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Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing medicine in general, and plastic surgery in particular. While most people think of elective cosmetic procedures when they hear the words “plastic surgery,” the field is far more than that. AI allows surgeons to more accurately determine the rate of burn healing and depth, design neural networks for hand and other transplants and aid skull reshaping in babies born with craniofacial deformities. It appears AI is better at detecting skin cancer – which often requires subsequent plastic surgery – than dermatologists. It’s a brave new world, and AI will help patients suffering from serious conditions receive better outcomes.
While not its primary focus at this time, AI can also help surgeons and patients with cosmetic surgery procedures. AI relies on a huge facial image database to determine a basic beauty assessment. Combined with measurements of a patient’s facial ratio, these assessments can help the surgeon and client make a well-informed decision about the surgery target. The real-time simulations let clients know exactly how they will look post-surgery.
Another benefit – AI can inform patients whether a procedure they seek will really make much difference in their appearance. Many plastic surgery clients have unrealistic expectations of what aesthetic procedures can do for them. No one wants to go through an expensive operation with significant downtime to discover they don’t look that different than they did before.
AI allows doctors to access large amounts of clinical data on a patient prior to the first consultation. In addition to medical data, the doctor will have access to the patient’s lifestyle data, as shared on social media.
So, will AI eventually replace the human eye when it comes to plastic surgery? Of course not. Although its sophisticated algorithms offer much to the plastic surgery industry, clients and providers, a trained human eye is always needed. AI is very good at detecting the beauty standards it is fed, but only the surgeon and patient can decide whether they want to make that standard a reality. Instead, AI serves as a strong complement to the human eye, and can certainly give surgeons information they can’t readily perceive themselves. That however, has more to do with hair and skin type and texture and exact coloration. The bottom line: Over time, AI will help us heal faster and look more attractive. It’s a wonderful tool for plastic surgery.