America's First Full Face Transplant

MakenzieR on 22 Mar 2011 at 12:00am

We wrote last week about some of the interesting ways donor cadavers might be contributing to plastic surgery. While those were a bit bizarre, today there is some happier donor news.

A 25 year-old man from Texas became the nation’s first full face transplant recipient. He had been disfigured by a power line accident.

According to the Associated Press:

The electrical accident in November 2008 left Mr. [Dallas] Wiens, blind and without lips, a nose or eyebrows. In Boston, doctors transplanted an entire new face, including a nose, lips, skin and muscles and nerves that animate the skin and give sensation… Mr. Wiens will not resemble "either what he used to be or the donor," but something in between, said Dr. Pomahac. "The tissues are really molded on a new person."

The 15-hour operation, led by plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, required “more than 30 doctors, nurses and other staff at Brigham and Women's Hospital.”

There’s no doubt Mr. Wiens is in for a long recovery period. The elective procedures discussed on RealSelf usually take only a few hours to complete, so anything that takes over half a day sounds like unfathomable pain.

In their lifetime, most people won’t go under the knife to perfect their “imperfections.” But it’s reassuring to know this technology exists in case the worst should happen.

For more information about Dallas Wiens and his amazing story, check out this ABC News video. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Click here for more information about facial reconstructive surgery.