Maxillofacial surgery can be used to help appearance and restore function. Often there is a need to provide additional volume with soft tissue properties. This works explores the use of a new biomaterial invented at GT with soft tissue properties as possible maxillofacial implants to provide volume. The implants are for restoring speech function in cleft palate patients presenting velopharyngeal insufficiency and providing volume to reduce the nasolabial folds in order to create a more youthful appearance.
We have developed facial implants for the nasolabial fold and lip plumping to address low efficiency of the current methods employed for dermal fillers by providing both long-term usage as well as removability. Furthermore, an insertion method and insertion tools were developed to facilitate the implantation for the surgeons.
Regarding the reconstructive aspects of the maxillofacial implants, we have developed a pharyngeal implant aiming to reduce the gap between the pharyngeal implant and the velum (soft palate) of 20% of patients presenting a cleft palate. This implant will allow the care team to delay the palatoplasty in order to not hinder palatal growth in patients. The material used for the implants can also be used to better the current obturators by replacing the acrylic, posterior portion. The main current obturators are the nance obturator and custom acrylic obturators, deemed uncomfortable for the patients due to the hardness of the material. The design process for the implants and the novel obturator involved the optimization of material and shape, taking into consideration mechanical properties of the implantsí surrounding tissues, the anatomy of each feature being enhanced as well as potential implantation modes.