What have we learnt from the recipients of the first face transplantation?
- By: Jonathan Dunne, Mark Liddington
Could this be a reality in the near future: “Doctor, I don’t like the way I look in the mirror. Can you prescribe me a new face?” Facial transplantation has emerged as one of the most exciting and controversial developments for a generation.
Initially performed for life threatening pathology, transplantation is being increasingly attempted for conditions that limit quality of life, such as aphonia (loss of voice) and hand amputation.12 The benefits of improved function and cosmesis must be balanced against the risks. The Royal College of Surgeons of England outlined their concerns in 2003,3 giving immunosuppressive risks, ethical problems, and psychological outcomes as its principal concerns. Since, further research and debate have attempted to consider these factors, and a revised report was published in 2006.4 Central to this are criteria that the college thinks should be met,5 and it concluded that facial transplantation for now may take place in