When Elise Lutz was a toddler in China she suffered a severe burn which seriously disfigured her right ear with a molten lump which she tried tirelessly to hide from the view of friends and strangers alike. When Elise became a teenager she wanted what many of her friends had; pierced ears. And thus began her search for a new ear and the feeling of wholeness which she had missed throughout her childhood.
For Elise the perfect answer was not plastic surgery or a glue-on prosthesis which could easily be knocked off, especially since she is an ardent swimmer. The answer for Elise came from anaplasty, the field in which medical artists create ‘Hollywood-esque’ special effects that mimic the look of real-life, including shimmering in the sun like real skin.
“People who have implant-retained ears or noses or whatever usually think of them really as their own body,” says Jerry Schoendorf, who, with his colleague at The Anaplastology Clinic in Durham, N.C., — and surgeons at nearby Duke University Medical Center — created Elise’s ear.
“It’s the Rolls Royce of what we can offer,” adds fellow anaplastologist Jay McClennen.