Plastic surgery can be incredibly challenging, often seeming more like an art than a science. I've had four reconstructive surgeries - one which involved cartilage realignment - to correct the aftermath of surgery to remove skin cancer from my nose. - and I'm not done yet. So I can't imagine the difficulties involved in replacing missing cartilage by sculpting other bones to replicate it, but apparently that is exactly what is required to recreate children's ears. Obviously, if it has to be done, you want it to be done right the first time.
Until recently, inexperienced surgeons would develop their skill by carving a “bar of soap, carrot or apple,” according to this UW release — beta methods that were not incredibly accurate."
Now, researchers at the University of Washington are taking advantage of 3D printing to make silicone-based models produced from CT scans for surgical practice. Results suggest the approach is superior to traditional methods used to train medical students.
Since doctors already have access to the CT scans, maybe they should just print the cartilage directly. That would be my preference. In fact, I'm thinking of either getting a 3D printed nose ring to cover my scar and, or an insert to improve my breathing.