"There is no doubt that facial transplantation can improve the quality of life for patients, however, facial transplantation will not replace traditional techniques," said Rod Rohrich, MD, editor of PRS. "This is an exciting time in plastic surgery, but it is important to remember that, at least in the near future, facial transplantation will be a last resort procedure performed on carefully selected patients on a case-by-case basis."
In the studies, doctors used cadavers to perform mock facial transplantations in order to outline the necessary steps to transplant a human face. Through these trials, they were able to visually show the full extent of the procedure's outcome.
During the procedure it took surgeons approximately five hours to perform the mock facial transplantation, this did not include vessel and nerve repair. In living recipients, the authors estimate the total length of surgery will be approximately 11-15 hours.
"Plastic surgeons have historically been at the forefront of transplantation medicine," said Dr. Cunningham. "The first successful hand transplantation was performed by a plastic surgeon in 1998, as was the first kidney transplant in 1954. The idea of tissue transplantation has opened a new era in this field of medicine."