Natalie and Jerry Levin have always had a strong appreciation for original works of art; their Dallas home looks like an art gallery. However, their most recent work of art is not hanging on a wall but perched on Jerry’s head.
Jerry’s right ear was surgically removed and was replaced with a nearly identical ear made of silicone created by an anaplastologist.
Jerry suffered from the second-most common type of skin cancer, called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). SCC is an abnormal, accelerated growth of squamous cells. If caught early, most SCCs are curable.
While talking to WFAA about his prosthetic ear replacement, Jerry remarked that Picasso had “done his thing” and “she does her thing,” referring to Allison Vest of Mosaic Prosthetics.
Vest is an anaplastologist who is also a classically trained artist. Her prosthetics illustrate the intersection of her skills, “blending artistry and technology.”
Natalie and Jerry were referred to Vest, who was able to create a replica of Levin’s left ear.
The couple calls the silicone replica “invisible art” due to its lifelike features.
Vest, who has been creating silicone prosthetics since 2013, has made fingers, toes, and noses and was even featured on TLC’s “Body Parts.”
“At the end of the day, [it’s about] going home and saying, ‘I made a difference,'” Vest said.
While Vest was busy before her TLC debut, she is now inundated with requests for silicone body parts.
Vest can create body parts that are hard to distinguish from the real thing, working to get the color, texture, and veining just right.
“The goal is to make it possible for people to venture outside the confines of their homes without feeling uneasy,” says Vest.
For Vest, creating the prosthetics gives her purpose and makes her feel good about changing someone’s life. Her only complaint is that health insurance companies consider her work cosmetic. They will not cover the work she does for patients as it is not considered a necessary medical procedure.
“The C-word, cosmetic, we don’t like it. We don’t use that. An ear is not cosmetic, and a nose is not cosmetic,” says Vest.
However, the lack of insurance coverage has not deterred Jerry and many others who use prosthetics.
“They go to her because they wanna be whole again,” said Jerry.