An open, honest dialogue is necessary for plastic surgeons to properly consult with their patients. Historically, surgeons have used drawings or two-dimensional images during these consultations to give patients some idea of the results they can hope to expect. In recent years, three-dimensional computer representations have become standard practice, but even these oftentimes aren't enough to give patients a concrete understanding of what they'll look like following their procedure.
Now, 3-D printing technology is being used by plastic surgeons during the consultation phase. Unlike computerized representations, these fully three-dimensional models give patients a physical blueprint of what they can hope to achieve through surgery. To date, surgeons who have integrated 3-D models into their practices report that these tools help to make plastic surgery more accessible to the patients, while also facilitating a more informed doctor-patient conversation.
Given the benefit that 3-D models can bring to the industry, it should come as no surprise that businesses have emerged in recent years that specialize in this service. For example, through a company MirrorMe3D, patients can get 3-D models of their faces and other body parts to be used as reference material prior to plastic surgery.
Another company based in Ireland, Mcor Technologies, sells 3-D printers directly to surgeons. Using these devices, doctors can create paper-based 3-D models on demand for their patients.
Unfortunately, using 3-D models in a cosmetic surgery setting does come with some downsides. The biggest issue, ironically, is that these models can give patients an unrealistic expectation of their post-surgery results. Even though the models are meant to make the theoretical results more accessible, they also lead to higher patient expectations.
Oftentimes, the models present the best-case scenario of what a patient can hope to achieve through surgery. Sadly, given the complexities and real-world challenges of cosmetic enhancement, surgeons aren't always able to provide those exact same results. This disconnect can lead to patients being disappointed by their procedures.
Additionally, creating the models themselves is sometimes financially prohibitive. For example, MirrorMe3D charges upwards of $400 for a 3-D model, which is an added cost to an already pricey proposition. Similarly, Mcor Technologies' printers can cost physicians in the ballpark of $20,000, and that cost is naturally passed along to the patient in one form or another.
So is 3-D printing good for the plastic surgery industry or bad? In general, both physicians and patients agree that this new technology offers an immense benefit. So we can expect to see its usage becoming more widespread in the years to come.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about plastic surgery, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!