Is Photoshop a good tool to understand your look after surgery? (photo)

I am 52 year old skinny and with good skin. I would like aggressively fight my jowls, marionette lines, folds near my nose and neck sagginess. I contacted a doctor and was told that they will take my picture at the appointment and will Photoshop it to show me how I will look after the surgery. Do you think it is real? I just try to understand if it is possible to completely remove my problems? Does the surgery worth it for me? I know some people and they were very disappointed after the surgery.

Doctor Answers 18

Facelift results

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Photoshop and similar programs are not ideal tools for determining post-operative results. Instead, look at the before and after photos from your surgeon. Look for patients with a starting point similar to yours with a result that looks like what you are hoping to achieve. Be sure the photos are from three different perspectives with similar cropping, lighting and distance from the camera.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

Photoshop facelift results are unrealistic

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Using Photoshop to create facelift results is a very unrealistic method.  Essentially with the Photoshop you are painting away aging changes and creating an artificial image of what you will look like after surgery.

Essentially the use the Photoshop will give you an unrealistic expectation of your results.

In my experience you can get a more realistic idea of how you will look after a facelift by placing your hands on each side of your face and tightening and pulling the face back and up.

When consulting a plastic surgeon for a facelift you should demand to see actual before and after photographs of patients upon whom that surgeon has performed facelift.  In addition in my practice I provide patients with the opportunity to speak to former patients of mine who have had facelift surgery.

It may be unfair of me to say this, but I have always felt that surgeons using Photoshop to show before and after results of plastic surgery  can be guilty of false advertising.

Compare imaging is a form of communication for cosmetic surgery

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Computer imaging is  a form of communication, so the patient's and surgeon's can understand the expectations and goals of the proposed procedure.  At age 52, a comprehensive face/ neck lift is required to  tighten the jowls, marionette lines, folds, and sagging neck skin. A lower face and neck lift will tighten the neck muscles in 3 locations, tighten the jowls and SMAS, tighten loose facial and neck skin and remove fatty deposits in the neck. For many examples of natural facelift results, please see the link below to our facelift  photo gallery

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

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Visualization software

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Photoshop and any visualization software is designed to give you a general idea of how you may look after surgery, but what you see is not what you'll definitely get. It's just an idea. It can help illustrate what you'd like to have done, and it's up to the surgeon to design a treatment plan that will best achieve this.

Looking at your photos, you may benefit from fillers. And you're right, your skin is good!

Photoshop for Facelift?

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Computer imaging technologies like photoshop are much more useful for procedures like rhinoplasty and chin augmentation than for a facelift.  The accuracy of this technology for facial rejuvenative procedures is not highly regarded.  I find it more useful to show patients a range of before and after examples with varying ages and physical characteristics. 

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

Best way to predict result

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There are various ways to illustrate your surgical result.
One is to study the before photos with your surgeon to indicate the look you want - so the surgeon can show you the look you are likely to get. Photoshop and video-imaging are other ways - the goal is not to precisely predict the future but to give you a realistic expectation of your result.

Photoshop for facelift

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I'm not crazy about using photoshop. I find it more useful for you to see photos of cases I have actually done in order to demonstrate the improvement you can expect.  By the way, I think you are a perfect candidate for a facelift.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews


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That is a very good question.  Patients want to know what they are going to look like after the surgery - a very reasonable request.  Photoshop (and other imaging software) can help and are very useful tools.  However, they are not perfect as the software does not account for every vairable - the patient's soft tissue elasticity being the most important in my mind.  But there are otther variables such as the accuracy of the anatomical measurements made by the program and inhernt and unavoidable differences between how the software program "perfomrs the surgery" and how the surgery is actually performed.  So bottom line - in my opinion a tool that can be a sueful part of the consultation.

Michael B. Tantillo, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon

Electronic facelift versus scalpel facelift

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Electronic surgery is always easier than incisional surgery (of course now we are doing robotic surgery which is really both).  The point is that on the computer you do not have to deal with bleeding, tissue elasticity and aging and all of the other factors that require years of training to manage.  In addition if you don't like the results you simply hit the delete or erase button on the computer.  I have yet to find one on any of my patients.

There are several morphing (appearance altering) software programs available. So far as I know everyone of them have a disclaimer stating that the computer picture may not represent actual results.  If the doctor and the patient use the software as an educational tool in a generic sense then these programs are useful just the same as before and after pictures.  But remember "There is no guarantee."  I am not surprised that some of your friends were disappointed in their surgical results, if they expected something identical to the computer results.

Richard O. Gregory, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Is Photoshop a good tool to understand your look after surgery?

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Using a computer to help simulate the results after a surgery can be beneficial.  At our practice we use the Canfield Vectra 3D imaging system to educate patients about what can and can't be done with surgical and non-surgical procedures.  

The patients are told that the results on the computer are not a guarantee but should be used as an educational guideline only.  The 3D imaging system is also helpful to compare before and after results, after the surgery is performed.  See the link below to obtain further information on computer imaging.

I hope this helps.

Timothy R. Miller, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 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.