A mother left with a hole in her face and without an eye because of skin cancer has been given a prosthetic made using a phone camera and 3D printer.
Denise Vicentin was so self-conscious about her wound she avoided being seen in public and burst into tears when she caught her reflection in the mirror.
But now the 52-year-old says she is 'so happy' after having her 'missing piece' filled by doctors who crafted her a pioneering prosthetic.
Mrs Vicentin lost part of her jaw, as well as her right eye, during her cancer battle in 2010. It left her with difficulty eating and slurred speech.
Over the years she was offered to have a hand-made prosthetic sculpted. However, she refused because the procedure cost £384,000.
Mrs Vicentin, from Brazil, was referred to a team of researchers at Paulista University in Sao Paulo last year. They developed a cheaper, alternative treatment.
Their method was a fraction of the cost and took just half the time of the traditional methods. It is unclear how much Mrs Vicentin paid.
Using a smartphone, doctors took 15 pictures of Mrs Vicentin's face from different angles, which were used to make a three-dimensional digital model on a computer.
Technicians then 3D-printed a prototype prosthetic which they used as a guideline to make the final one from silicone, resin and synthetic fibers.
To make the prosthesis as life-like as possible, the researchers carefully painted it to match Mrs Vicentin's skin and blue-green eye.
The process for making the final prosthesis took 12 hours – around half the time of conventional methods.
But the entire process was spread out over a year because she underwent surgeries to prepare for it to be fitted.
Doctors had to implant titanium hooks in her eye socket to hold the prosthesis in place. She had it fitted in early December.
Mrs Vicentin said the egg-sized prosthetic makes her comfortable enough to walk around in public – something she had avoided for years.
She added: '[Before] when I was on the metro or train, I tried not to pay attention to the stares.
'At places like the bowling alley, I felt them looking, and the person would even leave when they saw me.
'It was a long time looking at a face which was missing a piece, so I am so happy. I only took it off to clean it - I even slept with it.'
Mrs Vicentin's journey to recovery is not over yet as she needs further treatment to restore her jaw and top lip.
Her ordeal began 30 years ago when she developed a non-cancerous facial tumor. It was removed twice, but it returned in a malignant form two decades later.
Gradually, she lost parts of the right side of her face – along with her marriage and her confidence.
Lead researcher Dr Rodrigo Salazar and his colleagues began offering the treatment after developing the technique in 2016.
The method was published in 2016 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.
Thanks to the advancement in smartphone and 3D printing technology, they have been able to craft life-like facial prosthetics to more than 50 patients.
The team specialises in maxillofacial prosthetics, a branch of dentistry focused on treating people disfigured by birth defects, disease or trauma.
Dr Salazar said: 'In the past, it took much longer work, hours of sculpting by hand, and the process was very invasive, with material on the patient's face to get an imprint of their appearance.
'Today with cell phone pictures, we create a three-dimensional model. The method demonstrates that you don't need big investments to use advanced technology.'
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.