Plastic Surgeon Says 3D Morphing Software Not Helpful Before Surgery

Many plastic and cosmetic surgeons now offer 3D computer imaging services where a patient can see their ‘before and after’ pictures before going under the knife. Today’s innovative software programs can capture the patient’s silhouette and measurements, and create a realistic-looking ‘after’ photo based on the type of surgery they wish to undertake. However, some plastic surgeons believe that 3D morphing software really is not effective.

According to Los Angeles plastic surgeon Steven Teitelbaum, MD, “Patients frequently have anxiety about implant sizing. Will they look too big, too small, or just right? Portrait 3D [visualization software and equipment] answers these questions by simulating an approximate result on the patient's own body. This eliminates a major obstacle for the many patients who can't decide whether or not to schedule surgery.” (Source:

In some cases, the 3D modeling software simply sets unrealistic expectations for the procedure. Many doctors spend time explaining what can be expected from the surgery during the consultation with the patient, but also emphasize that there are no guarantees. When patients bring in pictures of celebrities or other people they want to look like, it’s up to the doctor to explain what can realistically be achieved with liposuction, breast implants and other surgeries based on the patient’s natural genetic makeup and features.

3D morphing software does help the surgeon perform a ‘digital nip tuck’ so the patient can see their new size and silhouette, but again, there is no guarantee that the surgeon will be able to achieve the same results. The healing process is different for everyone, and in some cases, the patient will need to undergo additional surgery or procedures such a skin tightening treatments in order to achieve their ‘ideal’ figure.

Digital images can only provide an estimate on what the outcome will be. It is still up to the doctor to educate the patient about potential results, and build trust with the patient so that the patient understands results may be slightly different than the 3D model.

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