Scientists from the University of Alberta have found a way to use 3D bioprinting technology to create custom-shaped cartilage for people having plastic surgery. The technique is specifically aimed at safely restoring the nasal area for people with skin cancer who have had nasal cartilage removed during the removal of affected areas. It will enable plastic surgeons across the globe to make cartilage in just four weeks! Previously, doing so would have taken a lifetime.
Hydrogel to the Rescue
The technique relies on a specifically formulated hydrogel—a material that is similar in look and texture to gelatin. This substance can be blended with cells harvested from a patient and printed into the desired shape via 3D imaging. In weeks, the material is cultivated in a lab, growing into usable cartilage. Once implanted in the body, the scientists said, it still has to undergo a period of maturation. However, it can function in the same way cartilage does, thus correcting facial disfiguration.
As stated by this reputable plastic surgeon in NJ, rhinoplasty or nose surgery is not always undertaken merely to enhance nose shape. Sometimes, it is used to correct disfigurement caused by cancer and other problems that can eat away at cartilage. In the US alone, some three million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. Of those, 40% have nose lesions that require surgical removal.
In the past, in order to restore cartilage, the latter was taken from the patient’s ribs and reshaped to the shape and size required by the surgeon. However, this type of cartilage implant can warp and curve, which wrests from the visual appearance of the nose. Moreover, the procedure requires the rib area to be opened. The ribs have the vital function of protecting the lungs, and tampering with this part of the body could raise a patient’s risk of having a collapsed lung or even of infection and death.
The new technique allows surgeons to bypass these risks. It involves taking a small biopsy from the nose—a procedure that takes only half an hour. With the small amount of tissue obtained, 3D printing can be used to create the exact shape required. The technique is expected to be available within the next two years.
A new technique has seen doctors create nose cartilage via 3D bioprinting. The technique enables doctors to achieve the exact shape desired. It also enables patients to avoid potential complications associated with opening up the rib area. It is considered a faster, simpler, and above all, safer way to reconstruct the nose following skin cancer surgery.