The rise of different 3D printers, printing materials and techniques has made this technology invaluable to the medical industry. Chances are good that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the strides made in lifesaving surgeries thanks to 3D printing.
However, it’s not just these procedures benefiting. Cosmetic surgeons are also turning to 3D printing to help combat the complexity of certain surgeries – cheek reduction, for instance.
The Use of 3D Printing in Cheek Reduction Surgery
The surgery in question took place in Taiwan, and was headed up by Xie Ming Ji, and assisted by Jiang Hou Ren. He’s no stranger to 3D printing and using it to augment surgical processes, but this procedure marked the first time it had been done with a cheek reduction surgery.
Cheek reduction is a very complex process and requires significant information and preparation to be done correctly. 3D printing makes it safer, simpler and easier for the surgeon and the patient.
First, a full size replica of the patient’s skull has to be printed. This allows the surgeons to accurately determine problem areas, complications and other considerations for the surgery.
During the surgery itself, a small incision has to be made inside the mouth of the patient. Then, a portion of the lower jaw is removed to help streamline the face itself.
The problem is that a single mistake here could leave the patient with partial or full paralysis of the face. 3D printing allows surgeons to accurately map out the patient’s features for precision and safety.
Together, doctors Ming Ji and Hou Ren were able to create a unique printing technique that combines 3D printing with 3D scanning and CT scanning. By combining these different methods, they were able to accurately determine specific requirements for each patient, rather than attempting to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach that might lead to errors and injury.
The doctors have combined their research, surgical experience, findings and actual case studies into a first of its kind guide entitled “3D Printing to Navigate Cheek Reduction Surgery”.
This guide will be shared with the entire global medical community to help other surgeons and patients achieve better results, and experience the zero-error procedures being performed in Taiwan.
This is an important step for 3D printing – it has been used in a very wide range of facial cosmetic surgeries, and the new techniques pioneered in Taiwan promise to offer better results and better safety for patients around the world.