Summary: When it comes to predicting your plastic surgery results, surgeons have a wide variety of tools at their disposal. And those tools are improving. The better surgeons are at predicting how you will look after your procedure, the more satisfied patients will be with the final results.
The Tools to Help Predict Your Plastic Surgery Results
It can be difficult to predict exactly what you’re going to look like after plastic surgery. It’s not that surgeons are unable to anticipate how many wrinkles will be eliminated or how smooth your tummy area will be or how many pounds you’ll drop. Rather, the problem lies in the difficulty that comes with visualizing these changes. The human imagination can only do so much, after all, and many patients can find it challenging to imagine what their faces look like once all those wrinkle are gone.
Not that surgeons don’t have tools to help patients in this regard. When it comes to breast augmentation, for example, there are specially made bras (with implants) that can help patients simulate the size and weight of their new breasts. This can also help patients select what size they prefer. However, the system isn’t perfect, mostly because the bra itself adds weight and cannot perfectly mimic the shape of the final product.
Some Imperfect Solutions
When it comes to visualizing your final results, there are several imperfect solutions that, when taken together, may do the trick. Of course, that will all depend on your procedure. Some procedures, such as injectables or Botox or CoolSculpting, simply do not make a dramatic enough impact to warrant spending time looking for a way to “visualize” results. To be sure, the results are worth it—but they will be subtle and natural looking.
For the bigger procedures, surgeons have had many ways of visualizing results for patients. First and foremost are the cliché dotted black lines that surgeons can draw on a patient’s body. These represent not only incisions, but where lines and folds will be after the procedure. Additionally, some surgeons can use Photoshop or other photo editing software to create representations of what a patient may look like after a procedure.
Using 3D Modeling
Most recently, surgeons have turned to a technology known as 3D modeling. Essentially, surgeons are able to take a scan of the patient’s face or body, and then put that “scan” into the computer as a three-dimensional model. Once that model is in there, it can be manipulated to simulate the results of the procedure. The advantage of this approach is that it allows the patient to see results in all three dimensions and from all angles.
This is a significant improvement over, for example, photographs or photo editing options because the results are showcased in a 3D space. You can’t rotate a photo (no matter how manipulated it might be) in three dimensions in order to see how you might look from every angle. It’s important to remember, after all, that the human face (and body) exists in three-dimensions, so photos of any kind are going to be a distortion. This makes 3D models of patients the best way to visualize the projected outcomes—so far.
Even 3D models can only anticipate so much. There are many variables that can become important during a plastic surgery procedure—among them is what happens during recovery. To a certain degree, a surgeon has no control over what happens during your recovery (that’s left up to you in many cases, though your surgeon is certainly there to offer guidance). Something happening during your recovery period could drastically change the way that your final results look.
That’s why it’s important to follow your surgeon’s recovery instructions as closely as possible. Those instructions are designed to protect your results so that they look as close to what you were anticipating as possible.
The Important Thing is That You Are Happy With Your Results
The one thing that most surgeons want to ensure as much as possible is your satisfaction with your results. It’s important to you and to your surgeon that you are honestly happy with your results. Giving you a good idea of what to expect after surgery (in terms of appearance, weight, feel, etc) is a big part of that. It helps ensure that patients have realistic (and not over-inflated) expectations. Indeed, encouraging patients to have healthy expectations is one of the most important aspects of the consultation process.
And giving patients the ability to forecast what they might look like is also incredibly important in that process. New tools are constantly coming out to give patients a better idea of what they might look like, visualizing the end results with more accuracy. That’s certainly a good thing for everyone.