Medical devices

Epithesis – Application & Health Benefits


Epitheses are aesthetic prostheses made from foreign materials that are intended to compensate for body defects. Above all, body defects on the face are corrected with epitheses. This reduces the suffering of accident victims and tumor patients who have lost parts of their faces.

What is an epithesis?

In the case of plastic surgical epitheses, foreign material is used to compensate for body defects. The term epithesis comes from the Greek and in its literal translation means “that which is put on”.

The first epitheses are said to have existed as early as the Egyptians. Epitheses were first depicted in images in the Middle Ages and modern epithets were being prepared in the 18th century. At that time, the dentist Nicolas Dubois de Chémant formed the first epitheses of the nose and chin , all of which were made of porcelain. Substances such as caoutchouc, aluminum and silicone for epitheses were also later discovered.

Epithetics is above all under the star of aesthetics. The epithesis is usually intended to alleviate psychosocial stress after disfigurement. The primarily aesthetic aspect distinguishes an epithesis from a prosthesis or an orthosis , which must primarily meet functional requirements. Most often, epitheses are made for the facial area, especially after accidents or operations.

Shapes, Species & Types

Epithesis can be made of different, exogenous materials. For example, glass, plastic, porcelain, metal or rubber can form the basis. Which material is used depends primarily on the part of the body that is to be replaced by the epithesis.

An epithesis can be attached in four different ways. For example, an epithesis of the eye can be attached to existing anatomical structures in the empty eye socket . However, eye and nose prostheses can also be attached mechanically. You can then be attached to glasses , for example , which makes it easier to put on and take off. However, since this type of prosthesis is taken off and put on every day with the glasses and can slip off the nose during sporting activities, for example, it is not the popular model today.

The third attachment option is to fix the epithesis by chemical means such as medical glue. Such a procedure can be implemented relatively quickly, but it can irritate the skin . In the fourth type of attachment, the epithesis is attached to a titanium implant just under the skin. This type of anchoring is now the most widespread in modern medicine. The epithesis carrier, i.e. the point where the titanium implants penetrate the skin, must be cleaned regularly to avoid inflammation and other complications.

Structure & functionality

Some prostheses adapt themselves to a body defect due to their shape and thus remain attached without any aids. If such an epithesis is beyond the possibilities, it must be mechanically anchored as described above. For this purpose, the doctor usually implants small metal pins in the bone. At the end of the implantation, these metal pins protrude from the patient’s skin like tiny anchor posts. The epithesis can then be fixed to the metal pins. The final fixation can be carried out using magnetic components in the epithesis, bars, snaps or clips.

A crucial question in this context is, for example, whether the patient wants or should regularly remove the epithesis. In this way, the individual needs of the patient are taken into account in the planning. The living situation of the patient also has an influence on the final type of attachment. A young high-performance athlete, for example, often wants stability and support from an epithesis. On the other hand, easy handling of the prosthesis is often more important to senior citizens with a quieter life than the stability of the attachment. Even today, some patients prefer epistheses that are glued on, since this type of attachment saves them the expense of the operation. Because of its low holding power, however, medical adhesive is now only recommended for small and light prostheses.

Medical & health benefits

The benefit of an epithesis is primarily reflected in the social integration and the improved psychological condition of the patient. People with facial defects in particular often withdraw socially out of shame and suffer from psychologically devastating consequences as a result of the disfiguring defect.

However, epithets are not only intended to help those affected to reap less ridicule or irritation from other people. They should also regain security and increase their own self-esteem again. For social interaction and thus interpersonal contact, the face with its individual parts is an irreplaceably important instrument of expression and is even treated as a kind of business card. Epitheses give the person concerned the security of social interaction. Social interactions and interpersonal relationships are made easier for the patient in this way. The risk of isolation after a disfigurement can therefore be reduced with epitheses. Psychological consequences are reduced and the quality of life of those affected increases.

This aspect also plays a role for prostheses, but is even more important in the field of epistheses. Accordingly, epitheses have health benefits primarily in the context of mental health.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.