The Real Face/Off: Surgeons Give a Man a New Face

Wednesday, 08 April 2015 - 1:56PM
Science of Sci-Fi
Medical Tech
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 - 1:56PM
The Real Face/Off: Surgeons Give a Man a New Face
Surgeons have just replaced nearly two-thirds of a man's face in one of the most complex facial transplants yet. After an abnormal growth of blood vessels caused a debilitating obstruction that impaired his speech and vision, doctors removed the growth and replaced the tissue of almost all of the man's lower face, neck, mouth, tongue and pharynx.

The Real Face/Off: Surgeons Give a Man a New Face

[Credit: Paramount]



This isn't the first facial transplant, but it's still fairly groundbreaking, as the technology that makes a facial transplant possible is still incredibly new. The first partial face transplant occurred in 2005, while the first Nicholas Cage/John Travolta-style full facial transplant occurred in 2010.

The below scans show the most recent transplant, which was performed once the doctors realized that potential bleeding from the vessels could threaten the patient's life. The procedure took 27 hours and was performed by no less than 45 medical professionals.

The Real Face/Off: Surgeons Give a Man a New Face

[Credit: Vall d'Hebron University Hospital]



Iain Hutchison, founder and director of the facial surgery research foundation, explained that the presence of blood vessels in the growth made this surgery especially tricky: Saving Faces, "These vessels infiltrate normal tissue, so it's hard to remove them without harming healthy tissue," he told New Scientist. "Completely replacing the malformed tissue with tissue from another person, gets around this complication."
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