It is an exciting time to be a craniofacial plastic surgeon.

Advances in digital imaging and computer science have given us an incredible range of tools in planning complex surgeries.

While the success of any procedure will always depend on the skill and artistry of the surgeon, Virtual Surgical Planning® leads to more predictable outcomes and can reduce recovery times for patients undergoing major reconstructive surgery.

Virtual surgical planning is quickly becoming a standard of care for orthognathics and reconstructive maxillofacial surgeries.

Virtual Surgical Planning and Craniofacial Surgery

Craniofacial surgeons perform major structural surgeries that involve both the bones and soft tissue (skin and muscle) in the head and neck area.

These are complex, three-dimensional structures, and just as you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, these days, surgeons use patient- and wound-specific computerized data to accurately plan surgeries that would have been considered too difficult or even impossible just years ago.

It makes sense: the more detailed your data, the more precise your approach. Today, Virtual Surgical Planning® allows us to create a detailed plan for even the most complex surgeries — before we have made the first incision.

Better planning means fewer surprises, fewer complications, and allows us to use minimally-invasive and other advanced techniques that produce a better, more predictable cosmetic result.

A High-Tech Approach

Here in New Orleans, surgeons like Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire are using Virtual Surgical Planning to deliver outstanding cosmetic results to patients who suffer either congenital or acquired structural deficiencies (birth defects or wounds).

In cases where Virtual Surgical Planning will be beneficial, we obtain high-resolution CAT scans in order to create a detailed, patient-specific view of the affected structures.

At its most basic level, Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP®) is about utilizing medical image data to accurately plan surgery in a computer environment and then transferring that virtual plan to the patient using customized instruments.

This gives the surgeon precise measurements and other detailed information about the various structures that lie beneath the skin. Improvements in computer software, meanwhile, allow surgeons to manipulate these images in three-dimensions, so that we know exactly what we will encounter before each surgery:

That means no surprises, which leads to fewer complications in achieving a more predictable result.

More Predictable Surgical Results

Virtual Surgical Planning® has opened new vistas in craniofacial surgery, in part because it allows us to fabricate patient-specific instruments and implants, including specially-designed plates to stabilize repairs to craniofacial structures.

Click here to read more about patient specific implants.

These patient-specific instruments act as guides for your surgeon, and they allow us to consider dramatic reconstructions that we wouldn’t have dared attempt in years past using advanced techniques such as microsurgical “free flap transfer” of healthy skin and bone to repair deficiencies in the jaw and midface.

Click here to read more about microsurgery.

Applications of Virtual Surgical Planning

Here in New Orleans, we have used Virtual Surgical Planning® in order to improve cosmetic outcomes in surgeries related to:

  • Oribital dystopia as a result of facial fracture.
  • Maxillary and mandibular osteotomies.
  • Orthognathic surgeries.
  • Cranial vault remodeling.
  • Distraction osteogenesis.
  • Malunion of facial fractures.
  • Composite craniofacial reconstructions as a result of radioosteonecrosis.
  • Correction of hypertelorism.