Very few people have seen before and after photos of cellulite treatment results and not felt amazed or impressed. However, there may be more—or make that less—than meets the eye. Behind the most impressive images of “successful” cellulite treatment may lay an age-old secret weapon: lighting. So can before and after images be trusted?
Dimples, Bumps, Peels and Depressions
One plastic surgeon compares cellulite to furniture, specifically a Chesterfield couch. One distinguishing characteristic of this couch is its texture. The Chesterfield couch isn’t smooth or plain on the surface. Buttons placed on the couch make small depressions and tiny dimples which are clearly visible from a certain angle and with the right lighting. However, use diffused lighting and the depressions and dimples disappear.
The plastic surgeon says that making a statement about the role that lighting plays in taking photographs of cellulite-ridden thighs and buttocks does not mean he is making an accusation that someone is doing the carefully staged photographs deliberately. However, he does insist that standardized photography may be the way to go since it will be able to show cellulite in the worst possible light. Then and only then will it be possible to show whether or not a particular type of anti-cellulite treatment actually worked or not—no special effects, no Photoshop, no cosmetics, no diffused lighting.
Manipulation by Lighting
The eyes, for example, can look flawless and picture-perfect when photographed with direct lighting. Even if there is excess fat in the area in the form of under-eye bags, the head-on lighting will remove shadows and thus create an area that will create an illusion of the ideally smooth and beautiful features. However, once the light source is moved above the subject, it is a different story. Light on top of the subject creates shadows. These shadows will also emphasize any puffiness that may be present in the eye area.
Why Lighting and Cellulite Shouldn’t Mix
It is difficult to identify pictures where lighting was used to manipulate an image and it’s even more difficult to determine if the use of lighting to achieve a certain look is deliberate or not. However, here are a few tips. One of the most telling signs of a staged photo is the absence of shadows in the picture. Shadows are notorious for revealing unwanted spots and imperfections. If the picture had been manipulated, shadows may still be present but they are there purposely.
So what do we look for?
Pictures of before and after results should be taken from the same point of view and light should be placed on the same level and angle. That way, the conditions under which the “before” picture was taken will be the same conditions used for the “after” picture.