A prosthesis is an artificial replacement for a part of the body that is missing or disfigured. The prostheses we design are custom-made of a soft flexible plastic called silicone. A facial prosthesis serves to:
- restore facial or bodily features
- protect delicate tissues from exposure or injury
- aid in eating, breathing, and speaking
Prostheses are designed to be removed daily.
How Many Appointments Are Necessary?
You may need 4-6 appointments for your custom-designed prosthesis. The appointments vary from 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the procedure being performed that day.
The following is a typical appointment schedule.
- Consultation – During your initial appointment, you will meet the team of health professionals who provide maxillofacial prosthetic treatment. This team consists of dentists, medical artists, psychologists, speech and hearing specialists, and surgeons. One or more of these specialists will interview you to discuss your feelings and expectations about the treatment you are about to receive. You will have an opportunity to see examples of our prostheses and ask questions about their cost, attachment, care, replacement, and effectiveness. Such clinical procedures as hospital registration, medical examination, and establishment of fees also take place during this appointment.
- Impression – We will take an impression of the affected area of your body with a soft, flexible material. From this impression, we make a plaster model to use for sculpting the preliminary wax prosthesis.
- Sculpting – The preliminary prosthesis is sculpted in wax to allow us to make easy modifications. You will try on the wax prosthesis and adjustments will be made to assure an accurate fit. In some cases, old photographs are invaluable aids in replicating facial features. We invite you to bring a relative or friend with you so that you may benefit from their opinions. In your absence, the wax model is used to make the mold for the final prosthesis.
- Coloring – The silicone materials for the final prosthesis is colored to match your skin tones as closely as possible. There will, however, always be some variation, and as skin color changes with season, and as the prosthesis color changes with age, the variations will increase.
- Delivery – During the final appointment, we will give you instruction on the use and care of your prosthesis; take photographs for our clinical records, and schedule a follow-up appointment.
How Are Prostheses Attached?
Prosthetics are either implant retained or adhesive retained.
Prosthetics that are implant retained require multiple additional visits to fabricate.
Once fabricated, your dental care provider will review insertion and removed instructions, and also care and cleaning instructions.
- Your prosthesis is held on by a special adhesive provided by this office.
- Skin must first be cleaned of all oils and dirt using a mild soap, and then dried.
- Adhesive is painted on the back of the CLEAN prosthesis, usually once daily, and allowed to dry to touch, usually 5-10 minutes. Stay slightly away from the thin edges of the prosthesis with adhesive, or it may tear on removal.
- The adhesive-coated prosthesis cannot be moved around once it touches skin, so placement must be correct the first time, or removal and another layer of adhesive is needed.
- Do not allow adhesive to build up on the prosthesis. Occasionally two layers are needed for good adhesion.
- Adhesive must be cleaned off the prosthesis every night, using gauze squares and the special solvent we will give to you. Additional adhesive and solvent is available from this office at our cost.
How Do I Remove My Prosthesis?
The prosthesis must be removed and left off at night to give the underlying skin a chance for normal circulation to occur. This must be done every night, followed by cleaning as we described above. After cleaning adhesive off the back of the prosthesis with solvent, clean the front surface with mild soap and a very soft nylon toothbrush. Occasionally, a skin reaction to the adhesive may occur, and the brand of adhesive must be changed.
How Do I Care For My Prosthesis?
- A prosthesis should be handled with care. You should remove and clean your prosthesis according to the directions we have given.
- When not in use, store your prosthesis away from heat and sunlight and avoid unnecessary handling.
- Detailed information on caring for your prosthesis is here
How Long Will My Prosthesis Last?
With proper care, your prosthesis will last about a year. Because silicone is a synthetic material, it will eventually deteriorate. Tearing, changing color, and yellowing indicate that a replacement is necessary. Making a replacement is an easy process.
What Will It Cost?
During your first appointment, the staff will determine a cost estimate based on the type and complexity of your prosthesis. At your request, we will help you explore ways to obtain financial assistance.
How Will It Look?
Use of cosmetics to blend the prosthesis color with your skin color is especially useful. Many women are highly expert in this area. Many are not, however, and men especially may need help. We recommend a consultation with a Medical Cosmetology expert for specific instructions in your case to help camouflage your prosthesis. We will do all we can to help you achieve a successful cosmetic result with your facial prosthesis.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Prostheses?
Becoming accustomed to your prosthesis will take time and a positive attitude. Patients who seem to be most satisfied with their prosthesis tell us that the greatest benefit is that the prosthesis helps them to feel inconspicuous in crowds. Because everyone has different perceptions of what prosthesis can do for them, we cannot guarantee that your expectations will be met. Our clinical staff encourages you to discuss openly any concerns you may have in adjusting to your prosthesis.
This information is a general guideline regarding facial prostheses, and some additional information and guidelines may be needed in your individual case.