Before and After Imagery: A how-to guide with Dr. Kian Karimi
Before and After Imagery: Tips for Success
What makes a good before and after image? Is it worth the time and expense to produce these images? What is the best way to share these photos? What are some options for producing before and after imagery? Are there any special considerations I need to worry about?
To begin to address some of the common questions we hear about before and after imagery in the medical aesthetics field, we put together this article with input from our marketing team and Dr. Kian Karimi, renowned double board-certified facial plastic surgeon/head and neck surgeon.
What makes a good before and after image?
There are several things that make before and after images so compelling.
Today’s customer is highly motivated by online research. Before and after imagery and testimonials have become our new social proof. Before and after images are visual proof that a treatment works and show off your unique skills and results. It’s paramount that before and after imagery have authenticity. You never want before and after images to seem retouched or overly produced as it can hurt the believability of the visual. Sticking to a clear and simple style that focuses on showing the benefits is the best route to take.
For similar reasons, limiting the amount of wardrobe styling and makeup that your patients are wearing and ensuring that these elements are consistent in the before and after shot will help make a comparison of the images easier for customers. This keeps the focus on the treatment benefits and avoids the distractions of makeup or styling.
Consistency with your before and after images are key. You will want to match lighting, angle, and patient expression as much as possible in the imagery. Taking this approach will ensure that your results are easily apparent. For in-office treatments, you can try setting up a before and after area in your office that can be dedicated for this purpose. Using a tripod for your camera and a chair for your client to sit on will help you maintain consistent framing. Small marks or visual indicators on walls can help you keep consistency in the direction and position the patient is facing when looking straight ahead and to the right or left.
Detail and focus matters in these images. If you are highlighting something that has subtle effects or features a change in skin texture, you may want to try getting sharp and focused detail shots that show how your treatment works on an up close and personal level. Similarly cropping an image to focus on the area that has been modified will help the customer focus on what has changed.
Los-Angeles based plastic surgeon, Dr. Kian Karimi tells us, “For certain procedures, multiple angles and with the patient making different expressions are vastly more informative and relatable than a single before and after set of images.” Ultimately, the more informative your imagery is, the more useful it will be to potential patients considering similar treatments.
Is it worth the time and expense?
With instant access to detailed information, today’s customer is even more educated and savvy than ever. According to Forbes.com, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.1 In relation to cosmetic surgery and medical aesthetic procedures, a Real Self survey noted that 83% of consumers said they would not consider a practice that doesn’t have before and after photos.2 These two facts make it clear that including before and after imagery as a key component of your marketing strategy can be pivotal for success.
Acclaimed plastic surgeon, Dr. Kian Karimi tells us, “As modern consumers rely on online reviews and before and after imagery, it is important to consider the governing algorithms of reach and discoverability for your social media accounts like Yelp, RealSelf, Google Business and Instagram. Keeping up with these ever-evolving social media updates and competitive advertising budgets can be intimidating, however we do know that many popular platforms prioritize accounts that publish consistent and quality content. For example, when it comes to Yelp, frequently sharing new before and after photos adds to your visibility on the platform and ultimately your business.”
Dr. Kian Karimi adds, “High quality before and after photos are an investment that can be used in a multitude of ways beyond simply showcasing treatment results or a provider’s unique skills and expertise. An essential factor of patient satisfaction is for patients to have reasonable expectations for the results that can be achieved from a procedure. Having consistent, high quality photos will set the expectations of your future patients by letting them know what type and scale of transformation they can potentially achieve if they choose a specific procedure or your practice over another.”
Beyond supporting marketing outreach for future clients, Dr. Karimi finds before and after imagery is also helpful for his current patients. He tells us, “Proper before and after photos documenting the results achieved can be a valuable asset for demonstrating subtle improvements to existing patients who may initially not be able to appreciate the changes made. One of our top priorities is not make it appear that someone has not undergone treatments so the changes can be subtle.”
Providing patients with a set of their before and after images can also be a good guide for evaluating when a refresher treatment should be considered. With treatments that require semi-annual or annual maintenance, like dermal fillers and neuromodulators, being able to compare before and after imagery to their current look can help patients see when results may be starting to fade.
What is the best way to share these photos?
To make the most of your before and after imagery it’s a good idea to share the content in as many places as possible. Online channels that you control, like your website and social media accounts are a great place to start.
