How Is A Custom Jaw Implant Made?

Q:  I read an article on jaw implants in which you wrote “In some cases, no available off-the-shelf chin or jaw angle implant can create the desired effect due to a patient’s unique anatomy or aesthetic needs. In this situation, a customized ‘wrap-around’ jawline implant can be made from a 3-D CT scan of the patient. These can be made as a single implant or in multiple units that can be inserted in pieces and assembled when next to the bone. This approach is particularly useful when the jawline needs to be vertically lengthened. (implant sitting on the bottom edge of the bone)” Can you go into detail about the process of the custom mandibular implant with the 3-D CT scan? And from that how that fits into someone who travels for the surgery?

A: While standard chin and jaw implants will work most of the time, there are some patients whose jaw problem is beyond conventional implant designs. There are also patients who have been successfully implanted but do not like the aesthetic outcome that has resulted. These ‘implant-deficient’ patients have either vertical jawline deficiency, extreme chin deformities or the desire to have a more exaggerated jaw angle prominence. In these cases, only a custom jaw implant will suffice.

The process of making a custom jaw implant begins with the patient getting a 3-D CT scan at a local hospital or x-ray facility. That 3-D mandibular data is then sent to a custom model manufacturer. (I use Medical Modeling, Golden, CO) That model is then sent to me where I will hand carve out of wax or acrylic the desired implant(s) shape. Once approved by the patient, it is then sent to an implant manufacturer who will manufacture and sterilize the final implant(s). It will then be shipped to me for surgical implantation. This entire process takes about 4 to 6 weeks to complete. For someone traveling from afar, they only have to make one visit for the actual surgery. All preparations can be done from afar.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana