CleftClosure – The all-in-one-concept

An optimal start to life:

During surgergy according to the all-in-one concept, the cleft, which is caused by a defect in prenatal development, is closed shortly after birth. In this way, the patients, who are usually only 3 months old, can learn to suck, swallow and speak normally.

Reconstructive surgery in the field of maxillofacial surgery deals, among other things, with the closure of cleft lips and palate, which are also commonly called harelips. An error in development in the womb leads to the fact that the affected children are already born with this defect. The early closure of bilateral cleft lip and palate contributes significantly to the better development of the child. The cleft palate in particular hinders the infant in eating. Later on, the formation of the cleft interferes with the learning of sound shaping and speaking. Swallowing is also a major problem for cleft patients. The improved appearance also plays an important role. PD Dr. Dr. Katja Schwenzer-Zimmerer closes the cleft formation in a single early operation and her approach enables a normal developmental start for the affected child.

The animation prepared for this purpose summarizes the special features of this procedure in a few minutes and at the same time illustrates the advantages of this method compared to several years of surgery cycles using conventional approaches. The animation can also integrate and show the pre- and post-operative phase. The 3D model provides the viewer with a realistic orientation in the surgical procedure and thus contributes to a better understanding. In preparation for the creative work, computer tomographic scans of the slit shape and a wide range of photographic material were available, supplemented by sketches made in the operating theatre. The target group of the visualization are young doctors who have a degree in medicine and dentistry and are now aiming for the field of maxillofacial surgery. Therefore a very profound anatomical knowledge can be assumed.

The didactic focus lies in the presentation of the surgical sequence of actions. Consequently, the illustration of incision and suture technique is of great importance. Thus, the sequence of the performed operation and the application of learned methods are conveyed. In order to appeal to the widest possible specialist audience, the off-text of the animation is recorded in English.


Mentoring Design: Jeanne Peter, Simone Monhart Wüthrich.

Cooperation partner: PD Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Katja Schwenzer-Zimmerer, Interdisziplinary LJP-Center at the University of Basel.

Design process & Development

Bernd Spiessl Symposium

CleftClosure – The All-In-One-Concept
A 3D-animated design solution as part of a bachelor thesis in the field of Scientific Illustration

The early-closed cleft lip and palate enables children to learn to swallow and make sounds normally. In cooperation with PD Dr. Dr. Katja Schwenzer-Zimmerer, a pioneer in the field of cleft surgery, the idea was born to illustrate her approach in a 3D animation. As part of my practical bachelor thesis in the specialization Scientific Visualization at the ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts, Zurich, Switzerland) the goal of this work was to show the special features of the All-In-One concept. Based on a theoretical work on the illustrative history of maxillofacial surgery, I got an overview of the scope of existing medical illustrations. I came to the conclusion that the best way to explain surgical procedures visually is to use modern technologies. 3D-designed animations depict the traditional illustration category in phases in a moving image sequence. One animation highlights the special features of the All-In-One concept and shows a complete gap closure. The animated video summarizes the preparation, the closure and the result of the operation in a few minutes.

The 3D-designed solution gives the viewer optimal orientation in the operating situation. This orientation can be directly transferred to a real patient case. The main creative goal was to transfer the fascination of traditional medical presentation into the digital implementation of the 3D animation. The majority of the target group in this field is attracted by the traditional way of presenting scientific illustrations. With the help of colour and light I was able to take these preferences into account in my creative implementation and at the same time make a useful didactic statement.

The target group are young doctors in surgical training who have already completed their studies of human medicine and dentistry and who want to specialize in the field of maxillofacial surgery to close cleft lip and palate. The transfer of knowledge in the field of surgery is therefore based on a rich anatomical knowledge. Therefore, the animation shows only a basic anatomical orientation and focuses on the moving, surgical actions.

For the creation of the model I started from photos and sketches and combined them in the 3D program Cinema4D to a moving 3D illustration. My technical college provided me with two creative mentors, Simone Monhart Wüthrich and Jeanne Peter. Mrs. PD Dr. med. Dr. dent. Katja Schwenzer-Zimmerer has always supported me in my medical concerns.

...zum Bernd-Spiessl-Symposium


On the occasion of the eighth international Bernd Spiessl Symposium in 2013, I had the opportunity to present my work in Basel. My listeners were oral and maxillofacial surgeons from all over the world, who came to this meeting to discuss innovations and technologies in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

...zum Bernd-Spiessl-Symposium