A plastic surgery application in evolution: three-dimensional printing

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Feb;133(2):446-451. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000436844.92623.d3.


Background: Three-dimensional printing represents an evolving technology still in its infancy. Currently, individuals and small business entities have the ability to manufacture physical objects from digital renderings, computer-aided design, and open source files. Design modifications and improvements in extrusion methods have made this technology much more affordable. This article explores the potential uses of three-dimensional printing in plastic surgery.

Methods: A review was performed detailing the known uses of three-dimensional printing in medicine. The potential applications of three-dimensional printing in plastic surgery are discussed.

Results: Various applications for three-dimensional printing technology have emerged in medicine, including printing organs, printing body parts, bio-printing, and computer-aided tissue engineering. In plastic surgery, these tools offer various prospective applications for surgical planning, resident education, and the development of custom prosthetics.

Conclusions: Numerous applications exist in medicine, including the printing of devices, implants, tissue replacements, and even whole organs. Plastic surgeons may likely find this technology indispensable in surgical planning, education, and prosthetic device design and development in the near future.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inventions
  • Printing / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Surgery, Plastic / methods*