Wouldn’t it be great if you could “preview” your outcome before you committed to surgery? With 3-D imaging, you can! This cutting edge technology allows plastic surgeons to show patients a picture of what they might look like after the procedure. Not only does this deliver higher patient satisfaction, but it also helps ensure that the patient and their surgeon are on the same page.
Communication is critical for an exemplary result, but patients don’t always know how to talk about what they want until they actually see it. Dr. Luis Rios of McAllen, Texas discusses why 3-D imaging has been such a game changer for his patients and his practice.
Why is 3-D Imaging Important?
“I’ve been using 3-D imaging in my office for several years now and it has changed the consultation practice tremendously,” explains Dr. Rios. It has allowed him to deliver a more thorough and better consultation. Why? Because when a patient walks through the door, the first question that he or she asks is: ‘What am I going to look like after I have this surgery?’
A surgeon’s before and after pictures can certainly help to predict an outcome. They show off the surgeon’s technical skill and artistic eye, as well as signifying necessary vast experience. But with 3-D imaging, the surgeon can literally show the patient what the procedure results might look like on their actual face or body.
It begins with a photograph of the treatment area. The machine can then project how, for example, two different breast implants will look on a torso. Since there is a huge difference between looking at a 2-D photo and a 3-D image, this technology really helps patients to understand what their chosen procedure can and can not deliver in terms of their individual anatomy.
A Surgeon’s Experience Matters with 3-D Imaging
A picture does speak a 1,000 words, but the plastic surgeon’s experience working with the 3-D imaging machine is also critical. Yes, the machine will generate a snapshot of what your chosen procedure results may look like on your actual face or body. However, it is up to the surgeon to decide whether or not he or she agrees with the machine’s prediction. Actual experience operating on patients is crucial, as is evaluating your anatomy in person during your consultation. This “hands on” experience allows your surgeon to say whether or not he or she can deliver a better result than the machine, or not as good of a result. “A plastic surgeon’s experience using 3-D imaging is just as important as the image itself,” explains Dr. Rios.
3-D Imaging Removes the Mystery
The other thing that is nice about 3-D imaging is that every surgeon is able to adapt it in a unique way. Dr. Rios has a lot of patients who come to him from Mexico, since his practice is on the border. Because of this, oftentimes he has no access to that patient’s previous operative reports. He has no way of knowing, for instance:
- how big the patient’s implants are
- if the implants are above or below the muscle
- whether the implants are textured or smooth
However, 3-D imaging can take away some of the guess work in these mystery cases. It allows him to manipulate the image to add or subtract volume or move the incision placement in order to give the patient a better idea of where they are going with the procedure.
3-D Imaging is Helpful with All Procedures
Every patient that comes into Dr. Rios’s office gets 3-D imaging, but he’s found it to be particularly helpful with breast and body procedures. Recently, software was developed to use 3-D imaging with breast lift patients. This has significantly enhanced his breast lift practice, “because now I’m actually able to show my patients the results.”
Before breast lift 3-D imaging, patients had certain expectations that were not, perhaps, realistic. This led to unhappy patients, which no surgeon wants. Now with the image, the patient has a better idea of what to expect and can then make a decision as to whether or not a breast lift is right for her. It simplifies things for everyone.
3-D imaging is also extremely useful for facial rejuvenation procedures such as:
- eyelid surgery
3-D Imaging is an Investment in the Patient
When plastic surgeons offer 3-D imaging, they are showing the patient that they are committed to delivering the best possible result. It’s a financial commitment for the surgeon, but it’s one that will ultimately help the practice by ensuring that the patient and the surgeon are on the same page in terms of what can and can not be achieved with the chosen procedure. 3-D imaging helps to deliver higher patient satisfaction, and a happy patient is every surgeon’s goal.