Plastic surgeons could use computer images to aid facial reconstructions

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A new photograph-based imaging technique shows promise in helping facial plastic surgeons in performing facial reconstructions. The software can measure the distance between the upper ear and chin, according to a report in the March/April issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/archives journals.

 “The importance of balanced facial proportions has been studied for centuries by architects, artists, physicians and dentists,” the authors wrote in background information. Plastic surgeons must analyze the face before surgery so that afterward prominent facial features are balanced in relation to the structures around them. “Even a well-executed surgery will result in a poor aesthetic result if inaccurate analysis leads to an improper decision (e.g., an excessively large chin implant).”

“Surgery for facial disharmony requires artistic judgment and objective evaluation,” the authors conclude. “For surgeons who use computer imaging software, analysis of profile photographs is the most valuable tool. Even when preoperative and postoperative photographs are of different sizes, relative distance comparisons are possible with a new calibration technique using the constant facial landmarks, the porion and the pupil. The porion-pogonion distance is a simple reproducible measurement that can be used along with established soft tissue measurements as a guide for profile facial analysis.”