Facial fatness as a complicating factor in facial reconstruction

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Although it is a reasonable assumption that a significant proportion of the variation in facial tissue thicknesses comes from anatomical differences between populations, we do not know how much of normal variation is caused by including the full range of individual obesity or slimness. Current population standard soft tissue thickness data used in facial reconstructions ignores the variation between individuals which, in theory, could be greater than the variation between populations or sexes. The aim of this study was to test if facial tissue thickness is due to the amount of sub - cutaneous fat, sex or racial origins. Methods currently used do not give a true reflection of the individual because they ignore the variation in fatness. An initial study determined if a corrective value for the non - linear distortion found between radiographic images and the physical tissues was needed. This was done by imaging cadaver heads and taking measurements from the images and the physical heads. The results demonstrated that measurements taken from LODOX® images are analogous with soft tissue measurements. Volunteers were then sought from the student body and had physical measurements and X - rays taken. The measurements allowed for both BMI and body fat percentage to be calculated. Analysis showed that body fat percentage had less of an impact than BMI, with the areas of the face most affected by change in fatness being around the chin, jaw and cheek. Analysis of the variances showed that fatness has a low impact on the soft tissues of the different ancestry groups, while having a greater impact on the soft tissues of the different sexes. The effect of changing fatness on the soft tissues is not seen in all areas of the face, but to ignore it in facial reconstruction ignores that the success of a reconstruction is not exactness but in its ability to incite recognition and lead to potential identification of the unknown target individual.

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