worse and conversely if the photo is overexposed (lighter) then wrinkles and scars tend to disappear. It the flash is off to the side in the before photo it will make the wrinkles look worse and if the lighting is "straight on" in the after photo it will make the wrinkles/scars look better. The appearance of the color should also be the same.  (This is the color saturation and white balance which is easy to manipulate with digital photography.) 

2. focal length- watch to make sure the distance from the camera is the same in both photos.  While this may not be as important in evaluating facial surgery it is very important in body surgery.  A common "trick" is to make the before photo closer and the after photo further away making the patient look thinner. 

3. position of the head- this is very important in facial surgery.  If the preop photo has the head tilted down and the post operative photo has the head tilted up the result will look better just by photography alone.  When plastic surgeons take photos we strive to have the head in same "neutral"  position.  (it is called the Frankfurt line) in the before and after photos. 

4.timing of the photo- the photos should be at least six months after the surgery so that by that time any swelling (which will hide fine lines) has gone.

5. make up-  Is the before photo devoid of make up and the post operative photo with full make up. Make up can make a very dramatic result by itself. 

Surgical result

1. does the result look natural?  Is there improvement in the appearance of the neck, cheek, jowls. Is there any evidence of distortion. Look carefully at the corners of the mouth.

2. appearance and placement of the scars.   Are the scars fine and well hidden?

3. appearance of the hair line. Has the hair line been distorted?

4. look carefully at the ear position and appearance of the ear lobes to make sure they are not distorted.

With all of these points in mind don't worry to much about "what is good" - you will know. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Before and after photos

Best to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon to ask their opinion with regards to post op expectations.  Best of luck.

Before and after photos of facelifts

You want to look for several things:

-find a patient that has similar anatomy as you...pay attention to the jowls and the hanging neck skin and find an example that looks like you

-a good facelift looks natural, not that wind swept look, make sure you like the results

-there should be a difference in the before and afters that is noticeable and what you want

-the jowl area can be the hardest part to control, so see if the jowling is corrected as well

Nima Shemirani, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Face Lift Before and After Photos

I agree with you, it is important to see your plastic surgeon's before and after face lift photos before deciding to undergo a face lift with that surgeon.  Here are a few things to look for in before and after face lift pictures:

1.  Look at the before and after face lift surgery results.  Do the patients have a decrease in forehead wrinkles, a tighter neck line, less jowling, less marionette lines, and a refreshed look?  Are these results that would make you happy?

2.  Look at scars in the hairline, in the upper eyelid crease, lower eyelid crease, in front of the ear, and behind the ear.  Do these face lift scars seem acceptable to you?

3.  Look at the new hairline and side burns.  Do you notice differences before and after facelift surgery?  Is this acceptable to you?

4.  Look at the ear lobe.  Does the ear lobe look natural or stuck to the side of the neck?  There should be a normal break between the lower portion of the ear lobe and the upper neck.

5.  How long postoperatively were the pictures taken?  Does the surgeon show any long term results (5-10 years) of patients?

6.  Consider the number of before and after face lift photos the plastic surgeon is showing you.  Are there only one or two photos that represent the very best results, or a wide array of patients, types of surgeries, and results?

7.  Consider the quality and lighting of the photogragphs.  Are there shadows and a lack of makeup making the preoperative phots look worse?  Are the before and after photos standardized for each patient?


Jaime Perez, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

What to look for in before and after photos

Before and after photos are a great way to get an initial impression of a plastic surgeon’s aesthetic and technique. There are a few things you should keep an eye out for:

-Make sure that the before and after photos were taken at the same angle and in the same lighting, and try to find photos where the patient is not wearing makeup.

-Try to find photos of patients with similar concerns and a similar face shape to you. If your main concern is jowls but you’re looking at photos of brow lifts, that’s not going to tell you anything relevant.

-Take note of how natural the results look. Some plastic surgeons have a more artificial aesthetic, and may create an overly smooth appearance. Try to find a surgeon whose aesthetic most closely matches what you want your results to be.

-Try to find a double board certified facial plastic surgeon. Facial plastic surgeons specialize in facelifts, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, and other facial procedures, and generally have more skill and knowledge when it comes to surgery of the face.

Keep in mind that before and after photos are only part of the process. It’s important to visit any facial plastic surgeon in person so that you can talk to them, discuss your concerns, and come up with the best treatment option. If your facial plastic surgeon does not make you feel comfortable during the consultation, or doesn’t answer all your questions, it’s okay to keep looking. You want to build a relationship of trust, especially since it’s your face in question.

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

How do I judge before and afters?

Although to a certain degree beauty is 'in the eye of the beholder,' there are a couple things you should critically look at in before and afters: objective photo conditions. The before AND after photos should be taken with the EXACT SAME position AND lighting; be weary of post-ops where patients are wearing makeup. Another common way people try to make their results look better is to have the patient raise their chin to make a neck look tighter. Beyond that, it is up to you to determine if you like the results or not.

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Facelift Before and After Photos when Considering a Surgeon

This is a great question because so many people do not know what to look for.  in general. you should look for before and after facelift photos that look good to you.  In other words, does the surgeon achieve results that look good to you.  Many surgeons will say look for natural results and you will see all sorts of advice here and else where, but it is your opinion that matters most.  

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Facelift before and after photos

The most important thing to look for is that the images are as close to identical as possible in terms of positioning, lighting, color balance, and overall brightness and contrast. 

It is important that facial expression is neutral and similar in both. Far too often surgeons may have a before image that shows a non-smiling expression often with the chin a bit lowered and then the after image is smiling with an extended chin which dramatically changes the parameters of the comparison. 

Look for sharply focused comparisons not an after picture in which the contrast has been reduced and the brightness increased to reduce the viability of details.

Ludwig A. Allegra, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Your specific goals

As surgeons we all have our own aesthetic eye. Think about what it is you are trying to accomplish and pay special attention to these areas of the photos. For instance a common area of complaint is the jowl area (where the chin and jaw meet). So if that is your concern see if that is something your surgeon accomplishes in their patients.

We can very the technique to meet your needs so have a detailed discussion with your surgeon and ask to see photos of someone who required similar work. 

Benjamin Caughlin, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

What to Look for in Before and After Photos

Hi and thanks for your question.  The important thing to look for in before and after photos is for natural results and to see many examples of the surgeon's work.  If a surgeon is doing facelifts regularly, he or she should be able to show many results.  Good luck.

Jonathan Pontell, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 105 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.