When patients consider plastic surgery or medical aesthetic interventions, the firrst thing they want to know is how they will look after the procedure. Accordingly, before and after images—whether they are posted on websites, displayed in reception area look books or shared during consultations—have become one of the most powerful patient education and practice growth tools available to practitioners.
Early on, Polaroids and handheld 35mm cameras were the only option for physicians who wanted to document patient outcomes and promote their skills through photography, but in the past 20 years, imaging has evolved by leaps and bounds.
Today’s imaging systems not only help practices capture consistent, high-quality before and after images, they go under the skin to reveal hidden damage, offer 3D simulations of potential outcomes, and provide tools that help practices convert prospective patients and improve both communication and patient satisfaction.
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Perhaps the greatest benefit of current imaging systems is that they allow patients to see the effects of aging and the potential outcome of treatments on their own faces, rather than those of former patients. “It has been our experience that nothing is more impactful on a patient or prospective patient than a photograph of their own face,” says Jim Larkey, director of product management and marketing at Canfield Scientific.
One of the first next-generation innovations in facial photography was the development of facial imaging systems with polarized photography. These systems typically feature a chin rest and rotating camera, so practitioners can take consistent facial photos from different angles. In addition, they allow for both traditional and polarized photography to reveal underlying skin damage and track changes in wrinkle depth.
There are several facial imaging systems with polarized photography capabilities available today, including Canfield’s VISIA Complexion Analysis System and Reveal Imager, the Image Pro from Emage Medical, and FotoFinder’s Aesthetic Face and Aesthetic Deluxe. “These are great for medspas and practices that do face and neck work only,” says Ferdinand Mayer, vice president of FotoFinder Systems. “Our rotatable camera allows for photographs from different angles without the patient having to move.”
Cross polarization eliminates glare on the skin, which makes it easier to see blood vessels, such as telangiectasia as well as pigment on the face. Parallel polarization helps to enhance the skin texture “so you can see fine lines and skin pores even better than you do on a regular photo,” says Mayer. “The Aesthetic Face system allows you to track progress of the patient—you can see improvement and show patients before and after images side by side. It’s also great for consultations because you can show patients the polarized photos in the initial consult.”
In recent years, Canfield added the TruSkin Age comparison tool to its VISIA Complexion Analysis System. The company gathered a large amount of photographical data and used this to develop skin aging models. “At this point hundreds of thousands of pictures have been taken since the VISIA launch, and by analyzing those pictures we have developed models for different skin types and age cohorts,” says Larkey.
Photo copyright Getty Images.