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In 2014, there were 5.8 million cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in the United States alone. In each case, the outcome profoundly impacted the patient’s life, whether through the aesthetic choice to reshape a nose or the medical necessity to remove a tumor. For anyone who has undergone surgery or stood by a loved one during the process, the patient’s choice of doctor and faith in outcome casts a palpable mood over the entire experience.

Although a doctor's reputation and experience carry tremendous weight in quelling pre-operative worries, any advance information that can be shared to help set a patient’s expectations works wonders. Understanding this, New York-based start-up MirrorMe3D is using color-jet 3D printing to give plastic surgery patients a sneak-peek at their surgery’s expected outcomes, helping to match the doctor’s vision with the patient’s.

Dr. Carrie Stern established MirrorMe3D to advance plastic surgery consultations and treatment plans beyond the standard 2D representation. MirrorMe3D uses full-color 3D printed before and after models to give patients a physical idea of their surgery’s outcome, giving patients a higher level of confidence and control over their procedure.

In addition to assisting surgeons in the OR, “3D printed models relieve a lot of the anxiety that patients have about their surgical outcome,” said Dr. Stern. In fact, many medical professionals are now combining 3D software tools and 3D printing to provide more personalized care, from the way they communicate with patients, to how they plan and perform procedures. “This is a game-changer in the field of cosmetic surgery,” said Dr. Stern.

Watch the video below to hear firsthand from a patient and practitioner on the impact of 3D printing in cosmetic surgery: