The Makeover Issue: Medicine

About face

If a prefab chin doesn’t suit you, try the ‘bespoke’ version.

It may come as a surprise to some that facial implants are a lot like off-the-rack suits: Finding the perfect fit can be a challenge. But thanks to 3-D imaging technology historically reserved for patients with deformities or injuries, Dr. Michael Yaremchuk, chief of craniofacial surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, is now offering all plastic surgery patients customizable implants for chins, cheeks, and jaws.

While traditional implants often float over bone and can be placed only in certain areas, Yaremchuk’s made-to-order implants can be carved and affixed with screws and can eliminate the need to cut bone. As a result, his surgeries are precise, more predictable, and about 40 percent faster than traditional methods.

“Nobody around me can tell that I’ve had a surgery, but they can see that something is positively different,” explains one of Yaremchuk’s patients, a 30-year-old Boston woman who had chin and mandible implants (and prefers to remain anonymous). “It does not feel like a foreign body, but more like my own bone structure.” As it should. Who wants an off-the-rack face, anyway?