Quantitative analysis of facial reconstructive surgery : facial morphology and expression



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The face is an integral part of one’s self-concept and unquestionably the most important attribute used to distinguish one's identity. A growing body of literature demonstrates that any condition that results in facial disfigurement can have a profound adverse impact on one's psychological and social functioning. In this respect, patients with facial disfigurements are at higher risk to experience psychosocial difficulties than others.

Owing to injuries or illnesses such as cancer, patients undergo reconstructive surgeries both to recover their facial function and to reduce the adverse impact of facial disfigurements on their psychosocial functioning. However, since surgical planning and evaluation of reconstructive outcomes still relies heavily on surgeons' qualitative assessments, it is challenging to measure surgery outcomes and, therefore, difficult to improve surgical practice.

Thus, this dissertation research aims to help patients suffering from facial disfigurement by developing quantitative measures that are 1) related to human perception of faces, and 2) that account for patient's internal status (i.e., psychosocial functioning). Such measures can be used to improve surgical practice and assist patients with disfigurement to be psychosocially adjusted. Specifically, this dissertation proposes quantitative measures of facial morphology and expression that are closely related to overall facial attractiveness and a patient's psychosocial functioning. Such measures will allow surgeons to quantitatively plan and evaluate reconstructive surgeries. In addition, this dissertation introduces a modeling technique to simulate disfigurement on novel faces with control on the type, location, and severity of disfigurement. This modeling technique is important since it can help patients with facial disfigurement gain a more accurate understanding of how they are viewed in society, which has a strong potential to facilitate their psychosocial adjustment.

This dissertation provides a new perspective on how to help patients with facial disfigurement address challenging problems in facial reconstruction, aesthetic understanding, and psychosocial actualization. It is hoped that this work has shown that multiple benefits could be realized from future studies utilizing the modeling technique to understand human perception of facial disfigurement and thereby to develop quantitative measures that are closely associated with human perception.