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.
I collaborated with my fellow medical illustrator and anaplastologist, McKenzie Wampler on this patient education piece about Microtia. Microtia affects one in 6,000-12,000 children, resulting in variably severe hearing loss (sometimes accompanied by atresia, absence of the ear canal) and abnormal external ear development. It is more common in boys than girls. In microtia cases, a BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aid) is used to assist hearing. The external ear anatomy can affect self-esteem and so the external anatomy is usually normalized with surgery and/or prosthetics. Since patients are often children, we decided to create a piece (soon to be a series) where Teddy, a bear with microtia who has recently gotten implants for an implant-retained auricular prosthesis, gets his new ear put on by his human, a little boy with microtia who is playing anaplastologist. This is a work in progress but as a teaser, here’s a shot of Teddy, who I created in ZBrush. His chair was done in 3DS Max.
Here’s a picture of Teddy with his human, (created in ZBrush by McKenzie Wampler). The scene is still being set but you can appreciate the concept from here.
We hope this will empower affected children to understand themselves, their healthcare team, and the options available to them, while inspiring curiosity, engagement, and the confidence that their healthcare team are motivated by the same love and care for their wellbeing, that they would have for their special best friends – their teddy bears.