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Plastic surgeons countdown first full facial transplantation

Even after news of the first partial facial transplantation performed in France spread around the world, plastic surgeons have continued to research how to make the first full facial transplantation a reality. In the first peer-reviewed, scientific studies of their kind, U.S. plastic surgeons demonstrated how to successfully complete a full facial tissue transplantation from one human body to another, reports the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"For the first time, we have scientific data that takes us beyond traditional reconstructive techniques and partial facial transplantation," said ASPS President Bruce Cunningham, MD. "What we thought of as a possibility reconstructing the entire face of someone with a severe facial disfigurement, in one surgery, from one complete facial skin flap taken from a donor is no longer just theory, but will become an actuality."

"Through these particular studies we have determined that full facial tissue transplantation is a successful approach in helping patients horribly disfigured by burns, accidents and other trauma," said study lead author Maria Siemionow, MD, director of plastic surgery research at the Cleveland Clinic. "The transplantation of a facial tissue flap from one cadaver to another has allowed us to do the following: estimate the time it takes to perform this particular transplantation, perfect our technique and visually confirm that a facial tissue flap is a match when covering severe burns and other trauma."

Although traditional methods for facial reconstruction, which include skin grafts and flaps, are reliable and effective techniques for reconstructing the face, they may not be ideal, according to the studies. It is nearly impossible to match the skin quality, texture and color of the face with any other tissue available on the body. In addition, it takes multiple grafts and surger
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Contact: LaSandra Cooper
lpc@plasticsurgery.org
847-228-9900
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
1-Mar-2006


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