A man whose face was crushed in a motorcycle accident now has titanium cheekbones made on a 3D printer.
Stephen Power, a 29-year-old dad from Cardiff, Wales, broke his cheek bones, eye sockets, upper jaw and skull in the 2012 crash, according to a statement from the National Health Service of Wales. He had emergency surgery to save his life, but doctors were unable to reconstruct the left side of his face at the time.
“He had damaged his left eye and the ophthalmologists did not want us to do anything that might damage his sight further,” Adrian Sugar, a maxillofacial surgeon with the Center for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery, said in a statement. “So the result was that his cheekbone was too far out and his eye was sunk in and dropped.”
Once Power’s left eye had healed, doctors scanned 3D images of his face to design replica bones.
“It made sense to plan it in three dimensions and that is why 3D printing came in,” Sugar said. “The technology allows us to be far more precise and get a better result for the patient.”
The 3D replica bones were made from layers of medical-grade titanium, carefully crafted in the precise shape of Power’s own bones.
“This is really the first time we’ve taken it to this stage, where everything to the very last screws being inserted has been planned and modeled in advance – and worked sweetly,” said Sugar.
Power’s left eye is still slightly raised, but Power said he expects it to “settle over the next few months.”
“He has given us nine out of 10 – a good assessment and one I agree with,” he said. “I’m glad he’s not given us 10 because if he did, we would not have any way of getting better.”
Power said he used to hide his injury with glasses that he didn’t need.
“I won’t have to hide my face away and my confidence will be back,” said Power, who also broke both arms in the crash and needed a bone graft on his mangled right leg. “I’ll be able to do everyday things – go and see people, walk in the streets, just go to any public areas.”
“To be honest I thought they did a good job in the beginning anyway because of how bad my accident was,” he added. “But from this operation I can’t really explain how well it has gone. It has just made me look a lot better. I take my hat off to them.”