Models From 3D Printers Help Doctors Perform Face Transplant Surger

Monday, December 01, 2014

Boston, MA — The victim of a vicious crime is the beneficiary of medical innovation and new technology.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it gave surgeons a game plan before they entered the operating room. The models helped guide surgeons as they gave a Carmen Tarleton’s life-changing face transplant.

“This surgery has improved my quality of life tremendously,” she said.

Seven years ago, Tarleton was badly disfigured when her ex-husband threw industrial strength lye in her face. She suffered third and fourth degree burns.

Dozens of operations failed to relieve the physical pain nor they did the change her appearance.

Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston turned to models made by the Stratasys Company’s 3D printers.

The models of Tarleton’s skull, disfigured face and a face from an organ donor, were so realistic, Doctors Donald Annino and Frank Rybicki knew exactly what do to in the operating room.

“I didn’t have lips, just the function in my mouth, being able to smile a little bit,” said Tarleton. “I can blink my left eye now and keep it open enough to see. It’s just been a great adventure for me”

The doctors who treated Carmen are sharing their experience at the Radiological Society convention at McCormick Place.

3D printers are also creating models of other body parts and experts predict even more advances in coming years as the printers become more sophisticated