There are a growing number of applications where 3D printing is providing a technology solution and there are already examples where some cosmetic medicine rules are being rewritten thanks to new printing techniques.
As you can see here, there are already a number of established surgical procedures available and the list is expected to grow as a result of innovative use of 3D printing.
Making use of 3D printing tools
The potential uses of 3D printing are an exciting prospect to think about and when you apply the thinking to what it might do for plastic surgery.
One example of the incredible array of opportunities for surgeons to apply their skills is the case of a child in China who had a new skull created for her using 3D printing. The surgeon was able to print a perfect skull for the little girl called Han Han, whose brain had swollen to four times its normal size.
The life-saving operation involved removing the original enlarged skull and replacing it with the newly created titanium skull in a procedure which would not have been possible without the use of cutting edge 3D printing technology.
See your future look
Another exciting innovation involving 3D printing is the opportunity to see what your new face will look like after you have had cosmetic surgery.
It is now possible to print a before and after 3D printing of your face so that you can gain a better level of understanding and confidence in what you are intending to have done.
Being able to see your future look before going under the knife has a real benefit to you as a patient, especially if you are feeling nervous about what lies ahead, and it also allows the surgeon to bring the proposed procedure to life and show you what to expect.
The feedback so far on the use of 3D printed models suggest that being able to visualize the surgical outcome is a great help in reducing the level of anxiety that many patients understandably experience when agreeing to cosmetic surgery.
How it works
Bespoke software is required for the printing capabilities and specialist color printers are then used to produce a high-resolution model which the surgeon can then use to show to their patient and answer any questions raised.
What this means is that there is now a technology solution using 3D printing that offers surgeons the ability to practice virtual surgical planning and simulate what they will be able to achieve by bring their proposed work to life in a way that was not possible with just diagrams and words of wisdom.
3D printing is at the forefront of patient-specific healthcare and the options are almost limitless when you see what has already been achieved and where the technology could lead to.
Cosmetic surgery is already enjoying steady growth in popularity and every year tends to signal an increase in the number of procedures. 3D printing technology will almost certainly help to persuade and reassure potential patients that they may benefit from a range of procedures.
Dr Kevin M. Ruhge is a specialist plastic surgeon in relation to face, breast and body aesthetic procedures. He has been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha national honor society and is also a certified member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He has already shared his expert views on a number of online resources.