2D or 3D Imaging?

Recent opinions of board-certified plastic surgeons

“After using AlterImage for aesthetic surgery simulation for years, I spent 6 months using a 3D imaging system from an established medical imaging company. I found this very expensive 3D system ($40-60k) hard to use and I was disappointed that the 3D simulations often poorly predicted surgical outcome. And the complex 3D system definitely slows you down. First, you have to move patients to a different room to use the large imaging equipment, then you have longer image setup and acquisition times, and the complex 3D software takes longer to use. --- So I am back using AlterImage which is much easier, faster, more intuitive, and a whole lot less expensive. And in my experience with many patients, I find that the kind of 2D imaging that AlterImage provides is equally effective as 3D in satisfying a patient’s desire to visualize the possibilities of aesthetic surgery.”  - Dr. Ralph F. Cozart, MD, Myrtle Beach, SC, USA


"AlterImage has been very useful to me over the years. And after recently considering the purchase of a $40k 3D morphing system from a major medical imaging company, I believe that AlterImage better meets both my needs and my patients’ needs." – Dr. Anthony Lockwood, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

"I spend so much time working with 3D imaging that I find myself going back to the AlterImage 2D imaging which is much faster. I believe there is a place for both 2D and 3D imaging." - Dr. Alan Evans, Sydney, Australia


AlterImage makes the finest 2D aesthetic simulation ("morphing") available. But if you find it difficult to decide between AlterImage’s 2D imaging or the 3D imaging offered by other vendors, here are some things to consider:


 Advantages of 3D imaging may include:

·        The ability to visualize the effect of specific implant sizes (see user comment above).

·        The ability to calculate an implant size to match a simulation.

·        The ability to obtain measurements in 3 dimensions.


 Advantages of 2D imaging:

·        2D imaging is much simpler, faster, and easier than 3D imaging.

·        2D simulation is far easier and much more flexible than 3D imaging. With 2D simulation, you can make any kind of simulation you want. With 3D simulation, you are limited to the domain-specific tools that come with the 3D software.

·        2D imaging requires no dedicated staging space. Many AlterImage users take a digital image of the patient right in the consultation room.

·        2D imaging is much less expensive, anywhere from about 1/10th the price to 1/100th the price of 3D imaging.

·        2D medical imaging can be done with any kind of digital camera. But 3D medical imaging requires the use of a sophisticated dual-camera setup or a separate pattern projection system. Inexpensive single-camera 3D is too inaccurate for medical use.


In summary, for most aesthetic physicians, 2D imaging will meet your needs for cosmetic surgery simulation in the most cost-effective way. We expect that in the future, aesthetic surgeons will continue to use 2D imaging for the majority of their patients but some plastic surgeons may also use 3D imaging for special cases.

(2D means “2 dimensional” and 3D means “3 dimensional”. A conventional digital camera produces 2D images.)