Rhinoplasty is among the top 5 popular cosmetic surgeries in the United States and in Australia, with more that 200,000 procedures performed in 2014 in each country. During a rhinoplasty procedure, a plastic surgeon sculpts the bone and the cartilage of the nose to achieve the patient’s desired shape. While rhinoplasty is often used as a reconstructive procedure, it is also effective for any woman or man who is unhappy with the shape of their nose or is having some issues breathing.
Present day rhinoplasty offers a safe, effective and time-tested cosmetic solution. When performed by a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon, rhinoplasty can greatly enhance the balance of a person’s face and help patients improve their confidence.
Communication Is Key
Before undergoing a rhinoplasty procedure, communication between the patient and the surgeon is very important, specifically when it comes to cosmetic goals. While most patients have a clear idea of the look they are after, accurately conveying the idea to the plastic surgeon can be a big challenge. Since most patients choose to decide their own cosmetic goals, an accurate and effective communication tool is very important. Most surgeons will faithfully execute the desired cosmetic changes as long as they have been properly understood. Honoring a patient’s cosmetic wishes is one of the most important obligations of a plastic surgeon, and so the surgeon should set realistic expectations with the patient. There are cases when a patient’s cosmetic goal will not fit the right criteria of getting a fully functional nose. Other patients may also be clueless as to what changes would look best. There are also cases when patients may change their mind once they actually see their new nose. To ensure the patient is happy with the result, a means of previewing the changes will help.
High-definition Nasal 3D Imaging
Before the introduction and use of digital photography and imaging software, most rhinoplasty patients were forced to trust their surgeon with little concept of their intended goal. Then, computer advancements like computer imaging were introduced. Now, patients have a way to evaluate the possible changes and choose their preferred nasal contours. The use of computer imaging has enhanced communication between surgeon and patient, and when used to its potential, computer imaging can also enhance the accuracy of rhinoplasty procedures.
A new study found that computer imaging prior to surgery gives patients a good idea of how they will look after rhinoplasty and the majority of these patients valued the preview process. The software that has the ability to morph facial features improved doctor-patient communication. According to Dr. Andrew Frankel, senior study author and plastic surgeon at the Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills, California, “having a clear image of the patient in front of you and being able to manipulate the nose on the screen is much better than showing a patient 20 pictures of other patients’ noses”. The study also showed that patients who thought their projected computer image was accurate tended to be more satisfied and happier about the results. Before computer imaging, patients tended to bring pictures of celebrities as reference. Although it seems promising, it was often impossible to replicate these noses on another person. Plastic surgeons can break the nasal bone, reshape, shave nasal cartilage or place grafts, but the surgeon is still limited by the basic structure of the nose. You have to remember that every nose is unique and patients should have realistic expectations.
Based on the study, Dr. Frankel and his research team sent 38 rhinoplasty photos (including before, computer image and after) to a panel of plastic surgeons. The research team asked the plastic surgeons to rate how close the computer image and the post-surgery photo of the real nose matched. Using a 5 point scale for scoring, the surgeons ranked the mean overall accuracy of the computer image at 2.98. Meaning that the surgeons considered the computer image as “moderately accurate”.
The research team also asked patients if they were happy or satisfied with their new nose. Out of the 11 that responded, 81% rated their satisfaction 4/5. They rated the image 3.4/5. The satisfied patients also considered their image more accurate as compared to patients who were less satisfied with their results.
Rhinoplasty 3D Imaging Planning
3D computer imaging helps in bringing additional depth to the understanding of the proportions between the nose of the patient and the rest of their face. There are several steps to consider before the doctor and the patient agree to the desired result.
1. Shape Assessment
Questions that are hard to answer using standard photos – like the ideal width of the nose tip, the nose bridge and the nose’s projection – will be clearer in 3D. The projection, height and width of the tip and bridge will be assessed and the facial asymmetries will be studied using computer imaging.
Understanding and actually checking the shape of the nostrils from the front and the three quarter view will be easier.
3. Nasal Tip
Standard photos cannot project how changes to the nasal tip will balance and integrate with the shape of the bridge and the nostrils. By using 3D imaging, gradual reshaping and different angle views can help. It will also be easier to understand how much rotation or projection is needed to achieve the desired shape of the nose.
4. The Nose Bridge
One difficult thing to see in a standard photograph is how the nose bridge meets the cheeks because they are always asymmetrical. By using a 3D image, it will be easier to rotate the image around and understand how much widening or narrowing of the bridge is needed to achieve a balanced appearance.
5. Nostrils And The Alar Base
Possible changes in the shape and width of the nostril base can be difficult to evaluate using standard photographs. By using 3D computer imaging, the image can be turned around and morphed, making it so much easier to evaluate.
6. Nose Size
A 3D image can give the correct measurements of the changes. The measurements are then used to verify the degree of adjustments needed to the size and shape of the nose corresponding to the projected plan.
Computer imaging is a very effective communication tool that allows patients to visually confirm the changes they would like to have, while providing the plastic surgeon with a concrete plan for the surgery. Today, most surgeons cannot envision performing rhinoplasty without the advantages of computer imaging technology.