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Quantifying facial fat

Article-Quantifying facial fat

A new study shows that three-dimensional (3D) stereophotogrammetry helps to quantify facial volume distribution after rejuvenation procedures and, therefore, may be a good tool for assessing facial cosmetic surgery outcomes. Cosmetic surgeons can use the technology in practice or for research to better understand the dynamic changes from facial rejuvenation, as well as to quantify rejuvenation technique longevity, according to the study’s abstract.

“[In this study,] we were trying to sort out whether or not the fat that we’re using for volumization of the face, especially during facial surgeries, can be quantitated, so that we can come up with the most predictable ways of using an extremely variable kind of product, if you will,” says study author Steven R. Cohen, M.D., clinical professor of plastic surgery at University of California San Diego, and in private practice at Faces+, San Diego. 

The Study

Researchers took preoperative and postoperative 3D images of nine patients having facelift procedures combined with fat grafting. The postoperative images were taken a mean 4.8 months after surgery. They registered the images using surgically unaltered facial surface landmarks and used 3D imaging software to create a Colorimetric 3D analysis of postoperative volume changes and constructed quantitative volume measurements. 

Researchers found that the forehead, temples and cheeks are areas of consistent volume increase, whereas, nasolabial folds, marionette basins and submental or chin regions are areas of negative volume change. 

NEXT: The Value


The Value

Having a relatively inexpensive, non-radiologic, simple option for quantitatively assessing outcomes is important for cosmetic surgeons and their patients. Dr. Cohen says that the plastic surgeons at his San Diego practice use 3D photography, with the Vectra system, to take pre and postoperative photos of all facial procedures to quantitate outcomes. 

“You can measure outcomes more objectively than saying, ‘it’s pretty’ or ‘it looks like it survived,” Dr. Cohen says, “But our article focused specifically on the fact that it doesn’t really show accurate fat graft survival, as [much as] it shows the way fat is redistributed by both lifting and filling.”

He says that aesthetic surgery specialties are moving from 2-dimensional photography to 3D images and one day the 3D option will be standard. 

“It’s seems likely in the future we will use not only 3D photos, but also video for documentation and analysis of our patients. “The predictive value of this technology is still not quite there but with evolving technology will be me more objective."

Disclosure: None

Reference: Mailey B, Baker JL, Hosseini A, et al. Evaluation of facial volume changes after rejuvenation surgery using a 3-dimensional camera. Aesthet Surg J. 2016 Apr;36(4):379-87.

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