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

dly improve within a year. Relearning how to smile and drink fluids, though, takes as long as two years. Powerful drugs are used to accelerate nerve repair and growth.

Surgical revisions to properly align teeth and jaw bones are common among the transplant recipients, in addition to cosmetic procedures to smoothen facial contours and remove excess skin. Complications have been few, the report states.

In the article, Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues also note the significant financial costs and the serious ethical debate around them. The procedures cost roughly $300,000 each, not including fees associated with a lifetime of immunosuppressive therapy or need for additional surgery. These costs, they conclude, are only sustainable in the long term with committed public funding.

Dr. Rodriguez says his team at NYU Langone plans further research on developing better tools for screening patients best suited to the lifelong therapy and determining the relative value of full or partial face transplants. Additional efforts to forge a standardized surgical protocol will focus on complex instructions about how best to position and fit the new face and underlying bone, as well as match and attach nerves and muscle. The NYU Langone team also plans studies on the long-term health effects of immunosuppressive therapies and whether dose reductions are possible to lessen drug toxicity without compromising risk of organ rejection. The team also plans to explore the feasibility of performing face transplants on severely disfigured children.

In placing the first decade of facial transplantation in historical context, Dr. Rodriguez compares it to the beginnings of liver transplantation in the 1960s, when few procedures were performed and few patients lived longer than a year. Today, he says, liver transplantation is performed at more than 100 medical centers in the U.S. alone, and the vast majority of patients, including children, survive beyond a y
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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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