In what is believed to be the first surgical procedure of its kind in Britain, doctors have used a pioneering three-dimensional printing technology to create a prosthetic face for a man who had lost almost the entire left side of his face, including his eye, cheek bone and most of his jaw after suffering from an aggressive form of cancer.
Eric Moger (60), a restaurant manager, said the surgery had transformed his life and he was “amazed” how he looked now. He was now able to drink water and eat food like a normal person. Until now, he was fed and given water through a tube.
“Before I used to have to hold my hand up to my jaw to keep my face still so I could talk properly and I would have liquid running out the side of my face if I tried to drink. When I had that first glass of water wearing the prosthetic face, nothing came out — it was amazing,” he said.
“By creating scans of what was left of his skull and using computers to recreate what his face would look like, they were able to use a new type of printer that builds up layer upon layer of nylon plastic to produce the exact components they would need,” The Telegraph reported.
Dr. Andrew Dawood, a dental surgeon, who carried out the procedure said: “We put the CT scan and facial scan together and used software to plan what we wanted him to look like.”
Three dimensional printers, which were first developed to help produce prototype components, have been rarely used for medical surgery.
Mr. Moger said that it was four years ago that doctors found an aggressive tumour the size of a tennis ball growing under the skin of his face. During an emergency surgery to remove the tumour, he lost nearly all his facial features leaving a “gaping hole” where the left side of his face had been.
Attempts to use plastic surgery to rebuild the face failed because of the chemotherapy and radiotherapy he was receiving.