Purpose of review
Facial plastic surgeons have always relied on photography for preoperative and postoperative analysis, medicolegal documentation, and communication. The current standards for analysis and documentation of facial structures have been determined by obtaining measurements and parameters from two-dimensional photographs or radiographs. However, the face and neck are three-dimensional structures and require manipulation in three planes within the constraints of esthetics, stability, and function. Recent advances in technology have made three-dimensional imaging and analysis possible.
The ability to capture images in three dimensions has opened up new avenues for observation and has increased the ability to analyze changes after surgery. Whereas only linear distances, angles, and areas can be determined by use of two-dimensional images, soft tissue volumetric data and surface topography can also be measured accurately; this can be helpful in validating changes in patients undergoing aging facial or orthognathic procedures. Recent studies have focused on descriptions of imaging techniques, validation of measurements, and the creation of normative data and its applications in surgery.
The availability of three-dimensional imaging and software systems presents new opportunities for the facial cosmetic surgeon to plan, execute, and assess the outcomes in patients undergoing surgery of the face and neck.