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Wearable Technology Gets Good Ratings from Plastic Surgeons

Plastic surgeons see some clear advantages of using Google Glass in the operating room, reports a survey study in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Despite some identified weaknesses, Google Glass is a unique technology with a promising plastic surgical application in the operating room," according to the new research by Dr. Jeremy C. Sinkin of Georgetown University Hospital and colleagues.

Introduced in 2013, Glass is a hands-free, head-mounted computerized device that can present information to the wearer and enable recording and sharing of photos and video. A recently concluded Google testing program allowed Georgetown plastic surgeons to evaluate Glass for use in the operating room.

After a brief introduction, nine resident and attending plastic surgeons used Glass for various cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures. These users were surveyed about their experience, including comfort level, ease of use, and the quality of images obtained using Glass.

In general, the surgeons gave Glass high ratings for comfort and overall satisfaction. The ability to capture images and video using voice-activated control was rated "good"-average score about three on a five-point scale. Scores for the quality of photos and videos averaged nearly four out of five.

Compared to voice control, the surgeons had more problems capturing pictures or videos using Glass's "wink" feature. They also reported difficulties with reviewing images during surgery.

One-third of surgeons said they found Glass to be distracting. At times, they had to look away from the surgical field or bend the head and neck into awkward positions in order to take pictures.

"The results provide constructive end-user feedback regarding the introduction of this innovative technology into plastic surgery," Dr. Sinkin comments. The researchers note some limitations of their study, especially the small number of surgeons surveyed.

In a previous paper in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Drs. Christopher R. Davis and Lorne K. Rosenfield of Stanford University described the first plastic surgery procedure performed using Glass. In a new editorial, they highlight the many potential advantages of incorporating Glass into surgery-including recording procedures for training and documentation and providing the surgeon with access to the patient's medical records and imaging studies. They write, "Despite its technological infancy, the marriage between Glass and surgeon is a healthy one with great promise."

While Glass is not currently available, it is currently undergoing a "comprehensive redesign," according to Drs. Davis and Rosenfield. They add, "One can expect redesigned frames, more flexible optical hardware, and an updated software platform open to all technology companies."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Wolters Kluwer.

Click here to read "Google Glass in the Operating Room: The Plastic Surgeon's Perspective."

Article: "Google Glass in the Operating Room: The Plastic Surgeon's Perspective." (doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000002307.)

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For more than 70 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair, and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

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