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The role of photography in aesthetic surgery

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ( ), the not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit, today announced their first-ever photography course at the Royal College of Surgeons, to be held on 10 March, 2006. The one-day course will cover important data-protection issues, explore advances in digital imaging, as well as improve the accuracy of before and after photographs using live models.

`The advances in plastic surgery in the past 10 years are primarily those of photography`

This statement was made over 50 years ago be the father of British plastic surgery, Sir Harold Gillies. In the aftermath of two World Wars, photography allowed surgeons to explain to the public, like never before, the capabilities of the relatively new surgical speciality. Today, photography still has a central role in plastic surgery. It could even be said that the photograph is as important to the plastic surgeon as the x-ray is to the orthopaedic surgeon.

According to Adam Searle, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS;

"I am pleased to participate in this exciting event, which will provide attending surgeons and trainees with essential teaching regarding current aspects of medical photography. At the BAAPS we promote the highest ethical standards in aesthetic practice, including the use of modern photography techniques. They can be a powerful tool for documentation and research purposes, and must be used responsibly."

There are many uses of photography in plastic surgery. It is used for documentation (before and after pictures), accurate communication between the surgeon and the patient during the consultation, demonstrating the results of new surgical techniques, and increasingly for advertising and marketing. Despite the important role of photography, there has until now been no formal teaching of fundamental photographic techniques, medico-legal issues, and the impact of photo-manipulation.

According to Norman Waterhouse, consultant plastic surgeon and former President of the BAAPS, who will be speaking at the event;

"Magazines seem to be full of before and after pictures showing the apparent benefits of cosmetic treatments. Surprisingly, there is currently no code of conduct in the use of photographs by plastic surgeons during pre-operative counselling and marketing. This event offers a valuable forum in which to review these issues."


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