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Facial transplantation: Almost a decade out, surgeons prepare for burgeoning demand
Date:4/29/2014

In The Lancet article, Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues point out that although all recipients to date have experienced some complications from infection, and mild to moderate signs of rejection, the few deaths among patients were due to infection and cancer not directly related to their transplants. Indeed, most patients, he says, especially those in the United States, are "thriving"speaking, chewing, and leading social lives from which most had completely withdrawn because of their disfigurement.

"By far the overriding factor in the success of face transplantation has been in selecting patients most likely to benefit from and succeed through what can best be described as the most complex of medical-surgical procedures," says Dr. Rodriguez. "This is a life-changing treatment that can take years to prepare for and one that hopefully endures for the rest of the patient's life."

Dr. Rodriguez notes that only patients with the most severe facial disfigurementnot reparable by even the latest surgical techniquesare considered for the procedure. Patient histories range from victims of bear bites to multiple gunshot accidents and severe, electrical and house fire burn injuries. The extent of injuries may encompass any combination of the forehead, eyelids, nose, cheeks, lips, jaws, and chin.

"People who volunteer to undergo this procedure do so for very serious health and psychological reasons," says Dr. Rodriguez. "It goes far deeper than looks. People willing to undergo facial transplantation are highly motivated to do so. Without facial transplantation as an option, many of these people would be at serious risk for severe depression, even potential suicide," he says.

For those who do undergo facial transplantation, Dr. Rodriguez says success depends heavily on "total compliance" with their medication regiment and intense follow-up care. They must take immunosuppressive drugs as prescribed to ward off organ and tissue rejecti
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Contact: David March
david.march@nyumc.org
212-404-3528
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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