How Realistic Is Computer Imaging in Rhinoplasty?

Q: Dr. Eppley, How accurate is computer imaging for various facial surgeries? I have had several plastic surgeons do imaging for a future rhinoplasty and it is interesting that are significant differences between what they show. It is hard to know what is realistic. I thought computer imaging would show a very accurate result. So why are these plastic surgeons imaging results so different?

A: While computer can take a picture and change a facial feature like a nose, the only way the software knows what to do is based on who is controlling the mouse. In essence, computer imaging is a reflection of what the plastic surgeon THINKS he/she can achieve. They are showing the type of changes they want to illustrate to you presumably based on their experience…and hopefully it is a reflection of what is likely to occur in their hands.

Therefore it is important to understand that facial computer imaging is a prediction…and hopefully that prediction can be achieved by actual surgery.

What I try to show in computer imaging is the MINIMUM result that I think can be achieved as that should be the basis of what motivates one for surgery. More may be able to be achieved but that should be viewed as a ‘bonus’ and not the basis of one’s satisfaction with the result. This becomes critically important in an aesthetic operation like rhinoplasty which is highly scrutinized by the patient afterwards.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana