Unless you are an unbearable egomaniac or are blind, you have looked in the mirror at some point in your life and been unhappy with something you’ve seen. Usually it’s a detail like a blemish or maybe even just a dissatisfaction with something you perceive as crooked or the wrong size or one of any number of complaints we all have about our appearance on a daily basis. Our faces are the subject of a great deal of scrutiny, both our own and by others, after all they are, in the words of Louis CK, “right in the front of our heads.”
Sometimes, and more often if you live in LA, there are people who feel such a great dissatisfaction with their faces that they resort to elective cosmetic surgery to make modifications. That’s not the only kind of client that plastic surgeons see, however. Cosmetic surgeons also work to help patients who were born with facial abnormalities or who have experienced a traumatic event leading to the devastation of their faces.
This was the case with 17-year-old Jake Reynolds, who was struck by a car while crossing a street and suffered significant damage to the right side of his face.
The car was traveling about 30 miles per hour when it struck Reynolds, his face was smashed against the windshield and then further damaged when he was thrown to the street. The skin and muscles were stripped from his face right through to his molars and the bones in his cheeks and forehead were destroyed. Luckily for him, he was rushed to John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix where Dr. Pablo Prichard is using 3D printing technology to help with just such formidable facial reconstruction procedures.
Dr. Prichard gave a glimpse of the serious nature of the youth’s case in an interview with ABC:
“This was a devastating injury to his face. He had crush wounds to his forehead, the eyeball socket wasn’t just crushed but pulverized as far as the bone was concerned…By doing it with 3D printing, what we’re doing is taking the mirror image of his opposite side and projecting that on the devastated side. It all looks nice and symmetric, which I’m happy with, his scars are diminishing in appearance.”
Using 3D print technology allows the surgeon to create a guide that is much more faithful to plan than doing it free hand would be. One year and four surgeries later, Jake is as handsome as ever and even though the scar is visible, it’s hardly disfiguring. Given the extent of his injuries, the results of the surgery are nothing short of miraculous.
Rather than replacing the skill of an excellent plastic surgeon, 3D printers are providing another tool that they can use to take the art of what they do to another level in complex cases and that’s quite a relief to people like Jake who were confronted with the possibility of losing something that is so intimately wrapped up in our identities and everyday interactions. Discuss your thoughts on this latest progress in the medical world in the Facial Reconstruction with 3D Printed Guides forum over at 3DPB.com.