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Should A Plastic Surgeon Use Digital Imaging To Predict Outcomes?

Technology has greatly improved cosmetic surgery, but does that mean a plastic surgeon should rely on digital imaging to pull in clients? While it has been beneficial in some ways, patients also need to be aware of the potential dangers.

When you go on a consultation with a plastic surgeon, they are likely to use imaging to help you envision your new appearance and better understand the procedure you will undergo. While digital imaging is popular with some offices, there is still some controversy over its use. Some people in the industry believe that it fosters unrealistic expectations, while others find it a beneficial teaching tool.

Digital imaging can't be used for every type of procedure due to the limitations of the technology, but recently programming capabilities have been greatly expanded. There are some offices that have even begun using 3-dimensional figure representations to allow a full view of the face and body from all angles. Imaging is most effective when used for some facial surgeries such as rhinoplasty and chin augmentation or reduction. However, it can also be used for body contouring as well as breast enlargement procedures.

Some doctors feel that digital imaging contributes to unrealistic surgical expectations. When a plastic surgeon uses the imaging program, all of the editing done is merely a prediction of a possible outcome. He is using a mouse to sculpt the face and body, when in reality the process is going to be much more complex. The more skilled the surgeon is, the greater the possibility that he will be able to anticipate possible problems and account for them within his rendering. However, even adjusting for complications is based on speculation.

So exactly how well can a plastic surgeon accurately predict the outcome of a procedure? Unfortunately, there's really no way to answer that question. Most surgeons won't really know until they begin the procedure, and even then individual bodies can heal differently, further altering the results over time. The image produced by most surgeons will be the optimal ideal, which may or not be feasible depending on all of the contributing factors. Patients should only use the projection as a rough guideline and to help them communicate their aesthetic goals.

While digital imaging may have these downsides, it can also still be beneficial to many patients. A visual can help people understand the details about the procedure, which will better prepare them for the potential risks and complications that can arise. If used carefully, it can also help a patient make a more informed and thoughtful decision. For example, people seeking rhinoplasty may have better results if they also augment a receded chin. But it can be difficult for someone to visualize how the two will balance together without a picture.

A patient should use imaging in conjunction with several other factors when choosing a surgeon and a procedure. Concrete evidence of skills and experience is vital, which would include before and after photographs as well as past patient referrals. Bedside manner, legal history, and price should also be used to help narrow down options. Regardless of the time and research put into finding the right person for the job, a patient should always remain realistic and prepared for any risks that they may be undertaking.

Article Tags: Plastic Surgeon, Digital Imaging

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