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The 24th November saw a most unusual talk that was very well attended. Richard Hardcastle the Chief Anaplastologist at St Luke's hospital treated us to a talk on the subject of cosmetic prosthetics.
Starting off with the history of the subject , it was fascinating to find that its beginnings were in Egypt where prosthetics were applied to mummies! It began to be applied to live people only in the mid-to-late 1500s when surgical techniques had developed enough for some severely injured battle casualties to survive. Starting with a Danish brass nose, the initial prosthetics were in various metals replacing noses and jaws plus glass eyes led by the French until the Americans began using porcelain in the late 1800s. Inevitably the First World War created surge in development with established sculptors becoming involved. Materials evolved through painted vulcanite and acrylic resin to the current silicone with integral colour.
The process is to sculpt the prosthetic in wax, make a mould and cast it in silicone. Prosthetics are held on place either mechanically, by their shape, with an adhesive or clipped onto permanent titanium implants. Typically a prosthesis is removed daily for cleaning and comfort of the skin underneath. 6 or 7 visits are needed to perfect the fit and blending with follow-up visits once the item is in use.
The unit's purpose is to provide "a successful prosthetic replacement that allows someone to look in the mirror and not only accept but like what they see". In doing this they resurrect lost confidence and give people their lives back after serious medical treatment.