What Is The Name Of The Computer Imaging Program For Plastic Surgery?

Q: What is the name of the computer program application which allows a plastic surgeon to show anticipated changes prior to surgery?

A: Computer imaging, or predictive surgical outcomes, is a very useful tool in elective cosmetic plastic surgery. Its value is not in that the predictions are a guarantee of what the final results will be, but as a communication tool between plastic surgeon and patient. Through the exchange of predictive images, it is far more likely that the plastic surgeon will have a good idea as to exactly what the patient does, and does not, want to achieve by the proposed surgery. Some unhappy outcomes from plastic surgery are the direct result of a misunderstanding of what the procedure(s) could do. This type of complication can be avoided by good communication before surgery and computer imaging can help that important process.

While it can be used all over the body, computer imaging is most effective and predictive for the face. It is particularly good in profile changes, such as rhinoplasty, chin and neck changes and forehead contouring. Because it is morphing anatomy that is contrasted with a different color background, the changes can be very accurate in many cases. They are also quite easy to see and appreciate. Frontal face imaging is also very useful but it is less accurate as one is pushing around and changing colors of pixels that are more similar. It is very easy to overpredict outcomes (looks better than what can really be achieved) in frontal views and the experienced and artistic hand of the plastic surgeon is really needed here to avoid an exaggerated prediction.

There are numerous software programs out there for computer imaging of the plastic surgery patient. The most common and widely available one is that of Photoshop Elements.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana