Clinical anaplastology is the area of medicine that deals the with prosthetic restoration or rehabilitation of a malformed or absent area of the face or body. Unlike prosthetists, anaplastologists don’t make limb prosthetics, though they do create prosthetic fingers, toes, feet, hands, breast prostheses (called somato prostheses). Anaplastologsits create several types of facial prosthetics including auricular (ear), nasal (nose), ocular (eyeball), orbital (the eyelids, sockets, and surrounding area), and midfacial (the nose and significant tissue extending from it which may include the cheek or orbit). It’s an important area of work that can have life-changing effects for patients, improving function, appearance, and overall wellbeing.
To create a life-like facial or somato prosthesis, the area must be sculpted to visually match and physically fit the patient’s existing anatomy. The finished sculpture is then molded and cast in silicone. It is custom colored to match the patient’s skin. Anaplastologisists aim to capture even the tiniest details including blood vessels, hair, and freckles. Additional anatomy such as eyes and nails can be made from other materials.
I just found out about this organization, called Positive Exposure, that was created by fashion photographer Rick Guidotti to celebrate beauty. Specifically the beauty of individuals with “genetic, physical, and behavioral differences” through photography and video (as per their mission statement). According to the About Page, the organization was Guidotti’s response to the “sad and dehumanizing [images…] [i]n medical textbooks [where] children with a difference were seen as a disease, a diagnosis first, not as people.” He wanted to challenge those conceptions and educate people “to see those with differences not as victims, but kids and people first and foremost?” To do that, Guidotti said that ” The pity has to disappear. The fear has to disappear. Behavior has to change. These kids need to be seen as their parents see them, as their friends see them, as valuable and positive parts of society, as beautiful.” Truth.
The photographs created by Positive Exposure are beautiful and they truly celebrate the beauty of individuals. You can check out Positive Exposure’s Gallery to see some of them.
If you think this is as awesome as I do, then you’re in luck because Joanna Rudnick made a documentary about Guidotti’s mission called On Beauty. I can’t wait to see it.
When a prosthesis requires facial hair, anaplastologist will often use real hair. For brows especially, we try to use a sample of the patient’s hair, when available, or a donor’s. The best donor hair has a variety of thicknesses and colors in each sample allowing it to create the appropriate variability of color and texture we see in brows and lashes. For thick lashes or mustaches, we will often buy hair (real or synthetic) for application. Some anaplastologists may be or work with a wigmaker or hair specialist to make custom mustaches or wigs for patients that require them.