An artificial device used to replace a missing or malformed physical feature can be taken for granted by many. However, it has been no less than a boon from the scientists and doctors for the ones living those traumas. Facial prostheses are artificial appliances designed to restore a missing facial part that cannot be reconstructed or repaired surgically. The flawless looks given by the use of facial prosthetics can help patients of trauma, cancer, or a congenital birth anomaly who have lost the part of their face. It is a life-changing milestone for people who have lost an eye, ear, or nose or sustained damage to intraoral structures. Thanks to science, you may not have to live with deformities if something is missing from your face. You don’t need to worry now, as science has this artificial device that can replace a missing or malformed part of your face or head.
However, facial prosthetics today has applications beyond medical needs. They are even used as an advanced tool in cosmetics. The prosthetics used by the movie character is rather termed as prosthetics make-up. It’s temporary and uses adhesive, but allows greater effect for the play. That extraordinary looking movie starts, and model all have their face re-decorated with facial prosthetics.
Moreover, with this technology, you can even alter the curve of a cheek and nose. Now, you could also make someone appear younger or older than they are. It can transform an actor/ actress into any creature or animal. It’s an easier and cheaper substitute for surgical rehabilitation made from foam latex, silicone, and cold foam.
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How Are prosthetics Made?
A prosthetic is custom-made for each person. Making these types of prostheses involve specialized skills and are provided by a maxillofacial prosthetist, prosthodontist, anaplastologist, or ocularist. Your doctor or surgeon will refer you to the right specialist depending on the type of anatomy missing.
Firstly, the prosthetics are sculpted and then molded into a custom to fit the individual’s needs. The most convincing looks are created by- Anatomical landmarks, facial proportions, and symmetry. Prostheses generally use Silicone rubber as it can be tinted to match the pigmentation of every individual.
Materials Used in Facial prosthetics
Prostheses are made out of biocompatible materials that mimic the tissue that has been lost. Extra-oral facial prostheses are commonly made out of medical-grade silicone because of the materials’ durability, life-like feel, and ability to be colored realistically. Prosthetic eyes and teeth are often made with acrylic, a type of plastic that can be colored and polished. Other intra-oral and cranial prostheses require the use of strong materials such as titanium or PEEK to give strength and longevity.
Pros and Cons of a Facial Prosthetics
When further surgery is not possible, Prosthetic rehabilitation is a valuable option, or rather a solution. However, it is important to know that it has its advantages and disadvantages.
- After major head and neck surgery, a prosthetic can enable a person to go back to normal daily life.
- Offer protection and support to affected areas
- Prostheses are important tools for social and physical rehabilitation following cancer surgery.
- It can be very subtle, and in certain anatomical situations can provide a better aesthetic result than some surgical reconstructive options.
- It can be non-invasive: prostheses don’t require more surgery unless the prosthetic is implanted or attached via bone-anchored implants.
- It offers protection for delicate tissues.
- It helps to empower people to start living ‘the new normal’ life.
- A prosthetic is not living tissue. It does not blink or move or have feeling like a real body part.
- A prosthetics may not be a permanent attachment and usually needs to be removed daily for cleaning and hygiene.
- A non-implanted prosthetics wears out over time and needs maintenance and replacement periodically in a person’s lifetime.
- It can be costly if no funding is available for the particular type of prosthetics.
Types of Facial Prosthetics
Naturally, facial prosthetics covers almost all the parts of the face. Such as,
An ear prosthetics can fit over little ears or a reconstructed ear you are unhappy with. Usually, parents choose ear prosthetics for their children so they can decide if they want to have surgery or not by themselves.
An orbital prosthetic goes in your eye socket to replaces your eyelids and eye. The eye is made with hard plastic, and soft silicone makes the eyelids.
It is an easy technique to apply a thin, flexible silicone over your nose. The prosthetic is attached to your skin with glue. Nose prosthetic not only gives a better look but allows you to wear glasses and protect your nasal cavity.
You can use prosthetics on intraoral structures. An obturator in the hard palate enhances functional outcomes of speech as well as swallowing and chewing. Also, the one whose mandible is resected due to cancer, a free tissue transfer with the fibula permits the placement of dental implants.
Modern Advancements In Prosthetics
Over the years, the trend of the prosthetics has been changed to a great extent. Here are the factors that are responsible for these changes.
Some decades back, facial prosthetics were hand-sculpted. Today, Computer-assisted design (CAD), computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM) techniques have revolutionized the field. You get the CT scan images that anatomical detects, and the computer-assisted prototyping stores the measurements layer. These are then used for making an intermediate wax pattern as a machine-made model. When the wax model is ready, a medical artist (anaplastologist) sculpts the model to exactly match the skin tone and facial contours of the recipient by using computer-aided measurements.
Now, with more advanced technology, the field of facial prosthetics uses Software programs as Mimics and SurgiCase, Ann Arbor, MI, Materialise e.t.c, which allow designing the contour of the prosthetics virtually.
Osseointegration, the ability to anchoring prosthetic devices into the bone, is one of the most makeable prosthetic developments over the past few decades. The titanium screws are placed into the craniofacial skeleton, and the magnets are kept into the top of these screws. These Magnets are then placed on the prosthetic device. Traditionally, adhesives were used to retain many types of prosthetic devices, which often caused Irritation, perspiration, and it is time-consuming. Besides osseointegration, silicon pieces that are impregnated with magnets can also be used to retain the prosthetics.
From medical to cosmetics, facial prosthetic has marked its applications in them all. But the main goal of all facial prosthetic treatment remains to improve the quality of life.