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[Perspectives] Medical 3D printing and the physician-artist

It was psychologically impossible to prepare for the first patient I met who had catastrophic facial deformity. Medical training helped me respond to his sensory defects: sight, sound, smell, and taste. However, when one person meets another, we connect via, and then later recognise, one another’s face. When I met that first patient—one of many wounded soldiers with severe facial injuries—I was challenged to help artfully repair the damage. Had the injury occurred in the mid-20th century, surgery would have been greatly limited by the paucity of options in plastic surgery.