First Full Face Transplant in the US: Years in the Making

The first successful full face transplant in the United States was an incredibly important step for reconstructive surgery in this country. Performed on Dallas Wiens, a young construction worker critically burned in a power line accident, underwent this procedure to restore his nose, skin, lips, facial muscles and nerves from an unidentified donor at a Boston hospital. Since 2005, there have been 6 partial face transplants and 3 full facial transplants around the world, with Mr. Wiens being the most recent.

What has received little attention during this event is the careful preparation that was required in order to make this a reality. The techniques involved are actually not new. Microvascular and nerve surgery procedures are routinely used by plastic surgeons nearly everyday. The fact that the grafted tissue was provided by an unrelated deceased donor (not the patient’s own tissues) thus requiring lifelong anti-rejection drugs also was not new, as it is done in organ transplant every day. The trouble encountered when this procedure was first contemplated was mostly ethical. Is it acceptable to perform a face transplant? The face, it was argued, was not essential for life in the same sense as a heart, liver or kidney. Wouldn’t these patients be risking their lives for something that came down to simple human vanity?

These questions were not difficult to answer by any plastic surgeon that has treated these poor souls who suffered a catastrophic loss of the facial tissues. Although these tissues together form our external appearance and provide our unique social identities, they also perform vital functions such as protection of our eyesight, oral competence, and airway protection. It is difficult to understand the impact on someone’s life when all of these functions are lost. Despite our best reconstructive efforts, these massive defects are not satisfactorily repaired since the specialized tissues needed do not exist on other parts of the body. The only options for these people involve looking to human donors for these special tissues.

It is not hard to imagine the reluctance of the general public to a procedure of this type. There was real concern that the pool of organ donors may shrink, as someone may be afraid that they would be signing up for something more personal than donating just an organ after death. This could impact our already short supply of needed organ donations. Certainly an individual may take pause at the prospect of someone else living with their face. Would the recipient look like the donor? Images of Hollywood movies such as “Face/off” come to mind. As our appearance is due to many more factors than just the soft tissues of our faces, at this point it seems likely that there is little to no chance of the recipient looking like the donor.

It was very generous of Mr. Wiens to share his experience with the world. We were all able to see his result and hear the story in his own words. Although the face transplant procedure is still in its early stages and still in many ways experimental, the experiences of individual patients such as Mr. Wiens are essential in evaluating its impact on the treatment of the catastrophic loss of the face and its functions.

More information:

MSNBC: “Texas man gets first full face transplant in US
BBC News: First Full Face Transplant in Spain

Dr Franckle

Meet Dr. William Franckle Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

We know that you have many options when choosing a plastic surgeon. Dr. Franckle and his staff are dedicated to providing you with a caring and professional surgical experience. Time and time again our patients credit Dr. Franckle’s expertise and the kindness of our staff as the reason for choosing our practice. Dr. Franckle is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify surgeons in the practice of plastic surgery. Attention to detail, meticulous skill, and an artistic eye make Dr. Franckle an expert in such procedures as rhinoplasty (nose job), breast augmentation (breast implants), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), facelift, and non-surgical treatments (Botox and injectable fillers).

Dr. William Franckle Testimonials

With the launch of our plastic surgery services comes some friendly new team members! Meet Devin, our lead cosmetic concierge. She’s with you from start to finish, making sure you have a 10/10 experience with us. Click our link in bio to book your *complimentary* consultation #VivaEve ...

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With the launch of our plastic surgery services comes some friendly new team members! Meet Devin, our lead cosmetic concierge. She's with you from start to finish, making sure you have a 10/10 experience with us. Click our link in bio to book your *complimentary* consultation #VivaEve ...

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Have questions about plastic surgery? We're answering. ⁠

Tune into our plastic surgery Q&A on 9/15 at 5 pm! Set a calendar reminder right here from this post, we'll see you then! #VivaEve

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A better body after a baby is possible: and we're excited to help you get it. At #VivaEve, we believe women’s health is all-encompassing, and unique to each person through all stages of womanhood. That's why we are introducing plastic surgery services. Getting back to your body shouldn’t be an uphill battle. We're offering a wide array of cutting-edge cosmetic procedures to meet your needs, led by our renowned board-certified surgeons. Make an appointment today! ...

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"If you think you have to go to a big city like NY or Miami for a top plastic surgeon, think again. Dr Franckle is an amazing surgeon and will go to great lengths to make sure you are happy with your results! I am 57 years old and had a lower facelift and fat transfer in my cheeks and couldn't be happier! Thank you so much Dr. Franckle and your wonderful staff!" - Face lift and fat transfer patient

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Breast Reduction Before and After⁠

Height: 5’0″ Weight: 126 lbs⁠
Age: 28 years old⁠
Pre Procedure Bra Size: 34DDD⁠
Post Procedure Bra Size: 34B⁠
Procedure: Bilateral reduction mammoplasty. 223 grams was removed from the left breast and 239 grams was removed from the right breast.⁠

This patient visited our office with a grade 3 ptosis, her nipple was falling well below the natural fold of the breast. She was also experiencing back, neck and shoulder pain due to the size of her breasts.⁠

#voorhees #voorheesnj #cherryhill #cherryhillnj #nj #newjersey #southjersey #njplasticsurgeon #franckleplasticsurgery #drfranckle #happypatients #plasticsurgery #boardcertified #njplasticsurgery #faceinjections #nonsurgical #noninvasive #buttlift #breastaugmentation #breastreduction #selfcare #breastimplants #liposuction #necklift #facelift #rhinoplasty ⁠#buttenhancement #womensplasticsurgery #tummytuck #invertednipplerepair

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William Franckle, MD., FACS

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