Surgical manipulation of plastic prostheses using metal instruments is likely to produce surface damage and surface roughness which may compromise biocompatibility of implants due to tissue irritation and increased cellular or bacterial adhesion. There are virtually no data in the literature concerning the clinical occurrence and consequences of manipulative surface damage to implants. We have found that conventional high voltage scanning electron microscopy techniques (HVSEM) obscure surface defects on plastics due in large measure to beam energy “healing” by local melting. This paper reports the use of low voltage SEM (LVSEN) at low beam voltages (<1.5keV) and without the need for conductive carbon or Au/Pd coatings for examination of plastic device surfaces before and after normal surgical manipulation. Results for intraocular lens implants, a major human prosthesis, clearly demonstrate that standard surgical procedures can produce significant implant surface damage which may not be observed by normal SEN analysis. LVSEN has been shown to readily visualize such previously unobserved surface defects in model surgical manipulation experiments. These results have important implications for more reliable polymer surface characterization and for development of improved prosthetic devices, instruments, and implant surgery.