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Is virtual reality cosmetic surgery a gimmick?

Harper's Bazaar (UK) logo Harper's Bazaar (UK) 08/11/2017 Bridget March

Is virtual reality cosmetic surgery a gimmick or game-changer? © Hearst Communications, Inc. All rights reserved Is virtual reality cosmetic surgery a gimmick or game-changer? You’re no doubt familiar with virtual reality (VR), the computer technology using headsets to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that make a user feel as though they are physically experiencing something. Beyond its use for films and games, the evolution of VR for medical imaging has accelerated over the last 25 years and now businesses are starting to use it to guide medical procedures and also cosmetic surgery.

Professor Marcos Sforza, expert aesthetic surgeon and scientific director at MyAesthetics, tells Bazaar that one of the latest technologies is the development of new VR 3D glasses. “These enable patients to see how they would look after different breast surgeries, from augmentations to reductions – without them having to set foot inside an operating theatre.” Useful for those who want to ‘try before they buy’, but could it make the life changing commitment unnecessarily appealing?

How VR works for cosmetic surgery

Professor Sforza explains that the technology works by scanning body parts in 3D with an iPad, “then providing simulation tools to manipulate the 3D model of the client” – aiming to answer that million-dollar question of what you might look like after surgery.

“To show potential results from every considered outcome, ‘before and after’ 3D images can be created from this technology,” he explains, “while viewing simulated enhancements through the glasses”.

Currently it’s used for breast procedures, which Professor Sforza notes includes “breast reductions, breast enlargements and lifts, reconstruction and fat transfer.”

The pros and cons

Professor Sforza tells us that the main idea behind using 3D imaging is to bypass technical language, “such as whether to go for a '270cc' or '300cc' silicone implant,” and unlike more traditional methods “allow the patient to literally see what they think would look good and go from there”. As the technology is interactive, you can ‘try on’ different looks, rotating the image to view it from multiple angles, before scheduling a surgery – which, of course, you can always decide isn’t for you.

He hopes that it will give people more realistic expectations about potential surgeries, “which can help people feel more confident in their final choices”. It does come with the caution, though, that the technology isn’t perfect. “It’s important to note that no matter how accurate a technology is”, Professor Sforza explains, “there is still not a 100% guarantee the images you see will be identical to the final results of your surgery.”

However, he hopes it will minimise the number of scenarios where people may have to consider reversing surgery, such as if someone opted for implants that were too large, or did not look sufficiently natural.

It seems we can, indeed, see into the future and shape it as we wish. Whether you actually want to is another matter.

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Related: Thinking about that Brazilian butt lift? Here's how to choose a real doctor (Provided by Wochit news)

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