If you have read this blog from the beginning you will know that I have had a prosthetic eye (orbital prosthesis) crafted to make good the defect (hole) in my face. I know what a daunting thought it is to have part of your face replaced, the physiological considerations I have covered earlier. This is how they do their magic, and the alchemy involved.
I should point out that I have had titanium implants (Branemark implants) fitted, which the prosthetic connects to magnetically. I spoke briefly about this earlier in my post titled surgery and treatment. These Branemark implants are similar to the type used in dentistry where a tooth is screwed into the jaw.
My implants were fitted some 5 months after the initial surgery to remove my eye and about 3 months after radiotherapy. The reason for the staggered stages is that after radiotherapy the affected area has to recover so the bone and tissues can heal properly.
I have three Branemark implants that are screwed into the bone around the orbit of my eye. I will also point out that it is possible to simply have a prosthetic glued into the orbit, which you can do yourself. I had used this method before my implants and I wasn’t a fan. The glue irritated my skin and was difficult to clean. I think it is a choice you can make, also the surgeon may think the bone may not be strong enough to take the implant. My thought was to do the job properly first time.
To create an orbital prosthesis takes time. It is a multi layered process using a variety of materials and techniques. It requires skill and understanding.
The initial stage of creating an eye is to take an impression of the face.
This picture shows the first stage which is to take the mould of the orbit, The next stage is to take a plaster cast of the face which oozes over the face in a way an egg would slowly slide off your head were it to be cracked open upon it. It sets after a few minutes and is released from the skin by screwing up your face. You end up with this:
The eye was painstakingly painted to match my good eye
The real challenge is to place the eye within the prosthetic so it matches the shape of the face. If the position is wrong by even a millimeter it looks odd, so it is a process of trial and error until the position is perfect.
This picture shows my old prosthetic eye and a picture of me while the new eye is being crafted. At this stage it is sculpted from a special wax, which sets quickly but also becomes pliable with a little heat. It is still a way off yet as the finer intricacies have to be applied, and the eyebrow threaded into it.
The reason why the prosthesis fits over the brow line is two-fold, firstly the position of the Branemark implants means that the prosthesis has to cover those and meet the natural skin without an obvious and unnatural bulge. Secondly my eye brow never really grew back after radiotherapy.
Well that’s it really. Curious to some, boring to others.