Anaplastologist Allison Vest is in the restoration business. Her skilled work gives people back confidence and happiness who have lost a crucial part of their anatomy by trauma, birth, or disease.
Vest’s work is a mix of artistry and medicine, as she sculpts and forms new noses, ears, hands, and more to restore people to the best of her ability. And her abilities are excellent, as you will see in TLC’s new series, Body Parts.
Next week, Body Parts follows certified anaplastologist Allison Vest, whose realistic silicone body parts she makes herself cover the gamut, from nipples to noses, ears, eyes, fingers, and more.
TLC’s new medical series Body Parts is a profoundly moving experience. It will level you with the results Vest turns out, and as dramatic as this process is, it will remind you that we take a lot for granted when it comes to our overall appearance.
This last week, Vest spoke to Monsters and Critics and told us that she never knew of this career option and that her interest in art combined with biology sciences, and she learned about anaplastology by chance.
In her office in Texas, Vest sees a gamut of folks who suffer from missing body parts, cancer, congenital disabilities, or physical trauma.
She and her assistant work in their lab and create the piece that will be able to be affixed with special adhesives, thereby creating a moment for the patient to restore what is missing and have the confidence to reenter the world, not feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
The reveals are extreme. In one case for the premiere, Vest works on prosthetic ear options for a young patient Ari Stojsik, born with Microtia and who suffered 18 surgeries to mitigate the problem to no avail. Her mother’s reaction will move you.
And in Jay Jaszkowski’s case, a rapidly growing cancer claimed his nose, but his reveal is breathtaking. He is reduced to tears when he sees his face for the first time in the mirror.
Tune in to TLC to watch with your children. This career path is rarely mentioned in schools. It will intrigue kids who want to get into medicine in a rewarding and rarely discussed vocation that combines artistic talent and medical knowledge.
Exclusive interview with Allison Vest
Monsters and Critics: How did you find out about becoming an anaplastologist? Most of us in school and when we were young never knew of this career?
Allison Vest: I also didn’t know about anaplastology when I was growing up. I learned about it when I was already immersed in graduate school. I loved biology and also studied art.
M&C: You are in Texas. Do you see patients just from your area or surrounding states?
Alison Vest: The majority of my patients come from Texas, but Oklahoma and Kansas are growing in numbers too!
M&C: On the delivery day and the filmed reveals with these patients, how does this play out in production, one take? When people react so strongly to their new appearances, do you fight to manage emotions?
Allison Vest: The reveals were all actual and very real. They were happening live and in real-time. I am not sure that I did manage to fight any emotions. I am not good at that.
M&C: Jay’s case, of all the three presented in the first episode, has the most dramatic outcome. Talk about why the nose prostheses are so surprising on delivery day outcomes and why you say you love noses so much?
Allison Vest: I love noses because they are so front and center to someone’s face.
Without a nose, you have no profile. A nose can be so definitive to someone’s identity.
As an artist, I also enjoy the creativity that goes into making a nose because I am not matching this feature to another one- like I typically am with an ear or a finger.
M&C: Ari’s case shines a light on Microtia. She can cover her congenital blip easier than someone like Jay, but her reaction, and especially her mother’s, was a very dramatic reveal. Do you see parents like Ari’s mother who somehow blame themselves for these congenital disabilities, and what would you say?
Allison Vest: In my practice, I have found that it is not unusual for mothers to be just as emotional as the patient.
The cause of microtia can quite often be idiopathic, or we will never know what caused it.
This simple explanation doesn’t change the condition, but I hope it might relieve any mother’s guilt.
M&C: Is your hope that the series will show people who live with these missing parts the country over, maybe where there are no anaplastolgists that they can consult with you and get some closure to their particular body issue?
Allison Vest: I would love for people all over the country who may not have otherwise known of anaplastology to see that there are options.
M&C: You talked about the nose prosthesis when I asked about one of the more challenging cases you faced professionally. Can you talk about why you did this palliative care for this man?
Allison Vest: I made a nasal prosthesis that gently covered this gentleman’s cancerous wound.
He was choosing not to have surgery to remove cancer. Instead, I made a prosthesis that gently covered the area so that he could feel comfortable going out into public.
This was new for me as a practitioner, and I had to research how to manage the fetid odor that accompanied his wound.
M&C: Your work is so personal. Do these patients keep in touch with you?
Allison Vest: Because prosthetics are not a one-and-done thing, we see our patients again typically years later.
I have been making an ear for a young man who recently came in for a new ear. He was wedding ring shopping while in town, and I was able to gawk over the lucky lady’s wedding ring options.
Since he was probably eight years old, I’ve been seeing this particular patient. It’s such a joy to be able to follow people like this.
M&C: Tell me about your office wing-woman we see in the series?
Allison Vest: Kathryn is no longer apprenticing with me, but I have a new apprentice joining me soon.
My parents were teachers growing up, so maybe the desire to teach is just in my blood.
M&C: Lastly, we all fret about something we dislike about ourselves, noses, breast size, ankles, teeth – we refuse to be happy with what we have! How has this career changed your outlook, and how do you counsel or what do you tell people who go on about minor complaints about their appearance?
Allison Vest: I don’t necessarily counsel people on their personal feelings towards their bodies. Instead, I listen and acknowledge what they are saying.
I am mindful, however, of how I talk about myself in front of my children and my patients. I want to be a positive role model in normalizing how a [average] middle-aged woman is supposed to appear.
Body Parts premieres Wednesday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TLC.