It’s often said that photos don’t lie — but that doesn’t mean that people necessarily believe they’re 100% truthful. After all, even the best shot in the world won’t have much impact if the people who view it don’t believe it’s real.
What’s that got to do with aesthetic medicine? Quite a lot, actually, as it turns out that people considering elective aesthetic procedures don’t trust Before and After photos as much as you might think. According to a recent RealSelf Trends survey, just 27% of men and women who had requested a consultation with a doctor on RealSelf described patient photos posted by doctors as “very trusted.”
By comparison, 66% considered them “somewhat trusted,” with the rest considering them “not trusted” or “not at all trusted.”
Given the reasons potential patients cite — the ability to PhotoShop, the use of stock images, etc. — it’s incumbent upon doctors to take appropriate steps to ensure that their Before and After images generate trust and not the opposite. The following best practices can help:
Keep your photo gallery up to date
Nothing says you’re not keeping up with current trends than Before and After images that look like they could’ve come from Ozzie & Harriet’s family photo album. As one survey respondent commented, “A lot of the photos that were shown seem to be very old. You can tell by the hairstyles, the look of the women and the way they were dressed that they were outdated.” If your photos are outdated, it’s all too easy for potential patients to think your skills are, too.
The more diversity, the better
If all your Before and Afters showcase 35-year-old Caucasian women, potential patients of the same demographic may very well find images they can relate to. But older women, those of other ethnic groups and men? Maybe not so much. The fact is, people like to see images of people like them — it gives a much better sense of their own potential results — so it’s best to have as diverse a Before and After gallery as possible.
Quantity aside, quality is crucial
Considering the emotions and expenses that typically accompany elective procedures, your practice website (or social profile) is no place for amateur-hour photography. You don’t need to be Richard Avedon or Annie Leibovitz to take good photos but you do have to pay attention to the basics of lenses, lighting and angles if you want viewers to believe your photos are good indicators of the quality of your work.
Strive for image consistency
Even the best-quality gallery can be easily derailed if viewers suspect they’ve been manipulated in any way. Forget PhotoShop — a change in lighting, different makeup, even a smile in one image and a scowl in the other can raise suspicions that a doctor is trying to manipulate perceived results. As one survey respondent put it, “I hate when the lighting or makeup is obviously better in the after shot. Makes me not trust it.”
When it comes to photos, think big picture
Even though many aesthetic consumers say they don’t completely trust Before and After photos, they still rely on them when conducting their online research. In fact, when asked what resources were critical before selecting a doctor, Before and After photos were cited by 63% of respondents, topped only by board certification (65%) and patient reviews (78%). Highlighting all three in your messaging generates a virtuous circle of trust, where each piece supports and enhances the others. The more trust you generate before they make a decision, the more likely they’ll be to decide to entrust you with their care.