Health IT, Devices & Diagnostics

Digital imaging proves revolutionary in plastic surgery

This story represents my interview with Dr. Samir Undavia, a dual board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Princeton, NJ. Computer imaging allows patients and physicians to envision what the outcome of surgery could be. It takes away the guesswork of the surgery outcome and gives patients an understanding of what to expect. Photo […]

This story represents my interview with Dr. Samir Undavia, a dual board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Princeton, NJ.

Computer imaging allows patients and physicians to envision what the outcome of surgery could be. It takes away the guesswork of the surgery outcome and gives patients an understanding of what to expect.

Photo morphing has helped me find happier patients. Why is that? Because they know what to expect out of the surgery!

So wait: What is “morphing?”

Computer imaging and “morphing” involves taking standardized photos before the procedure. Next, surgeons use an image morphing program to “merge” the two images together.

Remember those funny “what would your kids look like” apps? That is one example of “morphing.”

The type of computer imaging that we use is far more sophisticated than an app on your “iDevice.”

While consumer-specific “morphing” apps produce sometimes silly or unrealistic outcomes, the morphing technology we use shows realistic surgical outcomes to patients. They produced precise photos of a patient post-op.

How is “morphing” done?

Featuring photos from the front and side view (using more, depending on the procedure), the morphing can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour. After the images are morphed, both the patient and physician review the results. From the physician’s standpoint, the images should be attainable with surgery.

For example, with rhinoplasty, a goal of surgery is to make the nose smaller. Patients often bring in photos from magazines and expect that same outcome. Using morphing, a patient can see what their nose will look like; no guessing required.

Additionally, the limits of surgery can be reviewed with imaging. If a nose can’t be made any smaller than the morphed image, the patient is advised before surgery. That allows them to know what they are getting into. Showing realistic goals will result in a happy patient.

The patient experience

If the result of the morphing is not exactly what they had in mind, this is the patient’s opportunity to express that to the doctor. One common example is a rhinoplasty procedure; they may want a straight bridge of the nose, or more scooped out. Patients need to be able to convey that to the physician preoperatively, or pre-op.

Morphing must be recognized only as a goal for surgery, and not a promise of surgical outcome.

Unexpected recovery factors are always a possibility, but, with photo morphing, many of the variables have already been removed. By visually predicting the outcome of the surgery, both patient and physician can feel assured they’re on the same page.

The future of plastic surgery is already here

Computer imaging allows me to show, not tell, what a patient’s plastic surgery outcome will be. My experience is that this helps my patients feel at ease with the procedure pre-op and the the post-op outcome.

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