Surgery is an ancient craft, which has been practiced for millennia. In many cases the surgeon informs the patient how they will use their expertise to manipulate or investigate a disease or injury to help improve function. However, in plastic surgery the patient has control over what procedure they will have and what results they would like. The plastic surgeon and the patient work together in tandem to carry out the patient’s aesthetic goals. This is why innovative technologies such as the three dimensional (3D) camera are crucial to any successful plastic surgeon’s practice.
The 3D camera improves patient satisfaction and increases the correlation between the predicted and the actual results; in other words it decreases the differences between the patient’s expectations and the final product. 3D-simulated images offer patients the opportunity to conceptualize the outcome of their procedure as well as clearly define their goals while they discuss a plan with their doctor. Using 3D image technology, doctors and patients are able to communicate about realistic expectations of the procedure, since both parties can view the same image on the screen. This technology has proven to be accurate in terms of portraying a product that closely depicts the final results for most patients and has been shown to increase patient satisfaction1.
3D cameras play a unique role in the field of plastic surgery. For example, in procedures involving the breast the 3D camera not only allows for the patient to simulate the results they desire, but also allows the surgeon to visually assess the overall shape and size of the breast2. The surgeon is able to take quantitative measurements before surgery vastly increasing their preparedness2. This new technology will allow the surgeon to create a finished product based on a 3D image versus working from scratch; sculpting patient’s body to the exact dimensions requested.
The majority of patients who undergo a breast augmentation are worried that the results won’t look natural or that the size won’t be what they had hoped for1. However, these fears are quashed when patients are able to visualize the results using 3D camera technology. In a survey given to 150 patients who had a breast augmentation using the 3D- simulated image, over 85% stated that the 3D simulated image was very accurate in predicting the actual outcome; suggesting that they felt they were able to get their desired result due to their ability to see how the breast would look in 3-D versus the conventional drawn method3. Most notably around 75% of patients said they would only advise their friends to have surgery in a clinic that used the 3D camera technology3. The benefits of the 3D camera are innumerable. This technology removes some of the guessing and uncertainty on both sides of the conversation; patients unclear if their vision is understood, and surgeons unclear if they are understanding the goals of their patient.
The 3D camera gives the surgeon the opportunity to enter the mind of the patient, by being able to see the patient’s vision of their ideal outcome. In fact, in a recent survey many patients who used the 3D image technology stated that they were so satisfied with the results that they would choose the same implant if they could go back in time3. The camera can be used to simulate not only breast augmentations but also rhinoplasty, facelifts, mommy makeover and more. With the 3D camera the patient can experiment using a realistic 3D image that will allow them to make the best decision.
This method of working from a 3D image has been shown not only to be useful to the surgeon and beneficial for patients, but most importantly several research studies have found this technology to be accurate1. The use of the 3D camera allows for an objective evaluation of post-surgical results that was not previously available. Success during breast surgery involves creating symmetric and aesthetically pleasing results; success also stems from the patient’s vision of the results and the lack of complications. 3D technology allows the surgeon and the patient to have a visual agreement of the surgical goals. This technology should be a staple to every plastic surgeon’s office. To get an idea of what your outcomes might be like with a variety of plastic surgery procedures, book your consultation with Dr. John Kim Northwestern Plastic Surgeon today: 312-695-6022 or email
1Galdino, G. M., Nahabedian, M., Chiaramonte, M., Geng, J. Z., Klatsky, S., & Manson, P. (2002). Clinical applications of three-dimensional photography in breast surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 110(1), 58-70.
2Tepper, O. M., Small, K., Rudolph, L., Choi, M., & Karp, N. (2006). Virtual 3-dimensional modeling as a valuable adjunct to aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery. The American Journal of Surgery,192(4), 548-551.
3 Donfrancesco, A., Montemurro, P., & Hedén, P. (2013). Three-dimensional simulated images in breast augmentation surgery: an investigation of patients’ satisfaction and the correlation between prediction and actual outcome. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 132(4), 810-822.