When you are posting before and after images to social media channels like Instagram, be sure to use hashtags that will help potential patients who are searching for related topics find your content. As you are working to build your audience in the start, you may want to consider paying to promote your posts to a wider audience in order to grow your following. Promoting content via Instagram and Facebook is a relatively easy process with lots of customizable settings so you can decide how much you are willing to spend, who you want to target with your message, and how long your message should be promoted for. Ideally, as your following grows you will need to promote content less often as you will have the momentum of your followers and fans behind you!
You may also be able to share results through third party websites that are popular places for patients to get information regarding providers and treatments. Real Self is a great example of a very popular platform where you can create a profile for your business that includes before and after treatment imagery.
Dr. Kian Karimi finds that sharing information about the patient’s expectations, the treatment process & their feelings about the results is more helpful than imagery alone. He says, “If a patient is really happy with their results, I suggest capturing a brief written or video testimonial in the office to make the photos even more impactful. User generated content such as self-shot video testimonials from happy patients or ‘selfie’ photos documenting a patient’s recovery process firsthand are often educational sales tools that can influence consumer behavior. Emotional triggers can be effective in convincing prospective patients that they too can achieve their goals through your services and expertise.”
What are some options for producing before and after imagery?
There are many options for producing before and after imagery and each practice will have to weigh what will work best for their situation. If you want to produce before and after imagery in your office, investing in some basic photo equipment like a tripod and a simple lighting kit can go a long way to ensuring your shots are consistent and clear. A DIY approach works well for providers who want to keep costs down or want to post new imagery very frequently.
To obtain good results, you will want some basic equipment, including the following; digital camera, tripod, and 2-3 lights. Of course, options for each of these items are numerous. There’s no need to break the bank with premium equipment. The key to getting good images is in the details.
Keep in mind that consistency is key to a successful image and pay special attention to the: patient’s facial expression, light positioning, camera settings, camera distance from subject, tripod height, and so forth.
When considering light placement, adding two lights on both sides of the camera can help to create even light. You can use an umbrella or a softbox to diffuse the light, softening shadows. A third light can be placed higher and in front of the subject to create highlights, or behind the subject to illuminate the background.
When focusing, avoid using too much zoom as it can lower image quality. Instead, place the camera and tripod closer to the patient. The camera should be no more than a 3-6 feet from the patient.
If you are new to this process, don’t be overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect. Develop a process and procedure, refine it as you get more skilled.
Alternately, if you prefer to enlist the help of experts, you can coordinate a before and after day where you hire a professional photographer who can help you capture results from multiple treatments in one day. In order to keep consistent frequency with your content you can post these images one at a time over the course of a month or two via social media and online channels. This approach works best for those who want to ensure high image quality and don’t want content creation to interrupt their daily routine.
No matter what method you decide on, be sure that the quality of your content reflects your effort and expertise. Dr. Karimi advises, “The often cited quote “content is king” refers to the belief in the world of online marketing that the success of a website or social media campaign depends on quality of content.”
Are there any special considerations I need to worry about?
The short answer to this question is, Yes! Patient information is sensitive. Due to doctor/patient confidentiality, you should never share imagery of your patients or any information about them without their express written consent. If your patient is open to the idea of sharing his or her story and results, provide a consent form that outlines exactly how the imagery will be used and what text will accompany it. Some things to consider including are:
- Where will the imagery be viewable?
- Will it be online, printed or both?
- Will the patient be recognizable in the image?
- Will any other information be included, like the patient’s name?
- Do you have permission to use the imagery in perpetuity, or is there a time limit for usage?
Putting together a clear consent form will help avoid any confusion or miscommunication that could lead to dissatisfaction on either side of the relationship.
Also, when promoting any medical aesthetic procedure, we recommend that you always include information relating to any safety risks that are associated with the treatment. Being clear and honest about what is involved and what the risks are ensures that there are no surprises for your patient and that he or she can be fully prepared for a successful procedure come treatment day!
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1. Erskine, Ryan. (2017, September 19). 20 Online Reputation Statistics That Every Business Owner Needs To Know. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com
2. Seery, Tom. (2014, September). Marketing Must-have: Great Before & After Photos. Retrieved from http://www.modernaesthetics.com