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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
DIY surgery fixes man's face
Facial frame
The frame was built using B&Q components
Doctors have surgically realigned a young man's face using a titanium and stainless steel frame from the DIY chain B&Q.

Student Stuart Young's face was readjusted using 15 worth of nuts and bolts from a store.

His face had to be brought forward to give him a more streamlined appearance and make eating easier.

Surgeons detached the face from the skull to advance it to the correct position.

Leading maxillofacial surgeon David Koppel said that rather than spend thousands of pounds on less than ideal equipment, they decided to look in B&Q for the components required.

Stuart with frame
Stuart had to survive on liquids
Stuart 20, of Gourock, has undergone about 20 operations to release the bones in his skull, hands and feet. This allowed his brain to grow unrestricted as his skull had fused and his hands and feet were stiff and rigid.

He was born with a congenital condition called Apert Syndrome which restricted the growth of bones in his head, and resulted in fused fingers and toes.

His latest operation at the craniofacial surgery unit at Canniesburn Hospital, near Glasgow, could only be done by using a halo-type frame.

Surgeons found the right threaded rods on the shelves of B&Q.

They detached the face from the skull to advance it to the correct position and this was done by bringing his face forward at a rate of 1mm per day until it was lengthened by one-and-a-half cm.

Mr Koppel said: "We could not use the commercially available frames because they have significant drawbacks and we thought we could do better.

'Breaking a bone'

"The technical skills on our maxillofacial laboratory allowed us to make this happen with simple and cheap parts. A custom-made frame allows us to be more precise in what we do.

"The technique of breaking a bone and lengthening it while it heals and resets is called distraction osteogenesis and is used in other areas where limbs or fingers have to be lengthened.

Stuart said wearing the frame caused him more than a few problems.

Stuart Young
Stuart Young: "It was worth it"
"I virtually lived on soup during that time and could only dream of steaks, roasts and crunchy apples," he said.

"Even a square of chocolate was forbidden. But I was driven to grating chocolate bars and turning them into minuscule pieces for a treat. It's amazing what desperation drives you to after weeks without chocolate.

"It was like living in a head cage and I could only sleep if I rested my head in a certain way. When they took it off I went home for a huge roast dinner, but no soup. Never again!

"When I look at my jaw I realise that it was worth it because it's now more in line with the rest of my face."

Technologist Fraser Walker, a do-it-yourself fan, said the technicians have found B&Q a valuable source of material for various types of surgery.

He said: "We find B&Q very useful and the bill came to only 15. Commercial frames are well into four figures.

"Our job is all about seeing the potential of everyday hardware and using it to help solve the problems and challenges of the surgeons who rebuild faces."

The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"Stuart is delighted with the results"
See also:

02 Aug 01 | Scotland
DIY jobs boost for Scotland
05 Jun 01 | Business
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27 Dec 00 | Business
B&Q to create 4,000 jobs
22 Dec 00 | Business
Sainsbury's sells Homebase
06 Dec 00 | Business
Do-it-All sees room for improvement
01 Sep 00 | Business
Do It All at Wickes
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