We have really begun to see the use of 3D printing take off within operating rooms and hospitals in China. From listing and reading all of the media reports, it would appear as though China is ahead of all other nations when it comes to using additive manufacturing to aid in surgeries. Whether this is actually the case or if it is just the fact that the Chinese media loves to publicize such procedures, while doctors in the US must adhere to strict medical privacy rules such as HIPAA, we don’t know. Fact is though, 3D printing is becoming more and more common in hospitals all around the world.
While it’s become quite apparent that various additive manufacturing techniques have helped lead a new frontier in the health and medical industries, it appears that China has been among those who are most interested in utilizing 3D printing into various medical applications. In 2015 alone, we’ve seen how Chinese doctors have used 3D printing to create everything from a new 3D printed shoulder for a 27-year-old patient to a model of a 60-year-old woman’s kidney to study prior to a tumor removal surgery. Now, Chinese doctors can add one more type of surgery to the growing list of surgeries that have been performed with the aid of 3D printing: craniofacial surgery or otherwise known as chin surgery.
The patient, Ms. Lin from Taichung, Taiwan, decided on the eve of her 26th birthday that she wanted to undergo surgery to help create what she thought was the perfect chin. Unfortunately, Ms. Lin was born with a chin that was too small for her face and had tried many other methods throughout her lifetime to try and correct it including the application of hyaluronic acid – all of which didn’t work.
Prior to her birthday, Ms. Lin had contacted Dr. Liu Jiawei of Beauty Center of China Medical University about the possibility of using plastic surgery to fix her chin. The surgery – which was the most expensive option of them all – was to be a birthday gift for herself for her 26th birthday. After meeting with Dr. Liu Jiawei, Ms. Lin learned that if the surgery was performed using traditional surgical practices, there wouldn’t be any guarantee that the surgery would work. However, with the help of 3D printing, it would be much easier for the doctor’s to perform a surgery with more lasting results … albeit it would be more expensive.
With the help of 3D printing technology, Ms. Lin’s recent chin surgery was a complete success. Thanks to 3D printed assistance, Dr. Jiawei was able to push her jawbone forward by 0.5 com and down by 1.2, in an effort to create a more natural extension and a more ideal ratio between the woman’s lips, chin and nose. Since the surgery, the ratio between Ms. Lin’s nose and lips, as well as between the length of her lips and chin, are now a 1:1.
such a surgery isn’t cheap, and 3D printing itself makes it even more expensive. Making plastic chin alone cost her 100,000 TWD (around 3,266 USD), while 3D printing technology adds somewhere from ten to twenty percent to the total price. But of course the reduced risks are a very pleasant result. Dr. Liu Jiawei further emphasized that the advantages of 3D printing are constantly being developed and could be more extensively applied to the field of plastic surgery in the near future. He expects that all the surgeries related to forehead, chin, square faces and other related operations are set to benefit from this new technology.