A diverse group of doctors and surgeons from the Cleveland Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute have completed the first ever near-total facial transplant, restoring about 80 percent of a patient’s face.
While details and personal information about the patient have been withheld for privacy reasons, the press release available on the Cleveland Clinic’s website states that the patient had suffered serious facial trauma. Many functional components of the patient’s face were restored.
Surgeons precisely integrated facial structures like the lower eyelids and nose, while also replacing different complex tissues like skin, nerves and arteries.
Dr. Maria Siemionow, director of Plastic surgery research and team leader for the operation, has spent a significant part of her career researching and developing such a procedure. She was able to lead a group of professionals from a many disciplines, including bioethics, surgery, anesthesia, opthamology, dentistry and others. A cooperative approach of this magnitude is the only way to succeed in such a complex surgical procedure.
“No other aspect of our anatomy is capable of even a fraction of the complexity of motion and emotion allowed by the muscles and tissues of the face” says Siemionow.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, she describes her motivation for such difficult work; “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.”