Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Nip and tuck 3D preview lets you pick the best nose

Tauranga plastic surgeon Adam Bialostocki is trialling ground-breaking technology which uses 3D imaging to digitally map patients' bodies. Photo / Alan Gibson
Tauranga plastic surgeon Adam Bialostocki is trialling ground-breaking technology which uses 3D imaging to digitally map patients' bodies. Photo / Alan Gibson

Remarkable 3D technology has made nipping and tucking a finer art, allowing patients to digitally tailor chiselled chins and bigger breasts before they go near the knife.

A United States-developed simulator being trialled in New Zealand for the first time is predicted to change the face of plastic and reconstructive surgery in the space of a few years.

The Vectra 3D high-definition camera captures images of patients from six angles to create a three-dimensional portrait. Patients then use a computer to modify their virtual bodies - flattening the ridge of their noses, tucking stomachs and boosting bust sizes.

Once finished, they can slip their new figures into digital bikinis and slim-fitting clothing.

"When I first saw it, I just thought, 'Wow, this is a game changer'," said surgeon Adam Bialostocki, whose Tauranga clinic, Bay Plastic Surgery, is piloting the technology for six months.

"It makes it so easy to visualise what they are going to end up with. If they're worried about whether their chest will look too big or too small after surgery, this will alleviate those concerns."

For Mr Bialostocki, who trained using slide film, working out what patients wanted had previously been restricted to sketches, diagrams or pictures of other people.

"Now we can use their own picture, and they can stand back and say, 'No, a little bit more here, a little less there,' and show me what they've really got on their mind."

He said the biggest fear women had when considering breast implants was whether their new bust would appear unnatural.

"When women start talking about 300g implants or 250g implants, their worries are what size would be overkill for their chest, and can they afford to go bigger.

"But they can now see if they could go for a walk down the beach and people necessarily wouldn't know they'd had something done."

For rhinoplasty patients, the technology meant the difference in understanding whether a bothersome bump on their nose was more a question of width.

While the software went beyond the realistic reaches of surgery, it had made expectations much more precise, Mr Bialostocki said.

"The measurements this thing will spit out are to a decimal place or two ... You can never promise that kind of accuracy but you can get a much better idea of what they want."

- NZ Herald

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