Everything from prosthetic hands and dinosaur fossils to internal organs and even candy have been produced by 3D printers. Now, one man in the U.K. is getting a 3D-printed face after an accident left him disfigured.
The BBC reports that 29-year-old Stephen Power, who is from Wales, was given a set of custom printed implants to repair impact injuries he sustained during a motorcycle accident in 2012. Even though he was wearing a helmet, Power broke both his cheek bones, nose and top jaw and fractured his skull. Surgeons used 3D-printing techniques to create medical-grade titanium implants that contoured to the exact specifications needed to transform Power’s face to close to its original shape.
He is believed to be one of the first trauma patients in the world to receive 3D-printed pieces to repair his fractured skull.
"I think it's incomparable -- the results are in a different league from anything we've done before," Adrian Sugar, a surgeon at Morriston Hospital, Swansea told The BBC. "What this does it allows us to be much more precise. Everybody now is starting to think in this way -- guesswork is not good enough."
After Power’s accident, he was left with a face that was sunken in on one side. A team of surgeons from the hospital used CT scans to create and print a symmetrical 3D model of Power’s skull. They then used cutting guides and plates to match one side of his face to the other.
The procedure took eight hours, according to Discovery News.
”It is totally life changing,” Power said. "I could see the difference straight away the day I woke up from the surgery."
Power said he will no longer have to hide his face behind sunglasses and a hat when he goes out in public.