Plastic Surgeon Helps Perform First Full Face Transplant in U.S.

A team of more than 30 doctors and others led by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac performed the first full face transplant in the U.S. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston last month. The man was a 25-year-old construction worker from Texas who was disfigured in a power line accident.

The man received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from an unidentified donor. The operation was paid for by the U.S. military, which wants to use knowledge gained from the procedure to help soldiers with severe facial wounds.

According to Dr. Pomahac, the man will not resemble “either what he used to be or the donor,” but something in between. “The tissues are really molded on a new person.”

The operation, which took 15 hours, was not able to restore the man’s sight, and some nerves were so badly damaged from his injury that he will probably have only partial sensation on his left cheek and left forehead, the surgeon said.

About a dozen face transplants have been done worldwide, in the U.S., France, Spain and China. We reported on the first full face transplant that was performed in Barcelona last year. This was the third in the U.S.; the first two performed in this country were partial transplants.

Full Face Transplant Performed by Surgeons in Barcelona

Doctors in Barcelona say that on March 20, they performed a very extensive face transplant operation on a man who had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The 24-hour surgery replaced the cheekbones, facial muscles, lips, jaw and other facial structures.

The surgery is said to be even more extensive than the face transplant operation performed at the Cleveland Clinic in 2008. “This is the first full face transplant performed worldwide, as the 10 operations performed previously had been only partial,” said a statement released by Vall d’Hebron University Hospital.

Medical Team Performs 80 Percent Face Transplant

Medical Team Face transplant SeattleA talented group of surgeons, doctors and various medical professionals at Cleveland Clinic have completed the first-ever “80 percent facial transplant” on a female patient that was suffering from the residual effects of serious trauma.

No personal information about the patient will be released, but Wall Street Journal reports that the procedure was one of the “most complex face transplants in the world.” Many functional and structural components of the were restored. Surgeons precisely integrated facial structures like the
lower eyelids and nose, while also restoring different complex tissues like skin, nerves and arteries.

Team leader Maria Siemionow has spent a great part of her career researching and developing such procedures. She was able to lead a group of professionals from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, anesthesia, opthamology, dentistry and others. A cooperative approach of this magnitude is the only way to succeed in such a complex surgical procedure.

Dr. Siemionow has a profound connection between her work and her motivation to help injured patients.
She states,”patients with facial disfigurement have very difficult challenges in society. We hope that one day we may be able to help the tens of thousands of patients who are quietly suffering.”

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