What is Anaplastology?

D. Jeffress

Anaplastology is a medical profession that is dedicated to creating realistic prosthetics for patients who have missing or deformed features due to surgery, injury, or congenital defects. Most anaplastology experts specialize by working with particular body parts, such as facial features, limbs, or breasts. Depending on the complexity of the task, it may take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks before a quality silicone prosthetic is finished. Professionals often meet directly with patients for fittings so they can make any necessary adjustments and explain proper usage and cleaning procedures.

An anaplastology expert sets up a consultation with the patient once the device is ready for use.
An anaplastology expert sets up a consultation with the patient once the device is ready for use.

The process of making a new prosthetic involves many complicated steps. First, an anaplastology technician meets with a patient and his or her doctors to learn about the abnormality, take pictures and careful measurements, and to devise a plan. Achieving symmetry is a major goal when forming a new breast, eye, ear, or finger. A wax mold is often taken of a corresponding body part on the patient's body to ensure the prosthetic will be made to accurate dimensions. After creating a mold and carefully studying pictures, an anaplastologist can begin working on the actual device.

Most prosthetics are made primarily out of silicone since the plastic is comparable in weight, texture, and consistency to human flesh. Harder or softer plastics can be used for specific areas of a prosthetic to mimic realistic qualities, such as joints in a finger or the orbital bone below an eye. Prosthetics are usually formed by filling wax molds with hot liquid silicone that hardens to the proper consistency as it cools. Special features, such as wrinkles, depressions, nail beds, or nipples, are sculpted by hand using precision instruments.

After a prosthetic is constructed, the anaplastology expert refers to pictures to match skin colors. He or she uses specialized dyes that penetrate deep into the silicone to ensure that colors do not fade or change over time. Special attention is paid to subtle variations in skin tone and darker areas where blood vessels would be present. If the prosthetic is designed to cover a missing eye, artificial hairs may be laid down to mimic the patient's eyebrow and eyelashes.

The anaplastology expert sets up a consultation with the patient once the device is ready for use. He or she shows the patient how to fit it correctly and explains cleaning techniques. Many prosthetics must be removed daily for cleaning to avoid damage and prevent bacteria from building up underneath them. A patient usually needs to schedule another fitting in about six months to two years so the prosthetic can be replaced or adjusted to match changes in physical appearance.

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