Face transplant

Face transplant

A face transplant is a still-experimental procedure to replace all or part of a person's face.


People with faces disfigured by burns, trauma, disease or birth defects might benefit from the procedure. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2516181.stm Face transplants 'on the horizon'] ] The alternative to a face transplant is to move the patient's own skin from their back, buttocks or thighs to their face in a series of as many as 50 operations to regain even limited function and a face that is often likened to a mask or a living quilt.

Dr. L. Scott Levin, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Duke University Medical Center, has described the procedure as "the single most important area of reconstructive research."


elf as donor ("face replant")

The world's first full-face replant operation was on nine year-old Sandeep Kaur, whose face was ripped off when her hair was caught in a thresher. Sandeep's mother witnessed the accident. Sandeep arrived at the hospital unconscious with her face in two pieces in a plastic bag.

An article in the "The Guardian" recounts: "In 1994, a nine-year-old child in northern India lost her face and scalp in a threshing machine accident. Her parents raced to the hospital with her face in a plastic bag and a surgeon managed to reconnect the arteries and replant the skin."cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,11381,1225537,00.html |title=Scientists prepare to turn fiction into fact with first full-face transplant | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] The operation was successful, although the child was left with some muscle damage as well as scarring around the perimeter where the facial skin was sutured back on. Sandeep's doctor was Abraham Thomas, one of India's top microsurgeons. In 2004, Sandeep was training to be a nurse.cite web |url=http://health.discovery.com/centers/plasticsurgery/facetransplant/slideshow/slide.html |title=Face Transplant : Picture Slide Show : Discovery Health |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

In 1997, a similar operation was performed in the Australian state of Victoria, when a woman's face and scalp, torn off in a similar accident, was packed in ice and successfully reattached.cite web |url=http://www.petting-zoo.net/~deadbeef/archive/3021.html |title=Excerpted: WhiteBoard News for Monday, September 22, 1997 |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

Mouth and nose from another

The world's first partial face transplant on a living human was carried out on November 27, 2005cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6058696.stm |title=BBC NEWS | Health | 'My face transplant saved me' |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4484728.stm BBC News - Woman has first face transplant] ] by Professor Bernard Devauchelle a maxillofacial surgeon in Amiens, France. Isabelle Dinoirecite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6058696.stm |title=BBC NEWS | Health | 'My face transplant saved me' |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] underwent surgery to replace her original face that had been ravaged by her dog. A triangle of face tissue from a brain-dead human's nose and mouth was grafted onto the patient. On December 13, 2007, the first detailed report of the progress of this transplant after 18 months was released in the New England Journal of Medicine and documents that the patient is happy with the results but also that the journey has been very difficult, especially with respect to her immune system's response. [ [http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/24/2451 Outcomes 18 Months after the First Human Partial Face Transplantation] , New England Journal of Medicine, December 13, 2007] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/12/AR2007121202012.html?nav=rss_print/asection Face-Transplant Patient 'Satisfied': Some Who Criticized Procedure Are Impressed With Results] , By Rick Weiss, Washington Post, Thursday, December 13, 2007; Page A22]

In April, 2006, the Xijing military hospital in Xian, China carried out a similar operation, transplanting the cheek, upper lip, and nose of Li Guoxing, who was mauled by a bear while protecting his sheep.cite web |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-04/15/content_4426709.htm |title=Xinhua - English |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4910372.stm |title=BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | 'First face transplant' for China |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

