Ink-credible… a man badly injured in a motorbike crash had his face reconstructed using a 3D printer.
In a medical first, surgeons repaired Stephen Power’s cheekbone and eye socket using the cutting-edge technology to plan and execute an eight-hour operation.
They used scanned 3D images of his face to design guides to cut and position bones, as well as print titanium implants which were fitted to the 29-year-old’s face.
Mr Power, from Cardiff, broke both arms, both cheeks, both eye sockets and his jaw in a biking accident in September 2012.
Surgeons could not fully repair his cheek so the Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery planned to restore the symmetry to Mr Power’s face.
Maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar said: “Stephen had a very complex injury and correcting it involved bones having to be re-cut into several fragments.
“It was a three dimensional exercise. We had virtual and physical model planning for each stage of the operation.
“Without this technology, you have to guess where everything goes. With 3D printing, we are far more precise.
“This is the first time we’ve taken it to this stage, where everything to the last screw has been modelled in advance – it worked sweetly.”
Before the operation, Stephen had been self-conscious about his appearance. He continued to wear glasses despite his improving vision, to disguise his cheek and eye.
Mr Power said: “I won’t have to hide my face away and my confidence will be back.
“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.
“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.”