Visual Attention to Facial Defects Predicts Willingness to Pay for Reconstructive Surgery

John F. Ryan, Lisa E. Ishii, Jacob K. Dey, Kofi D.O. Boahene, Patrick J. Byrne, Masaru Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The relationship between the value of reconstructive surgery and the visual attention drawn by facial deformity has not been studied. Objectives: We hypothesized that willingness to pay (WTP) for reconstructive surgery would increase as visual attention to deformity increased in a Mohs defect eye-tracking model. Methods: We conducted a randomized observational study. Eighty casual observers participated in timed eye-tracking trials utilizing preoperative and postoperative photographs from 32 patients with facial Mohs defects. Fixation on each defect was quantified in milliseconds. For each photograph, casual observers reported how much they would be willing to pay for a perfect reconstruction and rated defect severity and patient attractiveness. The associations between defect fixation time and WTP, attractiveness, and severity were modeled using a multivariate mixed-effects model. Results: Increased defect fixation time was associated with increased WTP (regression coefficient = 0.332651, p < 0.001), decreased attractiveness (regression coefficient = -0.221779, p < 0.001), and increased severity (regression coefficient = 0.363111, p < 0.001). As defect fixation time increased, WTP increased exponentially. Conclusions: Observer WTP for facial reconstruction increases exponentially as defects become more distracting. These findings justify the dedication of health care resources to reconstructive procedures that decrease attentional distraction to the greatest extent possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-442
Number of pages7
JournalFacial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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