Over the last several years, 3D printing has revolutionized a number of industries, predominantly related to manufacturing and construction. Increasingly, however, experts in the medical field have started to take note of 3D printing’s potential to help in a wide variety of healthcare settings. In particular, cosmetic surgeons have discovered that 3D printing technology can be invaluable when it comes to consulting with patients and creating guides for reconstructive procedures.
Consulting with patients is a major part of cosmetic surgery. In years past, plastic surgeons relied on two- and three-dimensional renderings on a computer screen in order to give patients an idea of what to expect following their procedures. Thanks to 3D printing, however, the consultation process has become much more dynamic and accurate. Using this technology, cosmetic surgeons can create on-demand physical representations of their patients’ features. Following a simple scan, surgeons can manipulate attributes inside of a 3D model on the computer and then print out “before” and “after” renderings, giving patients a concrete understanding of the results that they can expect from surgery.
In addition to enhancing the consulting process, 3D printing technology can also help with creating guides for reconstructive surgery. These guides tend to be much easier to manipulate and far more accurate than trying to sculpt features by hand, and they typically lead to better results. In fact, patients who have undergone reconstructive procedures with the aid of 3D technology routinely report higher levels of satisfaction. Moreover, this technology is helping to make particularly challenging cases easier for cosmetic surgeons.
One such recent case involved a 17-year-old named Jake Reynolds, who suffered severe damage to his face after being struck by a car. As a result of the accident, the right side of Reynolds’ face was crushed, completely destroying the skin, bones and muscles. Thankfully, Reynolds’ doctors had 3D printing technology on hand to help with the reconstruction. In order to create a template for the surgery, the doctors took a scan of the undamaged side of Reynolds’ face, which they then mirrored onto the side that was injured in the accident. Using this technique, the doctors were able to preserve Reynolds’ facial symmetry while reconstructing his face.
While success stories like Jake Reynolds’ are amazing, we’re likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using 3D printing technology in medical settings. As more doctors start to integrate 3D printers into their practices, they’ll start to discover more uses with this versatile technology.
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!