Where does 3-D Imaging fit into the mix?
While most surgeons probably use the 3-D system to help a patient “try on different implants” on a computer, you must realize that to the computer, the breast tissue has endless ability to stretch. In reality, as discussed above, the breast does not. My approach is to first select the implant based upon measurements, and then allow the patient to see what the result would look like for that particular implant. I also tell the patient that the 3-D system is not perfect and that there will be variability between the simulated and actual result. In my experience with the current software version, the actual results tend to look better and are a little fuller than the simulated results. Work is in progress to improve this.
Below are two 3-D image sets. The upper image set compares the preoperative breasts to the computer simulation of the surgical result shown to the patient at her initial consultation.
The lower image set compares the preoperative breasts to the actual surgical result. This is the actual 3-D image of the patient after her surgery was performed. This is to date the closest I have seen the simulation compare to the actual final result. The actual result looks aesthetically better and is a little fuller in volume than the computer simulation. Although the process of simulation is not perfected, my patients still find it useful. As I use a scientifically based system of measurements to guide me in choosing an implant, this 3D system is of little use to me in implant selection; it is really there just for the patient to get a rough idea of how they might look after breast enhancement surgery.