In the past year or so we have been hearing more and more about 3D printing, which, in simple terms is as follows: “3D printing refers to processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together).”
If you’re thinking ‘so what?’, then read on. Wikipedia conveniently summarises that “objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and typically are produced using digital model data from a 3D model or another electronic data source such as an Additive Manufacturing File (AMF) file (usually in sequential layers).” On the face of it, it might sound like something that would be used in an engineering or design environment, but it has scope to be used in many different industries, including cosmetic surgery.
Some surgeries are already benefitting from the use of 3D printing
Again, this may sound rather futuristic, but all new innovations need industry experts to take ideas forward and test them to see how effective they are. If it looks like they will work for the mass market, then the roll out has the potential to be much more widespread. There are a small number of companies who are using modelling software to project what patients will look like once they have undergone breast surgery, and then print a 3D model to bring this to life. The clear benefits are that everyone is able to visualise the expected outcomes, so that they can be discussed and tweaked before the operation is undertaken.
Not only that, 3D printing could also be used to produce breast implants, that will have been meticulously designed, modelled and created to fit the individual they are being produced for. 3D printing could also potentially offer the opportunity to push the boundaries of what is currently achievable with more traditional breast implants.
Developments such as these are interesting but much research would be required before it was considered a safe option for patients considering a breast augmentation procedure.