The effects of computer simulated facial plastic surgery on social perception by others

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Previous studies have demonstrated the remarkable impact of facial plastic surgery on the perception of facial features. However, pre- and postoperative differences other than the surgically changed features such as facial expression, hairstyle, make-up etc., have influenced the results of previous studies. To exclude these visual cues a computer composite photograph of the changed feature mounted upon the preoperative photograph, instead of the standard postoperative photograph, was presented to observers in this study. Computer graphic technology was used to superimpose the postoperative, surgically changed facial features such as the nose, ear and chin of 16 patients on standardized preoperative photographs. The randomized preoperative photographs and the 'postoperative' composed images were presented to 67 subjects, using a person-perception questionnaire. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a more favourable postoperative judgement in only two patients (12.5%). The exclusive effect of facial plastic surgery on the social perception of patients by others when excluding visual cues, such as facial expression, hairstyle, make-up etc, is limited. It is tentatively assumed that the role played by facial plastic surgery is one of initiating a positive cycle by changing the patient's self-perception rather than one of direct social impact from the changed features.

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