Are Plastic Surgeries Detectable in X-rays and Other Scans?

Are Plastic Surgeries Detectable in X-rays and Other Scans? featured image
Photo Credits: baranozdemir/ Getty Images | Image Used for Illustrative Purpose Only

It’s easy to look at someone and assume a perfectly sloped nose is the result of good rhinoplasty and full lips mean injectables, but you’ll never know if it’s good genes or good work. Truthfully, a person’s plastic surgery history is no one’s business, but as many celebs know, people love to speculate. Some celebs have gone as far as saying they’d be willing to undergo a scan to prove they haven’t gone under the knife. But is cosmetics work really detachable from X-rays and other scans? The truth is surprising. 

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“Traditional, full-body X-rays can detect breast, body and facial implants,” says Atlanta plastic surgeon Carmen Kavali MD. “If the films are taken in the early postoperative period, then drains or pain pumps would also show up.” However, most plastic surgery procedures don’t leave behind any permanent material that would show up on an X-ray or any other scan for that matter. This includes popular procedures like abdominoplasty, breast lift, facelift, liposuction, facelifts and eyelid lifts. When it comes to injectables, New York facial plastic surgeon Matthew White, MD says most hyaluronic acid–based fillers like Juvéderm and Restylane are not “radiopaque,” and therefore would not show up on an X-ray. “The only filler that would show up with be a calcium hydroxyapatite filler such as Radiesse, but Radiesse is not typically used to inject the lips.” He adds that the only way a hyaluronic acid–based filler would show up in a scan is via MRI, but it would require a substantial amount of product.

Dr. Kavali has used an MRI to evaluate complications related to fillers done under questionable circumstances (usually in a different country). “In these cases, the patients tell me they’ve had something injected, but they don’t know what, and they present multiple lumps,” she explains. “The MRI helps determine what type of filler was used, and it lets me see where it was injected—in the muscle, or above or below the muscle.” On the topic of MRIs, White adds, “Any procedure that involved inserting something synthetic such as facial implants, like a chin implant, or a suspension device, like endotine eyebrow suspension for brow lifts, would show up on an MRI.” Additionally, he says a rhinoplasty could show up on an MRI, “if maneuvers were performed to narrow the nasal bones, [which involves] breaking the nose.” 

High-tech scans and doctors aside, without confirmation, no one will ever know if any those flawless features on our fave celebs are the result of good plastic surgery or superior DNA. But here’s the bottom line: Unless someone chooses to share, there’s really no reason to speculate. 

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