Face transplant surgery, the transfer of face tissue from a deceased human donor to a patient with a severe facial deformity, is an innovative reconstructive procedure that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of patients with severe facial injuries.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a world leader in promoting and performing this life-giving procedure.
We describe face transplant surgery as a life-giving procedure because it has the potential to dramatically improve, i.e., restore, both a patient’s mental and physical health. However, as with any other type of organ transplantation, this improvement will require the patient to make a lifetime commitment to taking medications that suppress the body’s immune system.
Conventional facial reconstruction methods, which are always considered first, do not tend to provide optimal results for patients with extensive facial deformities. Face transplant surgery, however, has the potential to deliver these desired functional and aesthetic benefits. Functionally, face transplant surgery can immediately restore a patient’s ability to breathe through the nose and speak intelligibly. With time, the ability to smile and show other emotions will also return. And the ability to restore a near-normal facial appearance can lead to tremendous psychological benefits, gradually rebuilding their confidence, elevating their mood and encouraging them to re-immerse in society.