Reminder regarding guidelines for before-and-after photo images

(Directive initially published on 28 March 2013, available here)

Since 2013, all services certified or wishing to be HONcode certified displaying before and after photographs (images and/or videos concerning medical treatment) must follow publication rules:

  1. Images must be taken in similar circumstances (lighting, position, camera settings, etc.)
  2. Images must not be modified except when the purpose is to protect the patient's identity, and when the changes do not misrepresent the results of the surgery.
  3. A disclaimer must accompany the photographs/videos concerned, and must include the following information:
  • The before and after images were taken under similar circumstances, and it is the same person on the images,
  • The dates of the images as well as the dates of the surgeries and the number of surgeries,
  • The consent of the persons whose images are posted on the site was duly taken,
  • The photographs have not been retouched or improved,
  • The expected results are specific to each individual, and the consequences of surgical operation cannot be 100% guaranteed.

Example: "The photos illustrating ours before/after clinical cases show consenting persons and the same patients appear, respectively, for the before/after results. These photos have not been retouched. We expressly draw your attention to the fact that the observed result is specific to the person concerned and that an identical result cannot be expected for another person, because of the individuality of each person."


These rules do not apply to before-and-after photo images used for educational purposes, such as radiology images showing students the results of a particular operation.
These rules for publishing before/after photos are an integral part of the compliance guidelines in Principle 5 of the HONcode: Justification