3D printing techniques could revolutionize rhinoplasty

More than two hundred thousand of us last year, made a doctor’s visit for a bit of rhinoplasty – or as it’s more commonly called, a nose job.

It is a job too.  They cut, they stitch, they take out, they put in.

Here’s how the doctors at the Mayo Clinic describe it:  “Rhinoplasty may be done inside your nose or through a small external cut at the base of your nose … Your surgeon will likely readjust the bone and cartilage underneath your skin … For small changes, the surgeon may use cartilage taken from deeper inside your nose or from your ear.  For larger changes, the surgeon can use cartilage from your rib, implants or bone from other parts of your body.  After these changes are made, the surgeon places the nose’s skin and tissue back and stitches the incisions in your nose.”

Or as we’d describe that:  Ouch!

So here’s a piece of good news for your nose – we might able to say good bye to those scalpels and sutures in the future.

Scientists at two universities in Southern California (Occidental and UC Irvine) teamed up to experiment with using electricity (low dose) to “soften” the collagen in our nose (which is a fiber that gives shape to cartilage).  After a few minutes of that, on goes a 3D-printed mold (the kind generally made from petrochemical-derived polymers like polyacrylates from propylene), made to the shape of the new nose-to-be.  Turn off the current, take off the mold, give the cartilage a bit to resolidify – and, voilà.  No cutting or scraping or sewing.  Just a new nose.

So far, the new procedure is promising, but it is also still in the let’s-test-this-out-first stage – so don’t call to book your procedure just yet.

By the way, if you’re wondering why a nose job is rhinoplasty and does that have anything to do with rhinoceroses, we’ve got that for you:  “rhino”, goes back to the Greek, and of course means, nose (“plasty” is the surgery part).  And, if you looked like this…

…well, the other kids might have called you Rhino too.

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