Full face from another

In 2004, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. A group led by Dr. Maria Siemionow, located at the Cleveland Clinic, is searching for its first patient.cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4259538.stm |title=BBC NEWS | Health | US plans first face transplant |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London's Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals.cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6083392.stm |title=BBC NEWS | Health | UK gets face transplant go-ahead |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant. [cite web |url=http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4511813&page=1 |title=World's First Full Face Transplant Hailed |date=2008-03-25 |accessdate=2008-03-25 |last=Watt |first=Nick |year=2008 |publisher=abcnews.go.com] [cite web |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/23/wface123.xml |title=Man has first full-face transplant |date=2008-03-25 |accessdate=2008-03-25 |last=Franklin |first=Katie |year=2008 |publisher=telegraph.co.uk]

urgery and post-operation treatment

The procedure consists of a series of operations requiring rotating teams of specialists. With issues of tissue type, age, sex, and skin color taken into consideration, the patient's face is removed and replaced (including the underlying fat, nerves and blood vessels, but no musculature). The surgery may last anywhere from 8 to 15 hours, followed by a 10–14 day hospital stay.

After the procedure a lifelong regimen of immunosuppressive drugs is necessary to suppress the patient's own immune systems and prevent rejection. Long-term immunosuppression increases the risk of developing life-threatening infections, kidney damage, and cancer. The surgery may result in complications such as infections that would turn the new face black and require a second transplant or reconstruction with skin grafts. Psychological effects of the procedure may include remorse, disappointment, or grief or guilt toward the donor.

The transplant does not give the patient's face the appearance of the deceased donor's face because the underlying musculature and bones are different. Facial movements are due to the brain so the personality as expressed by the face remains that of the patient. Only the skin of the face is transferred from the donor, not the three dimensional shape nor the personality it expresses.cite web |url=http://www.thefacetrust.org/identity.asp |title=The Face Trust | Identity |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=]

Popular culture

1960: The procedure was very grotesquely, yet somewhat accurately, highlighted in Georges Franju's cult horror masterpiece called "Les Yeux sans visage" which translates to "Eyes Without a Face".

1964: Kōbō Abe, Japanese author and playwright, wrote "The Face of Another" (1964) about a plastics scientist who loses his face in an accident and proceeds to construct a new face for himself. With a new face, the protagonist sees the world in a new way and even goes so far as to have a clandestine "affair" with his estranged wife. This novel was made into a film of the same name by Hiroshi Teshigahara in 1966.

1990: In the movie "Darkman", the central character Peyton Westlake grafts himself a synthetic face after his skin was burned in a lab accident. He uses this new material to disguise himself and hunt down the criminals responsible for his mutilation.

1996: Facial transplant surgery was featured in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

1997: The plot of the movie "Face/Off" was based on a face transplant operation that involved changing the underlying structure and actual face shape. In the film, the transplant is shown to be reversible, with the patient being able to replace his original face if desired.

2003: The villain in the movie "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" underwent a face transplant.

2005: Facial transplant surgery was featured in an episode of "Nip/Tuck".

2007: In the nonfiction book Heroes With a Thousand Faces,cite web |url=http://heroeswiththousandfaces.blogspot.com/ |title=Heroes with a Thousand Faces |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] an entire chapter is devoted to facial transplant, including the pros and cons of the procedure. The chapter also includes interviews with Dr. Maria Siemionow of Cleveland Clinic and Christine Piff, founder of Let's Face It,cite web |url=http://www.lets-face-it.org.uk |title=Let's Face It |accessdate=2007-11-25 |format= |work=] an organization based in the UK that supports people with facial differences.


External links

* [http://www.plasticsurgeryresearch.louisville.edu/index.htm University of Louisville Plastic Surgery Research]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4484766.stm BBC News - Q&A: First face transplant]
* [http://www.savingfaces.co.uk/ Saving Faces: The Facial Surgery Research Foundation]
* [http://sympaticomsn.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060206/face_transplant_060206# CTV News - Face transplant woman goes public for first time]
* [http://www.facialtransplantation.org.uk/ UK Face Transplant Information Website]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/05/26/face.transplant/ Face transplants inch toward reality]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/26/health/26face.html?ei=5065&en=1264686781f5d159&ex=1122955200&adxnnl=1&partner=MYWAY&adxnnlx=1122344374-bfwt3fh0rrQEcrkO3TiVyw&pagewanted=print New York Times]

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