3D Printing Allows for Unprecedented Accuracy in Facial Reconstructive Surgery


3D printing technology has helped to reconstruct the facial injuries that a 29-year-old motorcycle accident victim sustained.

Stephen Power, from Cardiff, Wales, is possibly the first trauma patient to have 3D printing used at every stage during surgery, in which a reconstructive procedure was used to restore facial features.

In a motorcycle accident in 2012, Power suffered severe injuries that included breaking both of his arms, his right leg, as well as severe eye socket, cheek, and upper jaw injuries.

The accident left him in the hospital for four months.

“I can’t remember the accident – I remember five minutes before and then waking up in the hospital a few months later,” Power said.

Thanks to 3D printing technology, though, Power was able to undergo an eight-hour operation that allowed doctors to rebuild his face.

The surgical team used scanned 3D images of his face to design guides to cut and position bones, as well as titanium implants. 3D printing allowed for unprecedented accuracy in the surgery.

“It was a three dimensional exercise,” said consultant maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar. “We had virtual and physical model planning for each stage of the operation. It made sense to plan it in three dimensions and that is why 3D printing came in – and successive 3D printing, as at every different stage we had a model.”

“Without this technology, you have to guess where everything goes. With 3D printing, we are far more precise.”

Power’s new face is a testament to the amazing things that 3D printing technology is capable of when combined with modern medical technology.

“I won’t have to hide my face away and my confidence will be back,” said Power. “I’ll be able to do everyday things – go and see people, walk in the streets, just go to any public areas.”