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Face Transplant Patients: Where Are They Now?

Fri, 05/03/2013 - 9:41am
Elizabeth Landau

Since 2008, the United States has seen several landmark surgeries in face transplantation, giving people with severely deformed faces new lives through partially or totally different faces from donors.

Receiving a new face is anything but easy. The surgery requires long hours with many medical specialists collaborating to make it happen. The patient then has to adjust to the new face, biologically and psychologically.

There is a complex rehabilitation process where the patient learns how to eat, speak and make facial expressions again, said Dr. Maria Siemionow, director of plastic surgery research at the Cleveland Clinic.

"The surgical procedure itself of transplant is relatively standard," Siemionow said. "The major problem is the selection of the candidate -- who is and who is not the face transplant candidate."

For instance, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic would not consider someone who is totally blind because one of the requirements is to be able to exercise one's face in front of a mirror, "to make the face adjusted to the brain," she said about this still emerging field of surgery.

Here are the major publicly reported cases of facial transplants in the U.S.

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