British restaurant manager Eric Moger, aged 60, has received a 3D printed face prosthetic after recovering from cancer that consumed the left side of his face. After doctors discovered an aggressive tennis-ball sized tumor under his facial skin four years ago, Eric underwent emergency surgery that removed almost the entire left side of his face.
To fully remove the tumor surgeons had to cut away his cheek bone, most of his jaw and his eye, which left a large hole where they once were. After suffering several years of embarrassment Andrew Dawood, a dental surgeon and implant specialist, created a 3D printed face for Eric. It has changed his life, allowing him to drink a glass of water for the first time, and giving him the confidence to marry his fiance.
“I was amazed at the way it looks,” said Mr Moger, who lives in Waltham Abbey, Essex, with his fiancee. “When I had it in my hand, it was like looking at myself in my hands. When I first put it up to my face, I couldn’t believe how good it looked.
Dr Dawood has been using 3D printing for a couple of years to help create replicas of patient’s jaw bones that he used in preparation for surgical procedures. A 3D scan was used in conjunction with a CT scan to build up a 3D image of that the prosthetic should look like. The CT scan showed what the bone in his skull looked like so that a titanium “scaffold” could be designed that would be surgically implanted to support the prosthetic.
Computer software was used to create a mirror copy of the right side of Eric’s face and the 3D printed in toughened nylon. This was then used as a mold for a silicone mask that uses magnets to secure to his face, covering the hole. A plastic plate was also created that forms a seal at the top of his mouth that allows him to eat and drink.
Mr Moger is thought to be the first person in the UK to receive a 3D printer face prosthetic of this kind and surely he won’t be the last medical patient to enjoy the benefits of 3D printing. The FDA have already approved a 3D printed skull implant and the technology looks like it’s set to change peoples lives in many different ways.