Full Face Transplant – A successful procedure

Full Face Transplant – A successful procedure

The everyday advancements in medical science enable health professionals to performs procedures one could not think of a decade ago. Recently, a team comprised of over a hundred surgeons has successfully performed a first face transplant at New York University Langone in New York.

The team was guided by Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez — the Helen L. Kimmel professor of reconstructive plastic surgery and chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone.

The procedure was done on a 26-year-old man called Cameron Underwood who damaged much of his face. Due to the accidental self-inflicted injury, it was nearly impossible to keep the man alive.

Cameron Underwood not only had severely damaged nose, jaw, and teeth but also palate and maxillary after the gunshot on his face. The team performed surgery on his on January 5, 2018, and successfully completed it within 25 hours.

There were also a number of follow-up operations in order to improve the appearance of the new face and ensure proper functioning. Since then, Cameron has healed successfully. In addition, the surgeons have also revealed the techniques used in their long procedure in a report.

You can read the report and the new achievements in detail here.

What Methods and Techniques Did the Surgeons Use?

To restore proper functioning as well as the aesthetic appearance of the face, many of the newly developed technologies were used in the surgery. Some of the techniques used by the surgeons were:

  • Intraoperative CT scan
  • 3-D computer surgical planning
  • Intraoperative navigation
  • 3-D printing cutting guides tailored to the patient

The procedure was also possible due to the facial skin of the donor. In fact, the surgeons used all of the middle as well as the lower part of the donor’s skull and the skin.

The team had to entirely reconstruct the upper the lower jaw, floor, and roof of the mouth, teeth, and gums, nasal passage, and the nose as well as the cheeks and the lower eyelids of the person.

Dr. Roderiguez – the leader of the team – also reportedly took a 3-D printed mask of the donor’s facial features for better future aesthetic surgeries. It was also labeled as an innovative way to keep the donor’s identity.

Full Face Transplant - A successful procedure
Image By Siemens Healthineers

What Are the Future Prospects of Facial Transplants?

According to Dr. Roderiguez, the advancements in medical science have helped surgeons and health professionals in tackling even the most difficult cases. He said:

” Technical advances have increased our ability to tackle the most complex cases more precisely with maximal aesthetic and functional results.”

The team’s performance and words, as well as the report, ensure that the procedure was one of the biggest milestones of the century. In addition, the follow-up surgeries have also enabled the researchers to use many of the cutting-edge technologies.

You can see the official detailed video of the procedure here. 

How Was This Procedure Different?

Not only did this face transplant use many different types of technologies, but was also shorter in time.

The newly performed surgery was 11 hours shorter than the first one – which was 36 hours long. Lesser time and more precision have indeed been two of the most notable achievements of the team.

In addition, the time for after-care and to tackle post-surgery complications was also much shorter in comparison. For example, the patient in the first transplant spent 62 days in the hospital and 51 days in the intensive care unit.

In the case of Cameron Underwood, 37 days were spent in the hospital and 23 in the intensive care unit while the rehabilitation days were also cut down to half, going from a 13 to 7.

The surgery has been successful and Cameron Underwood has responded well to the main as well as the follow-up procedures. The surgeons included in the team have agreed that this might pave the way for many new related procedures in the future.




Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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