Rationale, aims and objectives
Scarring is a significant cause of dissatisfaction for women who undergo breast surgery. Scar tissue may be clinically distinguished from normal skin by aberrant color, rough surface texture, increased thickness (hypertrophy), and firmness. Colorimeters or spectrophotometers can be used to quantitatively assess scar color, but they require direct patient interaction and can cost thousands of dollars By comparison, digital photography is already in widespread use to document clinical outcomes and requires less patient interaction. Thus, assessment of scar coloration by digital photography is an attractive alternative. The goal of this study was to compare color measurements obtained by digital photography and colorimetry.
Agreement between photographic and colorimetric measurements of color were evaluated. Experimental conditions were controlled by performing measurements on artificial scars created by a makeup artist. The colorimetric measurements of the artificial scars were compared to those reported in the literature for real scars in order to confirm the validity of this approach. We assessed the agreement between the colorimetric and photographic measurements of color using a hypothesis test for equivalence, the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), and the Bland-Altman method.
Overall, good agreement was obtained for three parameters (L*a*b*) measured by colorimetry and photography from the results of three statistical analyses.
Color measurements obtained by digital photography were equivalent to those obtained using colorimetry. Thus, digital photography is a reliable, cost-effective measurement method of skin color and should be further investigated for quantitative analysis of surgical outcomes.