Having plastic surgery of any kind is a major decision, but knowing how you’ll look in advance of going under the knife can help dispel some of the anxiety. Surgeons have been using imaging software for some time to help patients visualise the results of prospective work. But researchers from Belgium have developed software they say can help surgeons deliver even better results, while increasing the interaction with their patients.
At the Meaningful Interactions Lab (mintlab), a research group of the University of Leuven (Belgium) and research institute IMEC, they’ve collaborated with a consortium of research partners and companies to develop a 3D tool to accurately simulate the outcome of nose surgery. The tool uses a combination of facial modelling statistics with morphing algorithms. The ‘average nose‘ is used as a baseline, computed based on the characteristics of a couple of hundreds of faces in their database.
The new algorithm delivers more realistic results for rhinoplasty, commonly called a nose job. First, a 3D model is built using off-the-shelf components. Once imported into their software, it creates the most appropriate looking nose, using hundreds of previously scanned faces as a baseline.
“We combined this with an algorithm that was based on faces that were scanned – a lot of faces were scanned – so that the algorithm could calculate what a realistic nose could look like. So in Photoshop you could very easily make like a Pinocchio nose and that’s really unrealistic, but with this software we’ve managed to keep the boundaries to what’s really realistic“, says Arne Jansen, resarcher at the Mintlab.
The computer-created nose can still be adjusted to the patient’s liking. The team says it also has important applications for designing prosthetic replacements for patients whose noses have been amputated, often due to cancer. It uses facial characteristics to ‘predict‘ a perfectly fitting whole new nose – even though there is no existing nasal structure to base it on. Key landmarks on the face are pinpointed; such as cheekbones, tip of the nose and corners of the eyes to help it design a well-suited nose. “And the software can look at the same characteristics of the face and use that to calculate a nose that is fitting for this particular face. And so what the software won’t do is make a general nose; make on nose for all – it will make a characteristic nose that you can still alter towards the needs of the patients“, he adds.