Is a Face Transplant Right For You?

Face Transplant

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if a Face transplant is right for you. These factors include recovery, complications, costs, and the procedure itself. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect during your surgery. You can also ask your surgeon about any questions you may have. Then, make an informed decision. After all, a face transplant is a major surgery! But what can you expect afterward?


A recent study compared sensory recovery after a face transplant with that of patients who underwent conventional surgery, a procedure that is designed to repair damaged nerves. The results were promising, with one patient experiencing a complete sensory recovery within two weeks. However, another patient did not experience this level of recovery, which was the result of severe patient injuries. Regardless of the cause, there are many possible reasons for the poor recovery after face transplantation.

Rejection: The most common risk after any transplantation is rejection. This occurs because the body’s immune system fights the new organ, which is why the procedure is sometimes referred to as a rejection. This reaction can be manifested as a rash anywhere on the face, and it is usually painless. While recovery time for the face transplant procedure is generally lengthy, it should not hinder patient function. Patients can resume normal activities two to four weeks after the surgery, and their results may improve over time.

Hardison had a face transplant in January 2018. The surgery was performed after he was diagnosed with a severe face injury in June 2016. Then, a church member approached Dr. Jose Rodriguez, who performed a face transplant in 2012 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. After reviewing Hardison’s case, the surgeon found a potential donor in December. Hardison’s family agreed, and in January 2018, the procedure was performed with permission from the donor family.


Before undergoing face transplant surgery, you should be aware of possible risks and complications. During the initial recovery phase, you would be observed in an intensive care unit. You will also likely stay in a hospital for another few days. Once you are discharged, you will most likely be in a rehabilitation center. You should continue to take immunosuppressive drugs. While the risks and benefits of face transplant surgery may be numerous, you should weigh these against the possible side effects of this procedure.

The short-term results of face transplantation are encouraging. The composite tissue flap survived well, with the patient experiencing only three episodes of acute rejection, controlled with tacrolimus and methylprednisolone pulse therapy. The patient did have hyperglycemia on day three after the procedure, which was resolved with medication. The short-term success rates are promising and could be a viable option for long-term facial restoration.

The procedure is complex, requiring the expertise of more than 100 medical professionals. It uses facial tissue from a deceased donor. Face transplant can restore facial functions, appearance, and sensation. This type of surgery requires a multidisciplinary team of surgeons to ensure a successful outcome. The surgical team will use 3D imaging to guide the procedure. Complications are rare, but they should be addressed immediately. If you are considering having face transplant surgery, be sure to discuss the possible risks and side effects with your surgeon.


The cost of a face transplant is high. In 2016, a woman named Cameron Underwood had a groundbreaking procedure to restore her appearance. The operation cost over $1 million. After the procedure, the patient would need to take postoperative drugs, therapy and be monitored for life. A similar surgery would cost around half of that amount. This cost does not include the cost of insurance. However, the relief from the psychological toll that face defects cause may be worth it.

One study compared the costs of conventional face reconstruction with those of face transplants. The cost of a face transplant was more than $1 million. However, the two procedures are comparable when adjusted for severity of the condition. A case report published in the American Journal of Transplantation described the first face transplant performed in the U.S., performed on a 46-year-old female shotgun blast victim. The patient had unsuccessfully undergone a series of conventional reconstructive surgeries over five years.

While this study compared costs for face transplants, it did not consider the emotional and psychological costs of the procedure. A full face transplant, which took 15 hours, returned his eyes, mouth and nose. Another study, the Partial Face Transplant, took 14 hours. Hunter is now able to feel his whole face and speak more clearly. A second case study, done on Charla Nash, had her nose, eyelids, lips, and hands.


A face transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces a portion of the face with a healthier one. The transplant surgeon usually begins by identifying a candidate for the transplant. Face donors are brain dead and typically donate organs concurrently. While this prevents wasting the potential life-saving potential of the donor, it can also help surgeons choose an acceptable structural replacement candidate. Patients who donate face tissue may need to undergo additional physical health and blood tests.

In the first human partial face allograft performed on November 27, 2005, Dubernard and colleagues described the results up to 18 months. Their immunosuppression protocol included prednisone, tacrolimus, and thymoglobulins. They also used donor hematopoietic stem cells, instilled on postoperative days 4 and 11. The patients were also subjected to monthly tests of sensory and motor function and were given psychological support before the procedure. After transplantation, patients had normal sensitivity to touch, heat, and cold.

The length of recovery after face transplant surgery depends on the complexity of the surgery. The recovery period may last a week to two months. During this time, the patient may require tube feeding, pain medication, and a ventilator. After the surgery, a physical therapist and psychologist will work to help patients adapt to their new appearance. Physical therapy will also involve intentional repeated actions such as chewing, swallowing, and walking.

International comparisons

One of the primary concerns about face transplant surgery is the safety of this procedure. The authors of this report highlight the risks and complications associated with face transplants and discuss societal and ethical issues surrounding the procedure. The authors also note that the risks involved in face transplantation are similar to those associated with organ transplantation, including lifelong immunosuppressive medications, infection, and rejection. As such, the procedure is a non-life-saving reconstructive procedure with an associated high mortality rate.

In an international study, Siemionow et al. (2017) reviewed the outcomes of 37 face transplant patients worldwide. Of these, five patients died from complications, including non-compliance with immunosuppressive drugs and the development of cancer. However, face transplantation has evolved into a clinical reality with a good functional outcome. Although some controversial areas remain, such as the effect of lifelong immunosuppression on otherwise healthy patients and the selection of FT candidates, the overall safety of the procedure is acceptable. Despite this, the authors emphasize that financial support and social reintegration remain important concerns for the new generation of face transplant patients.

In this study, a medical student performed the entire surgery, including the graft procedure. The surgeon subsequently used a caudal auricular artery to provide blood to the auricular region. While the difficulty of the surgery increased with increasing animal weight, it could be performed by a medical student with training in microsurgical procedures. The authors concluded that their study was a useful experimental model of face transplantation. This method can be replicated in any clinic with adequate resources.

Before and after

The first day after face transplant surgery is a critical one, with the patient being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for observation. Following surgery, the patient is on pain medication, and a physical therapist will work with them to improve facial mobility. A psychologist will discuss the patient’s psycho-social concerns, and the doctor will prepare the patient for life after surgery. While the procedure is not without risk, previous patients have experienced a wide range of post-operative results.

The number of known face transplant recipients is small enough that a comprehensive survey of their experiences would be impossible. However, the quality of the information available varies considerably within the cohort. This article relies primarily on published scientific papers and media coverage of the procedure. However, it also draws on anonymous patient reports and online news accounts. Oral and written testimonies also supplement published and documentary sources, and are used only when the latter does not provide sufficient information. In the future, these oral and written testimonies will be the basis of research.

A history of face transplant surgery is essential in evaluating the long-term outcomes of a surgery. While most research approaches focus on clinical outcomes, interdisciplinary studies are also needed to better understand the social factors that influence the outcome. Geographical factors such as geopolitics may limit the amount of information available. Face transplant research in China has been relatively undocumented, and the results of these surgeries are often difficult to compare. Clinical research is largely funded by competitive grant-making bodies, which may limit the dissemination of data beyond clinical publications. Because face transplant surgery is so controversial, it may be more difficult to compare two surgeons with the same results.