Developing

The British hospital that makes 9,000 latex faces a year

This disembodied eye looks like a special effect - but it's actually a prosthetic made to order in a British hospital.

This disembodied eye looks like a special effect - but it's actually a prosthetic made to order in a British hospital.

The latex prosthetic was one of 9,000 body parts made every year by a team working to rebuild damaged and disfigured faces.

They are built to look as real as possible by the maxillofacial team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

The team painstakingly sculpts each feature in wax then mould them into latex noses, teeth or ears - making sure each one is a perfect match for the patient's skin tone.

Recipients include facial trauma victims left with injuries from fights, fires, cancers and throat operations.



Among the more unusual items created was a set of eyelid weights made of gold that helped a patient with nerve damage finally close her eyes.

The team's prosthetics also help people talk, eat and even stop them snoring.

Philip Brewer, an advanced technologist, said: "We live in a visual society and so we are able to make eyes and sculpture faces out of wax before conversion to silicone coloured to match their existing features.

"It gives them back their face and their confidence. Some have substantial amounts of tissue removed and we can make complex devices to help them with this.

"Then there are those who have had orbital cancers and have lost an eye and sometimes half of their face.

''The devices can have a huge impact on their lives.  We help to design things that make people's lives better.''