Is Computer Imaging Necessary for Plastic Surgery of the Face?

Q: Hello there… I was curious on whether you dabble in computer imaging for let’s say a jaw enhancement procedure. Thanks.

A:  When considering structural facial alterations, as opposed to age-related changes, it is extremely important for the patient to have a reasonable idea as to what their face may look like. For this reason in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, I never do such facial surgery without computer imaging before surgery.

Several points about computer imaging, however, are important for patients to understand. First, facial computer imaging is a prediction but not a guarantee of results. It is the plastic surgeon’s best estimate of what he or she thinks may happen. But plastic surgery is not like Photoshop. How the body heals and responds to surgical manipulation of its tissues is not precisely predictable. Think of computer imaging as a communication tool primarily. It helps ensure that what the patient finds acceptable is surgically possible.

Secondly, the most predictable facial features to image are those that can be done in profile. With a contrast between flesh-colored skin and a solid color background, it is much easier to change the feature in a more precise manner. Therefore,  procedures that change the brow (brow bone reduction), nose (rhinoplasty), chin (chin augmentation/reduction), and neck (liposuction, facelift, tracheal reduction) can be imaged with reasonable realistic accuracy. Certain frontal (face forward) structures can also be done, such as the ears and lips, but most of the face is this view do not have good color contrast between adjacent parts.

Last, if you can not get computer imaging for these types of facial plastic surgery procedures…go find another plastic surgeon.

Dr. Barry Eppley