Friday, 20 January 2017

Science Celebrates Success of Incredible Face Transplant Surgery

The boundaries of plastic surgery are always being pushed and remarkable achievements continue to be made. One of the most exciting is the successful face transplant carried out recently in the United Sates.

Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center

Burns victim Patrick Hardison received an entire new face, donated by a 26-year-old bike mechanic who’d been killed in a cycling accident. 

It was the most extensive face transplant ever attempted and the surgery took 26 hours.

The surgery was carried out in 2015 and 18 months on Patrick continues to do well, even though doctors believed he only had a 50% chance of surviving the procedure.

Although a number of face transplants have been carried out since Frenchwoman Isabelle Dinoire received the world’s first in 2005, no one had successfully transplanted as much face and scalp tissue before.

Patrick was 27-years-old when he suffered a massive burn injury to his face, which destroyed his ears, lips, eyelids, hair and most of his nose. 

He had to wait 14 years for the face transplant surgery, during which time he had become very depressed, lost his business and his wife.

He had already undergone a staggering 71 procedures to improve the look and function of his face but the aesthetic result was far removed from his original appearance. Consequently, he never left the house without a baseball cap and sunglasses. Patrick had also been warned that he would soon go blind due to having no eyelids.

The groundbreaking face transplant required surgeons to attach a new scalp, ears, nose, and eyelids as well as facial bones and muscles. The surgery involved a team of 100 doctors and nurses, led by Dr. Eduardo Rodreiguez at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

Watch the surgery:


Dr. Rodreiguez said the success of the surgery was remarkable, with Patrick so far being able to avoid any rejection of the new face by his body, although he remains on powerful immunosuppression drugs.

“Patrick’s case is pivotal for the face transplant program at NYU Langone,” says Dr. Rodreiguez. “The ability to avoid any rejection episode within the first 12 months I think is really remarkable. The fact that he’s also the recipient of the most extensive soft tissue face transplant performed in the world, it’s something that now we can predictably do and can be done very safely.”

The surgery has transformed Patrick’s life and enabled him to do normal activities, such as going swimming with his children, for the first time since his injury.

See Patrick a year after surgery:

First US Penis Transplant


Another incredible transplant surgery carried out in the States last year was a penis transplant given to a 64-year-old man who had his amputated after developing penile cancer.

The organ was donated by a younger, deceased man and was painstakingly attached to Thomas Manning during a 15-hour operation. The surgery was a success and means the patient can now urinate while standing and have sex.

It was the first penis transplant to take place in the US, following a penis transplant carried out in South Africa in 2014. The recipient was a 21-year-old man who had lost his penis following a botched circumcision when he was 18.

It only took three months for the man to return to full sexual function and in 2015 he announced that he was to become a father.

The doctors behind the US penis transplant now plan to help young military veterans with severe pelvic injuries. More than 1,300 men aged under-35 lost all or part of their penises fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan during 2001-2013.

Suicide rates are exceptionally high in soldiers with severe damage to the genitals so a penis transplant can be lifesaving.

Reconstructive Surgery at Ocean Clinic Marbella


Alongside its cosmetic procedures, Ocean Clinic is proud to also offer reconstructive surgery. This includes scar revision, breast reconstruction following mastectomy and maxillofacial surgery for congenital defects and injury to the facial bone complex.


Ocean Clinic’s Head Surgeon Dr. Kaye is passionate about helping people suffering with disfigurements and has led two charitable reconstructive surgery missions to Peru and Kenya. He and his team operated on a total of 100 people with congenital malformations, tumours, burns, scars and other deformities. Read more about this work here.

For more information about reconstructive surgery at Ocean Clinic contact (+34) 951 775 518.

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