Pre-operative 3D image simulation does not improve satisfaction with breast augmentation

Advanced imaging techniques have shown great potential in improving diagnosis and treatment of various conditions. But a recent study of patients undergoing breast augmentation surgery showed 3D image simulation did not improve satisfaction post-procedure, though most patients preferred the use of the imaging technique.

The research—led by Bo Overschmidt and Ali A. Qureshi, MD, with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis—was published in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Featuring 100 individuals, the study found no correlation between 3D simulation and patient satisfaction, though the imaging process may help foster communication between provider and patient.

“Patients are likely to use novel technology such as 3D photography with computer simulation if they perceive it to enhance their understanding of their final outcome,” the authors wrote. “These patients may seek out practices specifically offering such technology. Incorporation of simulation into the preoperative consultation, however, did not lead to clinically meaningful changes in patient-reported outcomes.”

Study participants completed questionnaires after breast augmentation. Most reported improvements in cosmetic satisfaction, sexual well-being and psychosocial outcomes. But 3D simulation before a procedure did not impact outcomes. On a scale of 1 to 100, the average patient reported pre-operative satisfaction near 20 and post-operative satisfaction around 85.

Though 3D imaging did not impact overall satisfaction, patients may continue to seek out such processes before undergoing augmentation. The researchers argued that most patients are happy with such procedures, so imaging may help them feel comfortable if it does not impact post-operative assessment.

"Any potential impact of simulation of postoperative patient satisfaction may have been of insufficient magnitude to move the needle on already high scores," the authors wrote.