How AI Influences the Plastic Surgery

March 22, 2018
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In general, artificial intelligence (AI) has been revolutionizing medicine for quite some time now, but its greatest effect is visible in techniques and results that are achieved in plastic surgery specifically. First, it is important to note that the term “plastic surgery” does not only refer to cosmetic procedures that are performed by choice – it is a medical field much wider than elective procedures. It also includes surgeries caused by skin cancer, burns, deficiencies of the body, and it is also of great help when it comes to transplants. In short, AI has brought many benefits to the world of plastic surgery, helping people improve their lives and treat serious physical conditions. As a result, in the last decade, aesthetic and reconstructive procedures have increased significantly.

How AI works

AI is able to use a large amount of data and makes sense of it, and not just that – it can make recommendations and predictions much clearer and accurate than doctors. In short, here is where AI beats a real person, that is, a doctor:

– AI detects potential problems sooner

– it gives better diagnoses according to the reported symptoms

– it is very accurate at determining the right course of treatment, as well as at giving more precise predictions on how fast the treatment will work

– it can monitor the progress of the given treatment.

The secret of AI’s excellent recommendations and predictions is in the computer’s ability to identify patterns much better than human beings, which makes it a perfect tool in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Burn care

This is where AI is desperately needed and useful. AI can correctly assess the complete surface of the burnt skin, which the most important thing in order to give a patient the proper treatment. Next, it is able to predict whether the surgery is necessary or the skin will be able to heal on its own. More precisely, a study on reflectance spectrometry and artificial neural networks showed that the AI accuracy was up to 86%, hardly achievable with using just a naked eye.

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Hand transplant

As hands are very complex parts of our body, AI is the perfect tool for designing automated controllers in cases where patients need neuroprostheses. As hands are highly sophisticated, these neuroprostheses have to be highly accurate, and AI devices allow engineers and surgeons to collect valuable data in order to provide patients with better prosthetics.

Help with skin cancer

Skin cancer typically requires mutual work of plastic surgeons and dermatologists. The first thing a dermatologist does when they detect cancerous growth on a patient’s skin is to consult a plastic surgeon about the best approach regarding cutting out the lesion and reconstructing the hole on the skin after the removal of the lesion. In order for a treatment to be successful, it is important to diagnose skin cancer in its early stages – this is where AI comes in handy, as it is able to detect skin cancer much earlier than a dermatologist. Its ability to detect cancer just from photos has come so far that there are even apps on smartphones for checking for cancer. Actually, some studies have shown that AI not only detects cancer more accurately, but it also classifies it in a far more precise way.

Cosmetic surgeries

Maybe elective cosmetic surgeries are not crucial for somebody’s physical well-being, but a Korean study has shown that many patients change their personalities for better, as a result of them feeling better in their own skin and having more self-confidence. In these cases, AI uses a facial image database to give the assessment, and then, according to the patient’s facial ratio, it gives a precise outcome of a specific cosmetic surgery. Even if you consult the best surgeon in the field of cosmetic procedures won’t deny the fact that AI’s assessment can be an enormous help when it comes to providing patients with exactly what they want. Another issue in this type of surgery is that many patients come with unrealistic expectations about the final outcome. Others are afraid that the surgery will make them look very different than before. AI helps the patients to get a clearer picture of what they will really look like if they undergo a certain procedure, so they don’t waste their time and money just to end up deeply unhappy with the result. A sub-type of this type of surgery would be reconstructive surgery, which is about correcting the anatomy, but it has also become increasingly aesthetic recently, like in removing scars or performing maxillofacial surgeries.

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Final comment

Even though AI shows predominance over doctors in some cases thanks to its sophisticated algorithms, an expert’s eye will always be needed in the field of medicine. AI is an excellent tool there, but just a tool nevertheless.