Peter Evans – Maxillofacial Prosthetics
Peter loves his job. He is a maxillofacial prosthetist – someone who rebuilds faces with prosthetics for people born with deformity of for those who have had their faces damaged in accidents or by cancer.
Of all the healthcare science professions it is probably the one that is closest to an artistic craft. Peter had always been a sculptor but was studying to be a dental technologist. Larking about one day in class, he made himself a false nose out of dental wax. His lecturer immediately spotted his potential as a prosthetist and he hasn’t looked back since. Today, the profession requires much more than craft skills, combining as it does science and cutting edge technology. Recently Peter’s team won an award for the way in which they had used CAD-CAM, the computer software used by designers in manufacturing to make facial prostheses, more relaibly, in a third less time. This is important not just for UK patients, but worldwide, because facial deformity is a major global problem desperately in need of cheaper, more effective solutions. His unit in Morriston, Swansea, one of the leading centres in the UK, was also amongst the first to use a 3d virtual environment to plan complex surgery involving the skull. Doing it this way means that the implant screws needed to hang prosthetics from the skull are selected in exactly the right length prior to surgery, ensuring a much better result for the patient.
Despite all the high tech equipment, it’s a job that requires novel thinking. Every patient is different and some of their problmes are very challenging to overcome.
People like Peter spend a great deal of time with patients, fitting them for new devices or working with them prior to complex surgery. The relationship can endure for many years. “Being able to make a difference to peoples’ lives is the greatest pleasure, enabling people who might not like to be seen in public to return to a normal life”.
Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill