3D Custom Facial Implants

Q: Dr. Eppley, would such 3D custom facial implants still have a risk of asymmetry after they are inserted? I have been told that as the implant is printed to perfectly mold to every crevice and shape of your own bone, there would be no need for fixation.

A:It does not matter how any 3D custom facial implants are made or their material, they all have risks of asymmetry as they still have to be surgically placed through limited access incisions. Such surgery is not like Lego Blocks or mounting the implants on a skeletal model, they don’t just snap into place. It is far harder to do than it looks due to the presence and importance of the overlying soft tissues and the limited visualization to the bone sites that the surgeon has. A 3D design process makes it look ‘easy’ because you are just looking at the bone model but that has little to do with actually doing the surgery to place them.

And, quite frankly, whomever made the statement that they don’t need fixation because they are perfectly made to the shape of the underlying bone has either never done such surgery or has very limited experience as that is simply not true.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana