With the development of 3-dimensional technology it has become increasingly possible to record the facial soft tissue changes that occur with growth and following orthodontic treatment. This article describes the use of the optical surface laser scanner to record and quantify the facial soft tissue changes following orthognathic surgery. Ten skeletal Class III patients were laser scanned, at previously determined time intervals, over a 6-month period following orthognathic surgery. Computer superimposition of the scanned images provided a graphic demonstration of the soft tissue changes as they occurred between the time intervals. Analysis of the results demonstrates a nonuniform, asymmetric resolution of facial swelling and adaptation of the soft tissues to the altered skeletal structure. This occurred principally over the initial 4 months following surgery. However, smaller changes continued to occur throughout the study period. This suggests that the facial soft tissues continue to change over a period of greater than 6 months. This knowledge is important as it is integral for obtaining informed consent from patients.
World J Orthod 2006;7:15–26.