NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A three dimensional approach to medical care is becoming more the norm.

3D printing painted a clearer picture for college student Emma Fuchs – who had three facial procedures since she was 15-years-old.

She explains, “You were’t going into it blindly. I was very nervous before the jaw surgery, especially because there’s a lot happening, a long surgery. But it definitely, it gave me insight into what exactly they were doing and how it would turn out.”

Plastic Surgeon Dr. Derek Steinbacher at Yale Medicine relies on 3D models.

Pointing to one he says, “Based on this, we can really appreciate the anatomy and see the nerve coming through the lower jaw. You can see the positions of the teeth and the the roots.”

Details — for a virtual run through.

“It gives us a chance.” says Dr. Steinbacher, “To think about the procedure and go through a series of steps in advance prior to doing the surgery.”

So what happens in the operating room is streamlined and more efficient.

He says, “It really helps us be more precise, helps us understand the anatomy and it helps us get the best results we possibly can.”

The 3D structures are produced from 3D scans at the Yale Center for Engineering, Innovation and Design.

“Here we have a 3D model of a knee cap,” says Design Fellow Antonio Medina, “It can get down to a 10th of a millimeter, which is pretty precise.”

It can take up to 20 hours to build.

“So that they can take this,” he says, “And say, we’re going to operate in certain locations. This is what your knee cap currently looks like.”

A more accurate view that can lead to better results & potentially shorter recovery time.

Dr. Steinbacher says before 3D printing – most of the decisions were done in the operating room with a little less planning in advance.

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